What does the inside of your fridge look like? We are the type of household that try to get the main part of our fridge as empty as possible every week. This system started shortly after we finished the kitchen renovation last year. We felt inspired to get our refrigerator super organized and I can’t tell you how much this has allowed us to save money by not having to throw out food that pasts its prime, inspires us to continue to eat fresh, and makes meal planning and snacking a breeze.
Our long-time partner, Blue Apron (you’ll almost always find them in our fridge), asked us to share how we optimize our fridge space and while it isn’t Cribs worthy, we’re happy to break it down and hope it helps you in your own grocery goals.
The organization of our fridge is a mix of research on the best places for basic items in the fridge (did you know the door is the warmest spot in the fridge?) and what we found functions for well for us. Here’s how it breaks down:
1. Our top shelf is left-overs. We usually have leftovers for lunches and/or dinner once a week. However, we’ve learned if we don’t group all of them in one spot, they become out-of-sight-out-of-mind-into-the-garbage-eventually. I like keeping them on the top shelf because they are right at eye-level practically screaming “eat me!” We also keep a box of baking soda right behind them to neutralize smells–which leftovers put off more than anything–a lot easier to do when they are all together. Using all the same brand of containers (we have two sets of this one) allows for optimal stacking in the fridge and the tupperware drawer and keeps everything looking consistent, too. Getting all matching tupperware will change your adult life.
2. Our fridge shelves are adjustable so we made one larger to accommodate drinks (except milk).
3. We picked up this white bin last summer at Ikea for the sole purpose of accommodating our Blue Apron produce and “knick knacks” (the smaller ingredients provided for the recipes). We are on the family plan (they also have a 2 person plan) which delivers all the farm-fresh ingredients we need, in exactly the right proportions. You can skip weeks or cancel anytime, but we’ve been receiving deliveries (on our own dime) about 2 or 3 times a month for almost two years now. When it’s not in Blue Apron use, we’ll stick other recipe-specific ingredients in there for the week that might get gobbled up otherwise, ie. an apple for chicken salad, cheese for lettuce wraps, etc.
4. Half of this shelf is dedicated to snacks. It’s right at Greta’s level and she knows that if it’s on that shelf, she doesn’t need to ask to eat it. We aim to keep it stocked with healthy options: yogurt, fresh cut fruit, veggies and hummus. Sometimes I’ll even shift an orange or string cheese up on that shelf since she has been so trained to only look to see what’s there to eat. Ha!
5. Eggs do best where the temperature is most consistent—on the middle shelf. It’s also best to store them in their original carton. We eat A LOT of eggs, so we’ve found it’s most economical for us to get 5 dozen at a time.
6. Deli Meats belong in the shallow meat drawer, which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge, or (if there’s no such drawer) on the bottom shelf.
7. Milk tends to land on the top shelf or in the door, but it should be on the bottom, all the way in back, where it’s coldest. Yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese fare best on the bottom shelf for the same reason.
8. Packaged raw meat should go on the bottom shelf where it’s super cold. We purchased this clear bin specifically for our raw meats to keep juices contained so they won’t contaminate the whole fridge. Our Blue Apron meats (this week it was chicken and cod) are also stored in here rather than the upper white bin.
9. Vegetables stay fresh longer with a bit of humidity. There’s generally a drawer labeled vegetables or high humidity–that’s the moistest spot in the fridge, perfect for veggies. On the contrary, Fruit belongs in the low humidity drawer (sometimes marked crisper). Both are best kept in the original packaging or in a plastic bag, loosely tied (citrus is fine with no bag). Quick Tip: Leave vegetables and fruits unwashed until you use them. Water can promote mold and cause bacteria to grow.
Our fridge just has one large drawer, but it is labeled to put vegetables to the left where the humidity is higher and fruit on the right side, where it’s crisper.
10. Condiments are generally high in vinegar and salt, which are natural preservatives. So ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressing are fine on the door–the warmest part of the fridge. The same is true for pickles, salsa, etc.. Butter doesn’t need to be super cold, so they (along with soft cheeses like Brie or goat cheese) can live in the dairy compartment on the door. These are also all things that don’t go through in one week, so it’s nice to have the to the side which allows us to still aim for the goal of cleaning out the main part of the fridge weekly.
Besides organizing everything in this way, we also meal plan. A lot of people look at sales ads when meal planning, which can save a lot of money, but we generally just shop for what’s in season and we base our meals off of our schedules and the weather. For instance, if it’s going to be nice out, Chris will almost always plan on breaking out the grill. If we are both have meetings one night, we’ll plan on having leftovers that evening. If we know that we have to get the built-ins finished downstairs on Tuesday night after the girls go to bed, I’ll plan on heading up dinner that night so I can have it ready right when Chris gets home. Which is where Blue Apron comes in.
While Chris can churn out amazing dishes from his brain, Blue Apron allows me to deliver the same caliber of chef-designed meals while walking me through it step by step–something I need! I’m not a great natural cook, but Blue Apron gives me confidence on those nights where it just makes sense for me to make dinner.
Instead of going to the only things I know how to make (mostly breakfast food, haha!) I feel like I’m learning new recipes and we’re trying new foods and everything can be made in under 40 minutes.
This particular night, we had panko-crusted chicken with pea tip salad & pink lemon. It was light, but filling and fresh. And our first time using pink lemons! We have been introduced to so much fresh, unique produce that you just can’t find in Idaho. That alone has us hooked.
Want to try it? Blue Apron is giving the first 25 CLJ readers two free meals! Just click here.
How does meal planning work in your house? Do you aim to clean out your fridge weekly? What’s one must-have in your fridge? As weird as it is, I love catching a glimpse inside other people’s fridges.
This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.