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Organizing the Fridge

Posted by bud_wi (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 13, 07 at 13:49

Here is something I tried that is working for me keeping my fridge organized.

I decided to 'flip' the storage in the fruit and veggie bins with the in door storage shelves.

The problem with storing fruits and veggies in the bins in the fridge was that they were just a big pile to have to paw through. Things got bruised doing this. The onions banged into the tomatoes. Things wound up on the bottom and forgotten and rotten. "Oooh yea, now I remember that pear I bought last June. I think thats a pear? Or a peach?" It was hard to tell which were the more recent purchses that needed to be used first. It was a chore to paw through it to see what needed to be purchased for shopping trips or to check to see what might need to be 'used up' before it went south.

I now put all the condiment jars in the former veggie bins. They all fit nice and tight and it seems like storing the jars this way they fit better and the bins hold more with everything nested. Then you pull out the drawer you can see all the caps with most of them having printed brand names on them and the rest are just recognized by color. (blue = mayo) Nothing is hidden behind another jar like happens with condiments stored on the main shelves or jammed into the door shelves requiring pawing through a jungle of jars and shoving everything to the side to see what lurks behind it. I've got more space on my main shelves now too.

All the fruits and veggies are now in the door shelves. Easy to spot. Nothing gets bruised. Older stuff goes on the top shelves and new duplicate purchses go on the lower shelves so freshness can be monitored and things rotated. This way you know which are the 'older' plums to be used first.

Seeing the fruit and veggies all displayed like that makes them more accessable and more likely to be grabbed when looking for a quick snack. It sort of prompts one towards healthy eating unlike the effort it takes to bend over and rummage through a dark bin with broccoli and garlic on top of the pile.

Has anyone tried this? I haven't found any drawback to this new system yet.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Organizing the Fridge

bud, that's just brilliant. My veggie bin has a top that is supposed to increase humidity, but personally, I think seeing what's there (and using it) is a vastly superior method. I may just have to give this a try and see how it works out!

One thing I do since my refrigerator is tall, is save the top shelf for things I need to cool. I can slide them onto a half sheet pan, and still be able to pull it off the shelf. Since the top shelf is usually only temporary storage, I know if there's something up there, I'm going to need to deal with it. (Same for the freezer. I freeze things sometimes before I package them for long term storage.)

I've been keeping bottles of things in one layer around the perimeter of the fridge, and storing larger items like leftovers in the middle at eye level. That way, they get eaten and not forgotten.

I'll let you know how your method is workin' out for me, once it's had a fair trial!


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Bud, that's a great idea. My vegetable drawer is such a dark pit of horror every time I clean out the fridge. I won't get into gory details, but suffice to say most things are unrecognizable.
I might try your method. It sounds revolutionary.


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Way to think outside the (ice) box, bud!!

What I really like is that I very rarely even use those jars and bottles eating up prime real estate. Hoisin sauce and jalapeno jelly need to be eye level?! Meanwhile I'm foraging in the awkward produce drawers every day!? No more!!

I hearby nominate this for tip of the month!


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Thanks guys. I thought maybe everyone was going to laugh at this.

It really works for me. I don't need mole, three kinds of mustard, soup base, sweet and sour sauce, assorted jams, horseradish, ect all at eye level prime real estate and I'm more likely to grab an apple to munch on, if I happen to see it looking right at me, rather than it snuggling with the celery at the bottom of a dark bin near the floor buried under parsnips.

The only drawback that I had thought of was the lack of a humidor like Luna mentioned. It does not seem to be a problem. Fruit does not need humidity. Most veggies do just fine. Some things like broccoli I keep in the clear plastic bags that the produce section at the grocery stores offer or I'll slip into a Zip-Lock bag if I got it at the farmers market. That little extra effort is nothing compared to how easy this system is in the long run. It make menu planning a breeze if you can see everything in the door shelves and use it before it wrinkles up.

I haven't found it difficult to grab a jar out of the drawer. Everything that is commonly used is recognizable, and it is still quicker to look for oddball stuff like Hoisin, in the bin, than it would to excavate it from wherever it got shoved in the fridge shelves.

If your household is large, and you warehouse shop for mayo in gallon jugs and buy apples by the ten pound bag this is not going to work of course, but for a small household - voila!

Celtic, "Thinking Outside the (Ice)Box" was what I was going to title this thread but I thought that it might be confusing as a thread title and no one would click it on so I changed it. We think alike I see.


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Just one thought -- the best way to store fresh tomatoes is outside the refrigerator (refrigeration can give them a mealy texture), so that can solve one space/access problem. :-)


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Bud, of course two cheeseheads would think alike!


