In about a week, your relatives will flock to the home this year’s designated Thanksgiving host. If that’s you, are you ready? Is your refrigerator ready?
By taking an hour or so to clean out your refrigerator today, you will not only make ample room for all of those Thanksgiving dinner ingredients, but you will also have room for all of the delicious leftovers your family will be looking forward to.
Everything out! Clear off space on your counter or table for your refrigerator contents. Use a cooler for more temperature sensitive items, especially if you think it will take more than 20 minutes.
Disinfect! Wipe down the inside of your fridge with warm water and dish soap. Start with the top and work your way down. Dry all bins and surfaces thoroughly.
See, touch, and smell! Sort through all of the food. Don’t judge solely on the expiration date. Does it pass the smell test? Was the lid or cap on tightly? If you are unsure if something is still fresh, check out www.eatbydate.com or www.foodsafety.gov for helpful food safety guidelines.
Organize! Start putting food and drinks back in. Create “food zones” by keeping like items together. Perfection or labeling is not necessary here. Your refrigerator is constantly shape-shifting to meet the needs of your family. Food-safe clear organizing bins can be very helpful. The folks over at InterDesignUSA.com have a variety of convenient, stackable options. Don’t forget to take a look at your refrigerator’s design. Are there adjustable shelves that could be more accommodating?
Food Storage Tips:
Dairy products belong in the coldest part of the fridge, usually on the center shelf, but really anywhere but the refrigerator door. The best way to keep your eggs fresh is to keep them in their carton.
Canned foods should always be transferred to an airtight container after opening. Refrigerating an open metal can will impact the flavor of the food.
Always store ready-to-eat foods on the top shelf.
Poultry should be well-covered and stored on the lowest possible shelf.
Do not overstuff your refrigerator. Keeping a stocked fridge can help conserve energy, but cold air needs room to circulate properly, and your food needs proper air circulation to stay fresh.
Be mindful! Take stock of what was only used once or what your family ended up not liking. By making this mental note, you will be more mindful the next time you are picking up groceries.
Stop the cycle! Refrigerator clutter leads to food contamination and food waste. Stay on top of your refrigerator inventory by setting a monthly reminder in your calendar to do a quick fridge clean-out.
I hope you have a happy and organized Thanksgiving!
Aimee Olson of Life Done Simply is a Productivity and Organizing Coach and is a member of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO).