Fridge experiments...

yeonaskyFebruary 26, 2006

How to stop having them. This isn't my last frontier of disorganization, though it's getting there. I'm just frustrated that my tinned fruit loving family opens another can before looking in the fridge. I then find a tin of peaches or pears hidden behind the thousands of condiments that we have, and seem to use. Yes I know, condiments aren't food, but they are necessary to my family? How does this idea sound. All fridge door condiments, etc. put into tall containers and stored in the back, in groups as needed, except for my most used things. The cans that usually disappear will then be put on the fridge door shelves. The shelves are deep enough to accomodate the big tins of fruit my family scarfs down, with the sinful whipped cream that I avoid like the plague, lol. My hips can't take it. Anyway, any ideas for further organizing my fridge and any critique on my idea would be welcome. What did you do to keep you fridge from becoming scary?


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I find my fridge works best when I group like things together. No one seems to be able to find anything that is not in front (if they have to move anything at all, they yell for me to find it). So I have some rectagular plastic baskets. When I group lunch meats in one, they get used up. If they are left in a drawer or on the shelf, they do not. Anything in a drawer is likely to be thrown out evenutally. I use baskets for water bottles in the summer (so they don't fall all over) I try to keep leftovers in gladware, stacked together so everyone can find it. And I try not to buy too much, so the fridge is not too full. I try to go through it every week on garbage day and clean it out, too. If they are hungry, they need to eat what we have up before I buy more. Unfortunately, they don't always find what they want before opening another - which would explain the 3 open jars of grape jelly in there right now that no one wants to eat.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 3:53PM
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Hi Yeona,

One thought might be to use lazy susans. I have one on the top shelf for condiments. It is plastic (Rubbermaid or Sterlite?), inexpensive, and I think I got it at Walmart. I also use some of these in cabinets. Very handy, rather than digging.

So -- my fridge has adjustable half-shelves. I keep like-items together, and, like rjvt, I try not to buy too much, so my fridge is never that crowded.

Top to bottom:

The top shelf is adjusted as one full shelf across, and placed close to the top of the fridge. On the left side is soda (in a can dispenser), an open bottle of wine on its side. The right side has the lazy susan/condiments. The drawer compartment is just below the right side. Mostly cheeses, sticks of margarine, sometimes coldcuts go in the drawer.

The next level is adjusted for milk, 2-liter bottles, juice on the left side. The right side, which is one notch higher, is a little snug due to drawer, but this is the "dairy" section: eggs, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese.

Then the bottom shelf (not adjustable, just above the crispers) usually has leftovers on one side, and whatever I'm thawing for dinner on the other. Sometimes the sliced bread is stored here too.

Two crispers: one actually has some fruits and veggies. The other has water bottles or juice pouches.

The fridge actually came with another half-shelf that I only utilize during the holidays or if we're having company and I need the extra space. So you might consider removing a shelf to make things more accessible.

The door itself has lots of compartments. Margarine tubs on the top part, chopped garlic here too. I try to keep the bins sorted: salad dressing, a variety of mustard. other seasonings, mayo.

See if you can rethink the existing space and make it more user-friendly.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 4:44PM
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My fridge is only a couple of months old and I really like the shelves on the door which can now hold two gallons of milk. Most of the other condiments are also stored in the door shelves.

I have some other shelves I have arranges so there is really only room for the eggs (I buy 2 pkg of 18 each) and another is only tall enough for yoguart containers.

When you are talking tinned fruit, do you mean it has already been opened? And then since it gets lost they open another? I move anything from a can which has been opened to a clear Glad container. No open cans allowed in the fridge. I also stick to just one size of storage container. What seems to work for us is a rectangle shape which is 4" x 2.5". They stack well and I can quickly see what is in them. Also, I keep a very limited amount of containers on hand. When my container drawer gets too empty I know for sure we haven't been eating up the leftovers and it's time to see what's lurking in the back of the fridge.

I've gotten much much better about checking out the fridge before doing much of a grocery run. Since I try and buy enought to make meals for at least a week, I need to see what's in there and what needs pulling out so I have room for fresh food.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 1:39AM
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Quiltglo, I used to keep milk on the door, but I noticed it was getting sour quickly. So I moved it to the middle of the fridge, as deep in as I can get it without blocking it. I think the door tends to get warmer than the rest of the fridge. This is from my experience, four people in my family, including my husband who "grazes" and will leave the door open while he looks eveything over, trying to figure out "what he wants". He'll also open the door, take out the cold cuts and mayo, leave the door open while he goes over to the counter and makes a sandwich, then replaces the meat and mayo, then he closes the door. I mean,why waste your own energy closing and re-opening the door when you can use the electric company's????

