You can always tell how busy/lazy I’ve been if you look in my fridge. I had company over a few weeks ago and when I opened the fridge while we were all hanging out in the kitchen, a few things fell out while I was in mid conversation. Woops! Sign I need to get a grip and handle my fridge business? YES.
On Sunday Joy & I unplugged from the internet/computer/phone. It was tough and what really helped through the unplugging process was cleaning my fridge out. I had no idea how emotional I would get during this project. I spent half the time sorting and cleaning and the other half evaluating my habits & behavior. Why do I fall behind on cleaning out the fridge when food is so important to me? Why don’t I look at what I have in my fridge before I add more items in there? I had a bunch of deep thoughts and we’ll get to that soon. But first!
It’s kinda like a big game of JENGA. I haven’t had a good system in place for awhile. There are a general AREAS where I keep food, but the past few months I’ve been using the JAM IT WHERE IT FITS system. It’s totally not sustainable. Nope.
First item of business. Take everything out! I started one row at a time, cuz you know…things still need to be kept cold. Everything that was on top got pulled out and sorted.
Kinda like this. Wait. Exactly like this.
If it had mold or expired obviously it was GONE. If it was almost finished, I evaluated if it was worth wasting space in my fridge.
I emptied stuff out and recycled. My recycling bin filled up FAST.
And while I was sorting, I cleaned out all of the shelves with hot soapy water.
I dried each shelf and put them back. Before I put ANYTHING back in the clean fridge, I made sure each item was clean and clear of any gunk. My jam jars were a disaster and my hot sauce containers were pretty cruddy.
I also cleaned the inside of the fridge with warm soapy water and took out all the bins and washed those too.
It’s amazing what cruds up your bins!
So let’s talk about bins for a second…this one was a nightmare. This is a very large pullout drawer we have. I keep Cooper’s stuff in it but because I didn’t have an organized shelving system in place, things that didn’t fit in the upper half of the fridge ended up in this drawer.
Here’s the before:
This is what it looks like now. Now I know EXACTLY where to find what I’m looking for. It’s easier for me to look at this drawer when I do my grocery shopping for his foods because I know what’s missing.
This is the deli drawer before.
This is it afterward. I can see everything I have and there’s a system! Meats on the left, cheese on the right and anything that’s in a tub gets stacked in the bottom right hand corner.
My unruly produce drawer got a makeover too. Things that need to be used right away go on top.
Pro tip: It’s much easier organizing a drawer when it’s not in the fridge.
Another Pro tip: Exploit containers.
I had some rogue bags that took up too much wasted space in my fridge.
I put them all in a container and now I know where to access them.
Also- I have a very deep fridge and it’s really hard to know what’s hiding out in there. It’s also a pain in the butt to have to move 5 things to get to the item I want. Now I have all of the stuff that gets in the way in one place. If I want maple syrup all I have to do is pull out the bin, grab it and put it back when I’m done. It’s such a simple trick and it makes a big impact.
Playing around with the shelves…before I put everything back…
I have designated shelves now AND I decided to take out a shelf and make more room for my leftover area.
I realized that it’s important for me to have room for bigger dishes & storage containers of leftovers. That’s usually what throws off my organization because I don’t want to take the time to pull everything out so my containers will fit in there.
Here’s another thing I thought of. I thought that I HAD to use all of the shelves. Like…maybe I wasn’t going to maximize the potential of this fridge. What I realized is that you have to find how YOU use your fridge and make it work for you. Having one less shelf and moving the rest of the shelves around to suit my needs has made a HUGE difference. Don’t assume that the factory placement is the right way to exploit your fridge’s space.
I also made a system for my shelves on the right.
Most used items are at eye level.
Here are the shelves to the left. We have to keep honey in my fridge. Ants…sigh…
Now that that’s done, let’s get to my emotional experience.
It was really hard to throw away all of the rotten food. I felt ashamed for letting my fridge get so messy that I couldn’t see what I had in there. I realize that I’ve been living like this for awhile because I don’t MEAL PLAN. I don’t shop smart and I don’t always use up what I have before I go out and buy more food.
So the day after I cleaned out my fridge I was anxious to go grocery shopping and I decided that I was going to use everything that was in my fridge to make a meal. Let me tell you that it felt great. So not only did I finish this project with a clean slate, I realized some of my bad habits that I want to correct and I challenged myself to start meal planning (I’ll talk about that more next week). Having a clean fridge feels like I’ve hit a really good RESET button in my life. I’m really ready to make some good changes.