We had broccoli?!

Jason loves broccoli.  Seriously.  He’ll just gnaw on it raw.  It’s pretty weird but because I love him and it’s a pretty healthy thing to keep around for snacking, I buy it regularly.  Here’s a pretty typical exchange:

Kate:  “Darn it, this broccoli went bad.” 

Jason:  “We had broccoli?!?!”

Now, we could blame Jason’s broccoli-less-ness upon his inability to open a produce drawer, inspect it, and select a snack from within…but we won’t get into that.  Really (truly) our refrigerator organization has been an issue for a while.  Things get pushed to the back and lost forever.  I had too many veggies to fit comfortably in the crisper drawer.  I buy cheese in bulk when it’s on sale and then there are pounds of cheese all over the fridge.  It was time for a good ol’ “January’s a New Year Fridge & Freezer Clean Out.” 

I know, I know, this is the perfect time to take each shelf out and wash it and wipe down the drawers and blah blah blah.  The only time I ever had a refrigerator that clean was after a breakup in college.  I cleaned every surface in my apartment twice AND laid out by the pool for hours on end (neither of those things have ever happened again – ever!)  Anyway, this isn’t going to win any Good Housekeeping awards, but here it is.  Freezer first:

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Something to keep in mind:  we have a chest freezer that we store most frozen meat, bread, and stocks/broths in.  That allows my freezer above the fridge to hold quick grab items.  I also left room in the freezer to slide a pan or two in there (for flash freezing bacon, veggies, or whatever.) 

The main goal in reorganizing the freezer was to make the single serving items that I freeze (mostly soups and sides) more accessible.  This helps us remember to actually eat them.  I used some old boxes temporarily (I’m on the hunt for some more freezer-appropriate containers but I thought we’d test the feasibility of this organizational system before I shell out any cold hard cash.)

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I read somewhere online that “professional kitchens” use masking tape labels on containers.  I have no idea if that’s true at all but I adopted the practice and love it.  They peel off really easily and are smooth to write on.  I keep a roll of masking tape and a marker or pen up on top of the fridge. 

Also I corralled my pre-cooked chicken and made it easy to grab and use.  Since I’m sharing all of my secrets today:  1 whole chicken in slow cooker = 2 lbs of cooked, shredded chicken you can throw into almost anything and also = homemade stock from the bones.  Best $6 you’ll spend.   

Here’s the door:

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I researched freezing bacon on the internet.  It’s my favorite new trick.  I also keep a frozen lump of ginger around.  That’s super handy now that we’re trying to work stir fry into our weekly routine.  Veggies fill the rest of the door.  Oh, and a giant bag of pecans. (We’ve had access to free pecans this year!  Jealous?) 

But now, on to the refrigerator.  My masterpiece:

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Note:  we do have a refrigerator light – I just turned it off for the purpose of this photograph – it washed everything out. 

Top shelf: 
Leftovers/Triage box (It’s a USE IT FIRST area!)  Ours has a tiny label that says “Eat Me First!”
Snacks
Yogurt, extra cheese, miscellaneous dairy

Middle shelves:
Eggs, random
Fruit 

Middle Drawer: 
Lunchmeat, cheese, sandwich fixin’ stuff

Bottom shelf:
Veggie container
Area for thawing meat (thus a lipped pan – I need a square one I suppose)
Water
Condiments we rarely use at back

Left Drawer:
Veggies

Right Drawer: 
Meat (either to be eaten this week OR to be divided and frozen)

And just because I don’t want it to feel left out, here’s the refrigerator door:

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Side note:  I pity those of you who don’t live in a state with access to Braum’s skim milk.  It’s the best milk in the whole, wide world.  And I grew up a hardcore 2% girl. 

You saw the amalgam of wire baskets, boxes, and containers I scrounged up for this project.  Almost any time I see containers like these thrift stores or garage sales I buy them.  They usually only cost a buck or two (cheaper than you’d find them new) and I almost always use them.  Occasionally I don’t use them and then I just donate them away or sell them again in a garage sale.  I have a little hoard of these things and it’s pretty handy when I get ready to tackle a project like this.  I do think I’m going to have to take some measurements and hit up the Container Store at some point to acquire some more moisture-friendly containers for the freezer but this was a free start. 

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5 thoughts on “We had broccoli?!

  1. I just reorganized my pantry last night (again… I give it a once over every few months) and I feel so liberated! My goal is to use up a significant portion of what I already have in the pantry (and the freezer, actually) before buying too many other things. It’s a bizarre conundrum of both wanting to have a well-stocked pantry but also use everything in my pantry.

    1. Split Personality Pantry Disorder! Hehe! Because our kitchen storage is pretty limited (with the exception of the extra freezer) things really have to earn a spot. But I also want to be able to make anything at the drop of a hat. It’s hard!! I have a “use it first” spot in my chest freezer as well – every once and a while I dig down to the bottom (like digging to the back of the pantry) and put that long lost item up front so I’ll use it.

  2. I see you have a gallon milk jug there. Keep in mind that these make great organizers if you clean them out and cut the tops off. And you know they fit in the doors already! Also highly recommend investing in a vacuum sealer of some sort if you buy in bulk to divide and freeze. They really do work and you can reuse the bags if you’ve a mind too. They just get a little smaller each time. ;-)

    1. Love the gallon container suggestion! My mom uses them in the garden sometimes but I had not considered using them indoors as a storage solution! I’ll have to research the vacuum sealer situation – I do spend money on freezer Ziplock bags (which I reuse when they are just holding bread or something dry like that…)

      1. If you’re really good about using frozen stuff in a timely manner you may not need one. However if you’re like us then stuff that would normally go bad in a ziploc freezer bag still has lots of shelf life. We waste far less this way.

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