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Steveo, I did not know that! Thanks for the tip. I just Googled it for more info. I had always thought ripe tomatoes were stored in the fridge. Mine are grown myself or bought at the farmers market. Never those awful things from the chain grocers. I only use tomatoes for salsa or marinara so I guess I didn't notice with all that garlic added. LOL. My mother stores potatoes in the fridge and I think that is wrong. They get a weird texture but she think I am imagining that and won't ever change. On holidays I always bring a potato dish that I made. :)


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Super idea. I too have countless kinds of mustard, jellies, flavored vinegars, etc. etc. that I don't use on a regular basis. Putting frequently used items higher up with better visibility just makes SENSE! Way-to-go bud_wi...


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RATS!!!

Most of my stuff in the door is too tall to fit in the bins. I can only fill 1/2 of one drawer with the shorter things - tobasco, jellies, etc. But the vinegars, maple syrup, many salad dressings - all too tall.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!


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Thanks Steve, I didn't want to rain on Bud's parade. Also Bud, don't store fruits and veggies together. Otherwise, great idea. BTW-Evert Fresh bags are the greatest for storing and preserving fruits and veggies for an extended length of time. I get mine at the natural food grocery store.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Bags


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Milk and other drinks on the middle shelf.

Fruits and vegetables in 2 bottom drawers.

A pull out drawer for meat and cold cuts.

Cheese and butter and eggs on the door.

Ketchup and other condinments also on the door.

Leftovers anywhere they fit.


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OK, this was fun. I've been restocking my freezer, because of a major repair I needed that caused me to lose the contents. Since I've been cleaning it up and putting food back into freezer, I decided after my most recent grocery run to reorganize the door shelves ''ala Bud'' and here's how it turned out. I actually had some Evert Fresh produce bags, so I'm trying this on for size to see how it fits. So far so good!

Celticmoon, a lot of my stuff is also too tall for the bins. I ended up putting sodas/drinks in there, along with the short jars of stuff like jam and pickles. I have some short refrigerator jars I could probably transfer some of this (taller) stuff to. I'm still working on it. I already love the instant visibility of the produce right on the door.

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Celtic, I was so hoping that someone else would jump on the bandwagon. I love this new system. I love opening the door and seeing a wall of FRESH produce arranged in the door shelves, easy to see and easy to grab. I like pulling out the drawer and seeing everything nested and easy to pull up sort of like those fancy built in spice drawers they put in new kitchens. Note; I do have a side by side unit. But I am sure a full door would work out just the same.

I have two bins in my fridge. One has all the little jars and will also even hold the 60oz sizes of mayo and salad dressing, a 3 pounder size of garlic and the bigger jars of peppers, artichoke hearts, and relish. My gigantic jug of ketchep lays on it's side in the other bin and right now I also have a square jug of BBQ laying on it's side next to it with extra room for other things if need be. They are both huge. I don't worry about those things leaking.

I will admit that I still have two Kraft dressing in the door shelf (next to the lettuce). That is the only brand of dressing that does not fit standing up in the bin. I guess it may depend on the size and model of your fridge or what brands you buy.

Celtic how about you try it half way? Put all the jars you can in the bins and huddle the too tall ones together in the door shelf in one spot. Then fill the door shelves with your oranges and stuff. When I evolved this system I started out by just doing that. I started stashing hardly ever used items (Mole, cranberry horsradish. Yes they make that.) in the bins with the fresh stuff and would pull things I intended to use up soon and put them in the door shelves so I would not forget about them. Eventually I just thought I would stick ALL my condiment jars down there out of the way. And put ALL my fresh stuff in the doors so I wouldn't be worrying all the time about the possibility of something hibernating down there for months.

I love the full view of fruits and veggies in the door shelves. I never "lose" anything anymore. I find I eat more fruits and veggies when I see them all the time everytime I open the door. Menu planning is streamlined and now I don't kick myself for not using the snow pea pods when I made stirfry because I forgot I had them and could have added them with the other stuff.

ClardeLuna, I see you are giveing it a try. You are going to love the instant visibility of the veggies and fruit. Keep us posted on any pros and cons with this system for you household.

Mustangs, thanks for the link to Green Bags! I never heard of such a thing. I guess they are quite popular as ClardeLuna has them and probably everyone else too. I am sooo out of the loop on some things.


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Bud, I did relocate a lot and filled one drawer, even though the mayo and ketchup have to be on their side in there. Put some produce (asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, citrus) in the door and I like it. One snag is that DH eats salad daily and has a collection of 12, yes 12 bottles of different salad dressings. Those take up a lot of the door space. I might have to ration him...and I keep a couple breads in the door already too.