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 9:06AM
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Funny to see this post. SO spring break is approaching and I want to eat right. So I bought berries, washed them and was going to put them in these white plastic bowls I have.

BUT I said to myself, I won't eat the berries if I forget they are there, and then they'll go bad, and I'll be left with no choice but to eat BAD non-spring-break-friendly food LOL

So I put it in a clear glass bowl with saran wrap on top!

I see it right off, as soon as I open the door, and I'm motivated to eat my berries!!!!!

I think see-thru is the ONLY way to go to ensure food does not get left by the wayside to mutate into a new life form.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 9:19AM
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A couple of things have helped me with the 'lost and found' of foods:

1. I only use clear storage containers - whether it's Tupperware, glass, or Ziplocs. I found that if I couldn't readily see it, it was like it did not exist. This decision also helped me clean out the Tupperware storage.

2. We recently purchased a new refrigerator, and I have to give it credit. We had a side by side that was fairly deep, and leftovers would get pushed to the back, only to come out when I did a deep clean. The new refrigerator is refrig over freezer/counter depth and things just don't get lost.

3. I also try to keep some sort of organization within the refrig. I doubt that my husband realizes that the eggs always go in a particular location, or that leftovers go on the middle shelf. But he does know that there is only one specific place for him to reach in and find his morning yogurt. He's able to rely on its location and has even been able to let me know when we're running low.

Someone posted an idea for keeping the pantry organized - marking the tops of cans with an identifier that tell you that it was there as of a particular date - I'm using that same idea for condiments. I figure if a condiment has been in for a year and I haven't used it, it might be time to toss it and free up some valuable refrig real estate.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:53AM
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Yes -- switch anything from a tin/can into a see-through Ziploc storage container -- if possible add a quick label with a strip of adhesive tape and a marker.


Thats my current "fridge" mission: Clean out -- and start to date/label containers. My brain just goes fuzzy on whether the container's contents was added on Monday ------ or Wednesday! LOL!!!

Bit of a brag too ----- I actually cleared out my kitchen cupboards ----- dumped a whole lot of WAY out-of-date herbs and spices ------ found a great bottle at the back and made a marvellous baked salmon. Herbs combined with Three-Fruit Marmalade, a dash of Gulden's Zesty Honey Mustard and a drizzle of olive oil. Covered the baking with foil and baked it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or so ..... AND then cleaned the fridge and used up the veggies too!

Great lefovers too!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 12:36PM
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speaking of having assigned homes: I have fantasized about labeling the fridge shelves w/ the P-touch.

My husband informed me that if I did, he'd peel them off. It was too anal for him.

But we did have a big family conference about the eggs and the bread; My crummy fridge is short on space, vertically, and there's one shelf that has a 4" or so space; the eggs and bread (and extra butter) go there.

He's managed to keep that up pretty well!

Our big problem was the veggies--the fresh veggies from one meal would go in a container, and into the fridge. Then, he'd get new ones out each meal from the drawer. Our solution: All veggie, in or out of containers, prepped or not, go in the veggie drawers. So you open the drawer, and there's the Gladware container of carrots & pepper strips. It made a huge difference.

So if leftover fruit, specifically, is the big problem in your house, maybe you need a specific spot in the fridge it must go; and then they can find it quickly. They know the ketchup is in there and will dig for it, but those short, easily-lost things may need to be the ones in the easy-to-pull-out basket, instead of the condiments.

Bcs I think they are not going to put the ketchup back in the basket, but they *might* put the leftover fruit there.

A few family conferences would be a good idea.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 6:13PM
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Definatly get the food out of the can. Storing food in a tin can in a refrigerator is dangerous. There are various reasons from food poisoning to the metal leaching out of a can. None are good.

A place for everything is how I organize the refrigerator. I would also caution against using the door for milk because the gallon jugs are heavy. The plastic that appliances have these days just don't seem to hold up as well. The shelves in the doors tend to fall off and break if they get a heavy load.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 9:10PM
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I have been following Talley Sue's advice with containers of fruit. I used to keep them on the shelves and couldn't find them so I'd open up a new can or cut another melon, for instance. Now I keep these containers of fruit in the fruit drawer. It has really helped.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:51PM
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I hope those shelves for the milk hold up since it was one of the selling points for me for this fridge! I noticed a big difference between the shelving on the lower priced fridges and the one I ended up with.

