Remember the MTV show Cribs which took you for a nosy inside the fabulous homes of the rich and famous? While the swimming pools and marble bathtubs were all very well and good, my personal highlight was the #FoodPorn that was the fridge reveal. Even as a teenager I was a foodie at heart. And the rows upon rows of meticulously organized produce was a level of luxe that I naively thought to be within my regular person reach. Fast forward ten years and the explosion of random veggies, half empty sauce bottles and takeout Tupperware that fill my fridge tell a different story. Despite my best efforts, organization is clearly not my strong point.
Nevertheless, spurred on by the season of spring cleaning (and an impending visit from the ‘rents on the horizon), I decided that it was time to take action. And who better to turn to for help than those culinary geniuses who organize food for a living? Read on to discover how to properly organize your fridge according to professional chefs.
First things first, lets start with the basics of fridge organization.
As far as what goes where, raw meats should go on the bottom shelf to avoid cross-contamination of dripping juices. According to the Emmy-nominated Chef Nathan Lyon, meats should always be either double bagged or placed in a bowl for this very same reason. Food safety is paramount in the kitchen!
When it comes to fresh produce, Chef Nathan recommends storing these items in the crisper drawers. “These drawers are designed to control the humidity level – high humidity for vegetables and lower humidity for fruit – which is why you will have at least two drawers and usually a lever to control the level of humidity.”
After that, really anything goes. Though as Ashley Reaver of My Weekly Eats notes, you’ll want to make sure any eggs and dairy products are kept in the body of your fridge as this area is likely to remain colder than on the doors.
First In First Out
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“We’re all guilty of getting back from grocery shopping and throwing everything into the fridge, but take a moment to organize things so that the oldest food items are used first,” says Chef Nathan. For instance, place your new milk carton behind the older one so it gets used first. This tip is also great for organizing pantry items – especially if you tend to buy in bulk!
Decant and Save Space
When it comes to efficient fridge organization, space is of the essence.
For ultimate space optimization, make like Chef David Schaap, of New York-based Oaxaca Taqueria, and keep small Tupperware containers on hand to consolidate items that are taking up too much space. “Two tablespoons of ketchup sitting in a 12 ounce container is a gross waste of space.”
Put a Label On It
It seems that knowledge is key when it comes to food safety, making labeling a must for a properly organized fridge.
“We all have containers of questionable items hidden in the back of our refrigerators,” explains Chef Nathan. “Keep the mystery out of the fridge by labeling each homemade concoction to indicate what it is and the date when it was prepared.” It’s also helpful to pop a label on any used produce so you can easily see when it was opened.
Get to Know Your Fridge
Ultimately, the best way to keep your fridge properly organized is to get up close and personal with it.
Chef David clarifies by introducing us to some key questions: “Where does the cold air flow from? Do you have humidity controlled drawers? What are your cold and humidity settings at? How full is your fridge typically? – Don’t be afraid to constantly adjust the settings on your fridge to account for new grocery purchases. Most people adjust their settings once, and never touch them again – what a mistake!”
What are your top tips for keeping your fridge organized?
Calling all master chefs! Make sure to check out our round up of top kitchen accessories as recommended by professional chefs.