How to organise your fridge was likely not a topic covered in any school subject and so, much like making sense of your electric bill, tax returns and travel insurance, it’s something we work out for ourselves. Having said this, you’ve probably heard many differing opinions on what should go where and even what should and shouldn’t go in the fridge. Some things are simple – milk and cheese go in the fridge, no questions asked. But what about garlic? What about fruit? The choice to keep some items in the fridge can set off debates as divisive as Marmite. So, we’re going to avoid that. Instead, we’ll focus on how to clean and organise your fridge, including which food groups go where and how to keep air circulating.
The Right Way To Organise Your Fridge
There will be different ways to organise your fridge depending on a number of matters. Mostly, how you organise your fridge will be dependent on the general temperature of wherever in the world you are based and what you keep in your fridge. For instance, if you are living 2 inches away from the equator you should probably keep bananas in the fridge but if you, like us, are in Britain where we get roughly two weeks of sunshine a year (if we’re lucky) most fruit will be fine in a bowl on a worktop. Although specific arrangements may vary, there are some classic rules and methods to keeping your fridge hygienic. An organised fridge can also reduce food waste as it’s easier to see what you have and you’ll be preserving the right food in the right conditions.
Ordering your fridge from back to front is quite straightforward. Items with a longer shelf life go at the back and items that need to be eaten sooner go at the front. This is essential for reducing food waste which is not only important for our household finances but also for the planet.
What Is The Crisper Drawer For?
The crisper drawer, also known as the salad drawer, may be one large drawer or it may be two. If you have two drawers on the bottom of your fridge they may have different humidity controls which means it is possible to divide your food up to suit the conditions. Generally, a crisper draw is a place a higher humidity, making it the ideal place to keep food in danger of wilting. So fresh produce such as spinach, salads, berries and other fruits and veg that need to be kept crisp.
I hesitate before advising you to ensure you put heavier vegetables at the bottom of the drawer and place leafy items on the top because I wouldn’t want to patronise, but I have seen some people pack their shopping and so feel I must.
What Goes In The Fridge?
We’re not going to go too near this one – we’ll leave that to social media wars. Generally though, it’s wise to follow what the supermarket does. So, if it’s not refrigerated in the supermarket then you probably don’t need to waste fridge space on it either. Although, it is worth bearing in mind in the summer months that stores tend to have air conditioning so may maintain a cooler room temperature in the midday sun.
The Fridge Shelf Guide
First Shelf (above the crisper drawer)
The first shelf (above the crisper draw) is the ideal place to keep uncooked meat. Meat should all be kept in one place and away from any uncooked foods to avoid contamination. It is also best to keep uncooked meat in sealed containers so that it cannot drip juices onto any other produce.
Plant-based fridge owners may choose to use this section of the fridge for meat replacement items or for the overflow of fresh produce they’ll likely have. This is the coldest area of the fridge so the best place to keep anything that might go bad if not properly chilled.
Some healthier consumers use the first shelf on the fridge for the overflow of salad leaves, fruit and vegetables that don’t fit in the crisper drawer. However, most of us are storing all sorts here. What we should be keeping here is dairy because this is the most consistently cool part (the first shelf is usually the coldest) of the fridge and dairy can be very sensitive. The second shelf is usually a good place to keep anything in need of being eaten too, as it’s usually around eye level for those curiosity peeks into the fridge at mid-afternoon.
The top shelf of every fridge in every household tends to house all the things that the organiser of the fridge, the main fridge manager if you will, is not too bothered about reaching. Especially at the back, you can expect to find all those things less often used. Typically the apple sauce that comes out every other Sunday (mint sauce the same), the chilli sauce that seemed like a really necessary purchase at the food festival but hasn’t been used since, and the marmalade that no one likes but might one day be requested by a visitor.
Up high is also a wise place to keep those things with far-off sell-by dates. However, we should still be going through that shelf every so often and making sure we are still in need of everything there we have open as we can get stuck cramming things onto the first two shelves and not utilising the top fridge shelf properly.
Herbs and berries also do best on the top shelf as this keeps them away from moisture. Lunchboxes and leftovers are also ideal for the top shelf as they won’t be forgotten about and will be kept cool but dry.
What To Keep In The Fridge Door
Many of us are storing the wrong things in our fridge door! It seems television adverts and even fridge designers have all led us down the wrong path because the fridge door is not the place to store the things most in need of keeping cold. Of course, it’s easy to grab the milk, the cheese and the orange juice from the inside of the fridge door where it is so helpfully a taller compartment. Yet, the door is actually where we are likely to suffer inconsistent temperatures seeing as it’s a large space and the door is regularly opened, letting in warmer air. Therefore, this is seemingly not the place to keep dairy. Dairy, including milk and butter, should be kept on the middle shelf (see above). The fridge doors are the place to keep sauces, condiments, water, juice and other items you want to be kept cool but that aren’t too sensitive to subtle temperature changes.
How Often Should You Clean The Fridge?
We recommend giving your fridge a good clean every 3 months. Hot soapy water is best and generally, a fridge is a very easy place to clean because surfaces are smooth and drawers and shelves removable. Removable items can often even go in the dishwasher. Of course, everything will need to come out of the fridge so doing it before you do the weekly shop is wise. It’s an opportunity to check sell-by dates too.
You may find, particularly if you have kids, that your fridge needs cleaning more often. Especially if there are spillages or any unexplained smells. The fridge does tend to be one of those household appliances that will let you know when it needs some TLC as it will begin to produce hard-to-ignore whiffs and sticky surfaces. Keeping your fridge clean is a hygienic issue but it can also help its lifespan as a good clearout keeps the air circulating properly.