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:
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.)
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:
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:
Note: we do have a refrigerator light – I just turned it off for the purpose of this photograph – it washed everything out.
Leftovers/Triage box (It’s a USE IT FIRST area!) Ours has a tiny label that says “Eat Me First!”
Yogurt, extra cheese, miscellaneous dairy
Lunchmeat, cheese, sandwich fixin’ stuff
Area for thawing meat (thus a lipped pan – I need a square one I suppose)
Condiments we rarely use at back
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:
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.