Another snag is that I think I have too much produce for the door! Almost never eat frozen or prepared foods, and little starches of late. Mostly produce and dairy. And tons of fruit. I keep a variety in a bowl right next to the fridge. Berries, pineapple and the back up extra apples, pears and citrus are in the fridge, but most fruit is right there for grabbing.

I might end up leaving the root vegetables in the other drawer bin as they last forever. Not much to look at either. And I doubt I will ever eat rutabega on impulse!

I really do love the produce in prime storage concept. I'm gonna keep working at it.

Slightly OT, but with temps dropping and farmers markets filled with squashes, etc, I'm thinking of deploying space in my attached garage for a modern root cellar. There's a heater in there that keeps it from freezing. Why not store a winter's worth of beets, squashes, etc out there?


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celticmoon, can you lay them down?

one thing I hate about my fridge (well, actually, the only thing I hate about my fridge, but BOY DO I HATE ! I really hate this fridge; I wish I'd bought a cheaper one) is that there is VERY LITTLE TALL STORAGE.

I do OK w/ the veggie bins. But one thing I did was institute a rule: Leftover crudits, which get packed into a Tupperware/Rubbermaid-type container, MUST GO IN THE VEGGIE DRAWERS.

We were always setting them on a shelf, and then not getting them out.

I decided that the definition "this is a veggie" was much more important than the "this is in a leftovers container, and those go on the shelf" idea.

Now, we never end up w/ slimy pepper strips or floppy carrots in a container deep on the shelves.


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I haven't been that revolutionary, but might consider it.
I do save prime front edges shelf space for washed ready-to-eat fruit like bowls of grapes and strawberries. We reach in and grab.

For condiments, one thing that worked so far for me is a condiment tub that I keep on the shelf between the meat drawer and the veg drawer--a shelf that would be hard to see stuff in or reach back. I have some kind of plastic dishpan and put mayo, mustard, (yes, we need a couple kinds of both plus horseradish), pickles, pickle relish, ketchup all in this bin. Then just pull it out to make sandwiches, so everyone has all choices needed. This is easier than dragging out each item.

Anyone want to tackle freezer storage? That is the bane of my existence. We have a side-by-side. What is hardest is trying to store different items rather than just the same stand-by's. For example, I can create spots for ice cream, pizza, frozen veg,extra loaf of bread, frozen entrees--all that stuff. Then, when getting low or used up, replace.

But, when someone goes shopping and comes home with a half dozen different things, or maybe a larger size, then those items won't "go" with the items already on the shelves, and so things get jammed in, block things, fall out.

I don't have any space for a separate freezer at this point and don't think I would make best use of it.

What I've found is that I need to discipline my frozen purchases; keep several basics in their "spots" and have some open-ish space for other types of things we get from time to time, and shop for specific things in specific weeks--can't afford (organization-wise) to have some of everything, or lots of everything, all the time, or go crazy in the frozen dept.


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Frankie, I just organized my freezer. I had to make readjustments, but I it's working for me. I always leave the top shelf for half sheet pans to freeze individuals of things, before I vacuum seal them. In a pinch, I can use that space for anything extra. I LOVE the vacuum sealer; I don't lose anything to freezer burn anymore.

I decided to put flat packs of things we always have in the door, and allocated a shelf for bacon, one for sausage/beef dogs and smoked turkey, another for frozen veggies and the top is chilled glasses for beer. There is also enough room in the door for the occasional fish or shrimp, frozen custard or dessert, so it won't get lost.

Each main shelf gets it's own thing: one shelf is for beef, one for chicken and another pork. I also have colored plastic bins that are yellow-pork/chicken, blue-beef, green-veggies, that I throw the smaller things into. (I would have gotten a different colors for chicken and one for pork, but when I went shopping for these, my color choices were limited.) Flours (whole wheat, white ww pastry, oat, etc.) go on the bottom, then rice and other starches, and bread up towards the middle, with everything else above. It's a pretty good system for me, but it's also very subjective.


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Oh! I forgot to add...

I love frankie's idea of a condiment tub. My last fridge had all condiments on a Rubbermaid lazy susan, which was easy to use. I think the idea of a small tub inside the bin is great!


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Hmmm, my freezer compartment is still a mess. I like Frankie's idea of storage tubs. I think they would make a good solution for the freezer mess for me.

Right now I hate having to take apart the whole system when I come home with a lot of things that need to be frozen, in order to make room for new stuff. Since everything in the freezer is usually 'jammed in' things comes clattering out when trying to shove stuff around to put in new stuff or to look for other stuff. It would be easier I think to pull out a tub and organize or hunt for things that way. Then I'm not standing there hugging 5lbs of flour and 3lbs of flax, clawing around for the tiny supply of wheat germ.

