I’ve only recently discovered #fridgegoals on Instagram and I must admit I felt a strong sense of shame. Our fridge is notoriously disorganised. It’s a blackhole of expired sauces and mouldy cheeses. However, my shame quickly became inspiration when I was browsing through Instagram at the spankingly clean, sensibly organised and insanely healthy looking fridges.
Our fridge is part of the family. It’s always been there for us. My kids run to it when they’re hungry (or bored). We look for it when we can’t sleep at night. It always has the right answers when I’m feeling down. So you can understand how worried we were when our last fridge began to break down and ultimately stopped working completely. It was only 2 years young. God bless its soul.
When we brought home our new fridge, we vowed to make things work this time. That we would try harder and not take things for granted. We learned how to see things from our fridge’s perspective. Things have been going really well since. Here are five things that I recently discovered about fridges that has taken me one step closer to achieving my #fridgegoals:
3/4 full is the “just right” amount to fill your fridge
Your fridge does not wish to be overburdened nor does it want to feel empty inside. If you overfill your fridge, it will reduce air circulation and may block the air vents. This will lower its ability to cool its contents and increase pressure on its cooling mechanisms. This was what happened to our last fridge. We overtaxed it and the condenser gave way.
On the flip side, your fridge shouldn’t be too bare as well. The reason behind this is simple. If the contents of the fridge is already cooled, it takes less energy to keep the fridge cold. If it’s empty, more warm air goes in every time you open it. Therefore, it would need to work harder to cool off again. Most experts agree the Goldilocks “just right” amount is ¾ full.
There are different temperature zones in your fridge
The temperature and humidity vary in different parts of your fridge. The door is generally the warmest part and is subject to the most temperature swings. This means that it’s not a great place for highly perishable products like milk and eggs. This may depend on your fridge model but generally the upper shelves have the most consistent temperature. This is probably the best place to put your leftovers and ready to eat food.
The lower shelves tend to be the coldest and hence the best for raw food, eggs and dairy. The crisper drawers have a different humidity level so putting your vegetables and fruits there will help it stay fresher and keep longer. Essentially, each section of your fridge is designed to keep different things in optimal cooling conditions.
Always store raw meat and seafood at the bottom shelf
This is a widely acknowledged food safety tip. Raw meat, poultry and seafood should always be kept at the lowest shelf in the fridge to prevent any juices from dripping on other things. Unfortunately, most crisper drawers are placed at the lowest part of the fridge. This means that inevitably, raw meat will always be placed above food you occasionally eat uncooked like fruits and salads. This is why it’s always better that your raw meat or seafood is stored in sealed containers and whenever possible on top of a tray in the fridge.
Another reason for not overfilling your fridge is because you need cold air to circulate well to prevent food from going bad. If you’re storing raw meat in a fridge that’s overfilled, there may be a chance that it may not cool down enough to prevent bacterial growth. Food borne bacteria grows between 4 to 60 °C (40 to 140 °F). Your overfilled fridge may seem cold but bacteria can still grow at 4-5 °C.
Some vegetables and fruits shouldn’t be stored together
Ethylene is a type of plant hormone, released as gas by fruits and vegetables, which speeds up ripening. Some fruits and vegetables produce more ethylene than others. While some are more sensitive to it. Apples, avocados, blueberries, grapes, kiwifruit, mangoes, mangosteen, potatoes and tomatoes are examples of food that produce high amounts of ethylene. While broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, leafy greens, lettuce, okra, onions and strawberries tend to be more sensitive to it.
You can prolong the life of your produce by simply separating the two groups of vegetables and fruits. Alternatively, if you want some of your fruits to ripen faster, you can try mixing them with the high ethylene producing ones.
There are a ton of online resources to help you get organised
There are so many schools of thought and strategies when it comes to fridge organization. There’s the “make healthy eating easy”, “label everything”, “eat me first box” and my personal favourite “keep like with like”. I particularly enjoyed this article on fridge organising.
I think it’s important to stay realistic when it comes to fridge organisation. You’re unlikely to make it Insta-worthy and that’s okay. Every step you take to make it more organised is a step toward building a healthier, happier and more satisfying relationship with your fridge. #fridgegoals
Below is a checklist to help you get started on re-organising your fridge to reduce energy costs, improve access, reduce food waste and increase food safety.