I don't imagine it will go bad on us since my DH is anal of the two of us and I hollar at the kids not to just stand there and stare into the thing like food is going to jump out at them.

I definately find this freezer over the cooler easier to clean out than my old side by side. The freezer doesn't hold as much, but less gets lost since it's all at my eye level again.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:30AM
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I have to keep my milk in the fridge--bcs I live in the Land of Spoiled Milk.

Right now it's winter, so it's not so bad. But come May, we'll be lucky to get through a 1/2 gallon of milk without it going bad on us.

And come July, we'll be lucky if it's still fresh in the morning, after DH buys it on his 9:30pm milk run!

I had another thought on this--if tins of fruit truly are the biggest problem, be sure to make it easier to go to the fridge first--store the tins of fruit just one shelf higher, or something, so it's worth checking in the fridge first, before going to the pantry.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 11:19AM
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With boys, food doesn't stay in the refrigerator long enough to spoil.

Would it help if you re-packed canned fruit in individual serving sizes for the kids? Put the small "fruit cups" in a basket, then they can just grab one.

And I think if you have open condiments you don't use regularly, it's time to toss them. And keep them all together or nobody but you will ever find them... trust me on that. LOL

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 5:33AM
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Thanks for the great replies. Good detailed ideas here. Just what I need. You guys are the bomb. ThatÂs a good thing, I've been informed. Sorry I heard it on AI and couldnÂt resist besides this is a great group. :)

Maura, I love your detailed walk through of your fridge. I wish I had a flexi-fridge like you. My fridge has fixed full shelves, though it is side by side, and also has a deep 4 litre milk holding door.

Gloria I've tried to decant the stuff into a container, but my family, of all adults, don't do things like that. I have less control over the fridge than when my college age kids were young, and I was queen of the kitchen. I don't make breaky, or lunches anymore so what goes on when I'm not here goes on without my control. At this point I'm just trying for damage control, and the closest I've come is to supply plastic lids for the fruit, which the family do use and to now attempt to reorganize the interior of the fridge. I hate fridge tasting tinned fruit, but no one else even notices if it gets eaten quickly, like within the day. Not connoisseurs, my group. Except my DD, that is. She's suddenly decided that anything in the fridge for more than one day is no good. It makes it hard to serve her leftovers, even though those do get sealed in Rubbermaid.

I'll remind everyone of the dangers of tin, and switch things around so I can keep my eye on things better. Talley, my milk sours quickly these days, no matter what, as I am not here to nag at the lax breakfast eaters. I buy cereal occasionally now, but no one really eats it much anymore. The all eat on the run in the morning now. The lazy susans sound like a good idea for me. I wish I could just get a new fridge, tommeca, but it's not in the budget for a few more years. I never have enough food it seems, for my family, but finding it in the fridge seems to be too hard for them to do.

Thanks again for the feedback. Any more suggestions are welcome.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 4:37AM
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can you put a basket in one of the door compartments, for them to put the cans of fruit into?

(and maybe start buying milk in smaller containers, so they can't trash an entire gallon by leaving it out?)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 11:36AM
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due to leaching of metals such as lead(not as widely used today) also the lining in two piece tin cans has potentially adverse affects.PLEASE READ thank you and health to all

Here is a link that might be useful: possible food contamination

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:17PM
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Talley sue I never saw your reply, sorry. I have tried to retrain my family, but it hasn't worked. What has worked is putting the fruit out at dinner time, and hiding the extra unopened tins, lol. The milk situation is better as Family is back to eating oatmeal in the morning, with 1% milk and fresh fruit. Yummy.

Jim no worries, mate. At least not from here. We bought some small stackable glass containers for our tinned stuff, and love them. I do all the decanting, but at least it's done before any poisoning can happen.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 2:41AM
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I have recently become very lucky where my fridge is concerned: my 2 eldest sons who live with us (we're moving to another home, and they're buying this one - that's why they're still here) each have their own space in the fridge, freezer, and pantry shelves for their own food stuffs. I was relentless as they were growing up: look in the fridge before you open anything, and as a result I've overheard the eldest (23) yelling at his little brother (17) WTF - Frank, bend down and look around in there first! That's when I pat myself on the back, and hope I've saved any potential future mates from the H-ll of a stinky fridge :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:06AM
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