At The Happy Gal, we are here to support you in achieving great health. Be sure to check out my cookbook – Healthy Eating The Happy Gal Way. And if you haven’t gotten them yet, click HERE to get my FREE Top Ten Tips for an Organized Life. These tips are simple, easy, and total game-changers. Be sure to check them out!
Now, on to the tips…(or watch them here on my Studio 5 segment!)
Oh, zones. Quite possibly my favorite organizing word. As I talked about in my Get Organized post, zones are the key to finding something when you need it. In creating zones, the trick is to store like things together. You are probably already using the concept of zones with your fruits and vegetables if you store them in the produce drawers. So follow this model with the rest of your fridge. For example, create a leftovers zone, and store all leftovers on the same shelf. Try a salad dressing zone for all of those salad dressing bottles, or capture all of those dairy products that float around in the fridge (such as string cheese, and cream cheese, and yogurt) and give them a permanent place.
Create Meal Zones
Explore the zone concept further by creating meal zones. For example, at lunchtime you might consistently pull out the lunch meat, cheese, mustard, and lettuce. At breakfast you might be reaching for egg whites, chopped vegetables, bacon bits, and yogurt. Make it easy by grouping these things together. It will make it easier to collect the ingredients you need when cooking, and clean up will be a snap! Just be sure to contain these zones (see next tip).
Without boundaries, these zones are just going to be rearranged clutter. That’s what containers are for! It’s amazing how long it took me to catch on to the concept of using containers in a refrigerator. You want things to stay put and look good? Find yourself some good containers, such as these Fridge Binz. They are a beautiful way to keep your zones in tact so you can find what you need when you need it. If you love what you see, you can order the Fridge Binz here.
What did people do before sandwich bags were invented? I’m serious. Someday I think I’ll write a post titled “The Many Virtues of the Sandwich Bag.” Today I have a sandwich bag tip that is a Happy Gal original: whenever possible, ditch the tupperware and use a sandwich bag. It might not be as pretty, but tell me this: when you’re cleaning out the fridge, what would you rather do? Rinse out and then wash those clear containers that have stacked prettily on your shelf? Or, with a flick of your wrist, toss a sandwich bag full of overripe tomatoes into the garbage can? I’ll take the latter, thank you very much. I’m no Diva when it comes to my fridge. It’s all about simplicity. This tip is especially helpful if you are keeping lots of freshly chopped ingredients on hand for salads, omelets, etc. Last words regarding sandwich bags: very important to contain them. Keep those baggies under control by placing them all in a Fridge Binz container.
Schedule a regular date with your refrigerator (mine is every Friday morning while doing breakfast dishes.) This is when you’ll spend five minutes throwing out the bad food and wiping shelves down with 409. If you dread cleaning out your fridge, it’s probably because you’re facing a monstrous problem that will take half of the morning to clean out. By treating your fridge-cleaning time like an appointment, you will be consistent in throwing out the bad food. So cleaning the fridge will be a cinch! I recommend building that refrigerator appointment into time you already spend in the kitchen, and schedule it so that your fridge is ready for groceries after going to the store.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I might advocate sandwich bags, but deep down I have a love affair with food storage containers. Sometimes you just need a good container with a lid…but when you use them, do yourself a favor by choosing a square shape. Much nicer to stack.
Adjust refrigerator shelves
Don’t know why this one took me so long to figure out. For 10 years I struggled with a refrigerator that had a shelf that was too narrow for storage, and a shelf that was so tall that it wasted a lot of space. Happy was the day I realized that I could adjust the shelving! Now I am able to utilize both shelves.
Be Protective of Your Refrigerator
I bet that right now, even while you’re reading this, your jam is in the refrigerator. Probably your ketchup, mustard, and vinegar, too. Some sources say that these things don’t need to be refrigerated. If you are short on space, store them in your pantry instead. (Tomatoes, potatoes, and onions definitely get the boot.) Don’t allow things in your fridge that can be stored somewhere else. (Soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, and BBQ sauce can also be stored in the pantry, but note that the shelf life is shortened for these products when they’re not refrigerated.)
I love this tip, probably because I love to get my family to do what I want without saying anything at all. You want your leftovers eaten? Don’t hide them on the bottom shelf in the back. Zone your refrigerator so that leftovers are kept at eye level in the front of the fridge. The power of suggestion….
So it’s no longer a mystery. A clean refrigerator is merely the result of a few conscious habits. Implement one or two of them into your routine, and you might notice that the fridge seems to stay organized by itself! And speaking of routines…I have a more great tips here.
I want to help you get organized! My Top Tips are the quickest and easiest way. Click HERE to get them for free.