I have two wire baskets that came installed with my freezer at the bottom but they do not remove easily. I always though "Why don't they make these things so they slide right out?" The rest of the storage is shelves and everything is on top of, or behind other stuff, so you have to pull everything out one by one to check for things. (That is unless half the stuff falls out onto the floor while you're trying to look and excavate.) Sliding a tub onto the shelves would solve this I think.

I just measured my freezer shelves and I'm going shopping!

Thanks Frankie, for the idea.

I love this place.


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The freezer is a lot like other clutter-storage issues--you've got to have some "free space" or ability to move things around just a bit; since everything is a different size and shape, you have to use the space that it fits. I have only one shelf that I can fit a pizza on, but not if it's full to the top, etc.


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While not a perfect solution, the bins in the freeze for beef, chicken, pork, have been helpful. I got the freezer baskets at Lowes. The other shelves and the door shelves are for prepared foods.

As mentioned before, the best organizational tool is discipline.

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Mustangs - You are the most organized person on this site :-) Your laundry room is to die for!

Did the label holders come with the freezer baskets? If not, can you tell me where you got them? Might be the answer to my freezer mish-mash.......


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The best information on this site is: I am not the only one whose refrigerator and freezer are always in disarray. Now THAT is the best news, if not tip, of the day.


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Wantoretire_did, Thank you for your comments!! The label holders are from the type you see at a grocery store in the dairy department i.e. plastic with the label slipped inside then hooked on the basket. I got them at the restaurant supply store.

I use the same thing for the refrigerator door door.


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No matter where you store the stuff, I just wish someone would send me some real tomatoes.

Gloria


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Gloria,

Have you tried the Campari tomatoes that come in the plastic containers? They're small but reliably delicious year-round!

Cintijen

Here is a link that might be useful: Campari Tomatoes


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Too bad these are not available in Alaska...

Oh, I was converted to this Fridge organizing system as soon as Bud posted about it. I have a small fridge but it works great! Thanks Bud!

Maria


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EXcellent idea, Bud! Thanks!
I've been slowly cutting down on condiments anyway, so this will work out well.


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Bud, that is a really great system. I need to do a big sort on the condiments and then it will work wonderfully well. I never put vinegar and catsup in the fridge. Should I?. I get those compari tomatoes at Costco all winter long. Here they come from British Columbia and are grown in glass houses that cover acres but they are reliable good,.....Tache


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Vinegar and catsup don't need refrigeration, so there's no need to take up valuable space storing it there.

Bud, just wanted to report that your system is working wonderfully well for us. It's so much nicer to have fresh produce accessible, and the Evert fresh bags really work for prolonging storage life. DH likes it too, which you know is an instant hit, since initially he didn't think it a good idea to sacrifice the produce bins. I also like storing the condiments in a less desirable real estate area, even though I had to lay some of them down. No problem, I just found some small bins that would fit and stored the tallest sauce bottles around the perimeter of the fridge. The advantage is they are in a single layer, so nothing gets lots and I have plenty of room for food that is prepared.

Thanks for sharing this tip; it's revolutionized my refrigerator storage and how I use it!


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I haven't reorganized the fridge yet, but probably will next week.

A caution, though! I checked both brands of catsup in the fridge, and both say "refrigerate afer opening". If you go through a bottle quickly, maybe you won't have problems. But my catsup is living in the refrigerator.

Vinegar is fine on a pantry shelf.


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I haven't used Evert bags to help my veggies stay fresh longer but I do want to. I saw advertised on TV Debbie Meyer Green Bags and was wondering if anyone has tried these. Are they the same as the Evert bags and will they work as good as those. I haven't been able to find Evert bags in my local stores so I will have to order online and the Debbie Meyer bags sounded like a good deal (but I'm not sure what the S&H cost is).


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I've been checking the stores for the Evert Bags that someone recommended here and can't find them in stores - Not even the health food stores. I guess I will have to order them online too. I had heard of them on TV but always thought they were a marketing gimmick. I am glad to hear from those here that they do work.

I'm still trying to find bins that fit my freezer size too. It looks like I will have to go to Restaurant Depot as I know they have them there but I can't purchase there without going with my boss as it is a members only store only for owners.

BTW catsup should be stored in the fridge. If you leave it out it won't spoil in a short time, which is why you see it left out on tables in restaurants, but it will go bad eventually. Restaurants take them off tables and refrigerate at night. They also go through a lot so it doesn't sit round for a long time like it does at home. Catsup has a lot of vinegar in it which is a preservative, and tomatoes are naturally acidic so it won't turn on you right away due to the PH, but I've seen catsup go bad from not being refrigerated. First it develops an "off" taste. Then it gets sort of "fizzy".


