The holidays are here! And hopefully that means you are planning lots of great things to make and bake this season to serve at all your holiday gatherings. But before you head out to purchase all the necessary ingredients, take a few minutes to assess your kitchen and make sure it’s set-up to make your time there the most efficient. This time of year can mean extra and seasonal food items and ingredients coming in and you’ll want to make sure you have room to store them all.
And in keeping with my Kitchen Organization series (check out the links above to previous posts in the series), this week I’m focusing on organizing the refrigerator.
I’ve come a long way since the days of teetering on letting our fridge become a composter. But I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing how life just gets in the way and even after just a week, there seems to be a least one brewing science experiment that needs to be cleaned out!
During the holidays it seems our refrigerators are bursting at the seams with extra ingredients like butter or eggs for baking, egg nog for drinking and other seasonal items we serve at or bring to holiday parties. Here are a few tips for getting your fridge in order and ready for the holidays!
Check dates and throw out what’s past expiration. Do you know how old that jar of pickles is? How about the coffee creamer you bought when you planned to become your own barista (but never followed through)?
Now, I really hate wasting food so start paying attention to how long you’re holding on to things. Maybe you’re not using things up as fast as you thought. Here’s my tip: date the label on the item when you OPEN it (don’t just go by what the expiration date is on the label). It will help you figure out if the size container you are buying is too big or too small for your family. I personally would rather buy the size jar or container we will use in a reasonable time instead of buying a giant size on sale and then have to throw it out half-used.
Pull out the shelf (most of shelves come out of the refrigerators easily) and wash with warm soapy water. Dry and put it back (obvious I know but I assume nothing!)
Put your shelves back in and think about where everything will go back. As you can see from my picture, I took labeling to the next level. Yes, I even labeled the shelves and drawers in my refrigerator a few years ago. I got tired of hunting for things that got put back somewhere different every time and (more often) answering the same question over and over about “where is the ….?” It has worked! Everyone in my family now pretty much knows where things are so they can find what they want and be in and out in a jiffy. It helps when guests are visiting too and want to help out in the kitchen. The labels I use are Fruits, Vegetables, Condiments, Dairy (like yogurt, cheese, etc.). When my kids were babies, I had one shelf that was labeled Leftover Drinks because it seemed like I was always filling up sippy cups with milk and they didn’t get finished so I would save them until the next meal. Sure did help keep those sippy cups from getting extra nasty by getting pushed to the back of the fridge! The taller shelf on the right is for regularly purchased items like milk and other beverages. We use the bottom shelves primarily for leftovers or ingredients that will be used in the meals I plan to make each week.
Mark your calendar to make this a weekly task (if you don’t already). I like to do it the day before our garbage collection so food does not sit in the trash cans too long. Soon, you’ll find that you’re spending less time cleaning out the refrigerator which means less waste and more money in your pocket (because you know what you’re using and buying only what you need–hopefully!)
Ta-da! Now your refrigerator is ready to welcome all those delicious holiday goodies that are made, purchased and received. You’ll have a shiny, clean refrigerator with lots of space!
How do you get your kitchen ready for the holidays? I’d love to know–just leave your comment below!
P.S. Oh and one final P.S. you may be asking yourself how old my refrigerator is shown in the pictures. The answer is old (IMO!) Well, our refrigerator is still kicking after 17 years! It is a freezer-on-the-bottom style (that I love) that we got way before that style was “in”. But when it does finally go kaput, I’ll be ready. I’ve had my eye on one of those fancy stainless steel French door style refrigerators for awhile now. Yes, you know I’m a foodie when I walk into Best Buy and am lured by the appliance section rather than the cool electronics. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that day will come soon!