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Avoiding Fridge Fiascos Organizing Hacks From a Pro

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2022
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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When it comes to staying on top of cleaning, the inside of the refrigerator often becomes forgotten territory. Finding “mystery foods,” such as leftovers placed in plasticware that has turned to mold, is commonplace. It’s also a major telltale sign that attention to the refrigerator is required. Two other major indicators may become unpleasantly evident when we open the refrigerator door. The first is when we can’t find what we’re looking for, and the second is when we catch whiffs of strange odors emanating from the fruit, vegetable, or meat drawers to indicate that foodstuffs have gone bad. Keeping the refrigerator clean is in our best interest to avoid eating foods that are no longer fresh and ones that can make us ill. To prevent fridge fiascos from happening, it’s time to get them and keep them in shape. Enjoy these quick tips from Deidra, a professional home organizer who helps people overcome clutter, manage what they own, and live their best lives.

Deidra, who has worked in the organizing industry for five years, explains, “Hacks are strategies that people use to be more efficient. When it comes to organizing the fridge, there are many hacks that can help. It’s important to focus on specific issues you’re experiencing and then find clever ways to overcome them.” Before getting to the hacks, Deidra suggests starting out by emptying and sorting through the contents of the fridge, followed by a thorough cleaning. To do this job, it’s best to have a trash bag handy for refrigerator items that need disposal. Discard foods that are no longer fresh and those which are expired. Use the garbage disposal and recycle whenever possible. Deidra recommends the use of a cooler to hold the food you plan to keep temporarily. She shares, “Cleaning the fridge doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply follow your refrigerator manufacturer’s recommendations. Be sure to thoroughly dry the shelves and drawers and add an open packet of baking soda to neutralize acids in food that cause bad smells.”

“After cleaning comes organizing,” Deidra explains, “Here’s where the hacks come in. These are the ones I like best.” Deidra suggests using press and seal plastic wrap over the refrigerator shelves, which tend to get messy. When things are spilled, simply peel it off and discard it. Adding a few objects like a Lazy Susan and some washable plastic baskets from the dollar store can help with organization. The Lazy Susan is ideal for condiments, and the baskets can help group loose objects together, such as apples, soda cans, or juice boxes for the kids. Always group like-items together for easy retrieval.

Deidra explains that some clients admit to consuming food that is old or past the expiration date. This practice may be unsafe. A significant number could not recall how old some leftovers were in the fridge, and some refrigerated leftovers became hard to identify. For this reason, professional organizers favor labeling items. This includes contents as well as an eat-by date. Deidra shares this story, “During one refrigerator overhaul, my client had a lot of condiments that were well past their expiration dates. The client explained that the dates were hard for her to find and read. Keeping blank labels and a permanent marker handy now enables my client to rewrite expiration dates in larger print. She began the practice of regularly relabeling all new products being introduced into her refrigerator.”

Food waste is a major problem in the United States. “Wasting food often stems from not being able to see everything in your refrigerator,” Deidra explains. “In my experience as a professional organizer, the adage “Out of sight, out of mind’ is true. A disorganized refrigerator equates to food that will be overlooked or forgotten and will probably expire before it can be safely eaten.” To troubleshoot this, Deidra suggests only buying what you’ll need and use and making everything visible by using clear bags and storage containers to hold foods. “As I explain to my clients, I like to store my prepped and ready-to-eat veggies and fruits in tall vertical containers so that I can see and grab whatever I’d like. Also, it helps to optimize refrigerator space.”

“Most modern-day refrigerators have separate drawers for fresh fruits and vegetables and a cool drawer for lunch meats and cheeses. Use them. By giving a category to each shelf and drawer, you can easily find what you’re looking for.” This busy professional organizer shares that people can also buy dividers for the drawers to further separate foods. Though this is an excellent hack, Deidra reveals that the best tip of all is to regularly upkeep the fridge. “It only takes a few extra minutes to put things away in their proper place.” She also adds these words of wisdom, “Never jam stuff in, because later you’ll regret it.”

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