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I found my Evert Fresh bags at Whole Foods. If you have one in your area, you'll probably find them there. If not, they're working well enough for me, I'd get them online; Mustang's link to Reusable Bags is a good one. Check out their grocery bags too. I LOVE the Pak N Tote bags for Warehouse shopping, the Acme Workhorse bags are great for your purse. (I also like the Heavy Duty Grocery Bags, shaped like paper bags with handles and a pocket in front. I've been using them now for several months and highly recommend them.)

I looked at my ketchup bottle which said, For Best Results Refrigerate After Opening. I guess I've been getting less than Best Results, but have never noticed it going bad. Is this where I confess I also don't wash and rinse twice, like the shampoo bottle says to do? I'm so rebellious.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reusable Bags


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I have been using Evert Fresh bags for a few years and was surprised to see them in an infomercial recently. You will need some type of clip to close the bags. They are great for the BOGO mushroom sales; I was throwing away the free box of mushrooms so the sale was a waste for me until Evert Fresh.

*An organizing note. I store the bags in the refrigerator vegetable drawers to remind me to use them.


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Very interesting thread & ideas! I also do the bins as Mustang does for my freezer and made the labels with my label machine. Luv them as I can take a quick peek in the freezer and know (for instance) I don't need to buy Pork as I've already lots I need to use up. These likely work better in an upright freezer than they would in a chest type.

I have never in 50 years stored ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and many other such items in the fridge without any problems whatsoever and we don't go thru it fast being largely a two adult person household. I don't believe most of this stuff had such 'cautions' on them until the last 10?? or so years. Just corporate CYA. I'm not about to give up always valuable fridge real estate. I do store my pickles in the fridge but now that I'm thinking about it I'm wondering why I do that?? LOL! Pickles were stored in big earthenware jars for years. They are after all pickled. :-)) So now I've discovered more possible fridge RE. Yay!

Thanks for all the great tips!

Those with 'giant size jar syndrome' might perhaps benefit by my method. I buy the small(er) jars (once) then refill them from the large jars. That said I have a 2nd fridge where I can store large Mayo's or whatever so this might not work for all in all instances but may help someone.

Thanks for the Evert Bags info. I'll definitely be looking for those!


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I'm going to do this tomorrow!
Thanks, Bud!


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Let us know how it works out for you. I'd love to hear feedback from others who have tried it.


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I usually stop in here every few weeks or so, & just read.

I just had to come in, & say what a Brilliant idea this is!

I rarely use condiments. I'm going to put them in a clear plastic storage box, and stick them in the veggie drawer.

I have a clear plastic storage box that I put all my lunch meats, hot dogs, cheese's and bacon type stuff into on my second shelf, that saves alot of space in the fridge, too.


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I just stick the condiment jars directly in the "veggie" drawers. No need for and extra plastic bin. My bin is packed with condiments though. If you do not have that many jars a plastic bin is a good idea to keep them from sliding around when you open the drawer. Good idea for those who do not keep that many condiments on hand. Thanks for the input. Let us all know how the new system works for you.


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I must be doing something wrong? If I keep veggies and fruits anywhere in my fridge other than the two drawers on the bottom, they freeze. Advice?


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Most refrigerators have a setting that can be adjusted cooler>warmer. Do you have a dial in the fridge that has numbers on it or an arrow? Also, some veggie drawers have vents on them that can be opened or closed altering the temp in the drawers. Are the vents closed?

If your fruits and veggies are freezing in the refigerator something is not right. Does your water and other foods freeze too? Sometimes refigerators start running out of whack before they finally break. If it is a new and/or expensive refigerator it would be worth it to have a repairperson look at it. It could be something simple like the thermostat not functioning properly or maybe the fridge does not cycle off for some reason like it is suppose to.

Make sure you do not have the fridge packed with so much stuff that the air cannot circulate and maintain an even temp thoughout. A packed fridge can cause freezing of items near the output.


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Bud,

Thought I'd post a follow up after a couple months' trial. Still have my produce in the door and front and center, oddball jars o whatever are living in a produce drawer. On their sides maybe but who cares. It is working great. Thanks again!

Brilliant idea!

(PS go Pack)


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Not in the same league as Bud's tip (thank you so much!), but here are mine:

I have a shelf just for leftovers and I LABEL them! Keep a roll of blue painter's tape and a Sharpie by the fridge, and label each Tupperware with what it is and the date. You'd be amazed how much more of it gets eaten instead of slimy and disgusting when people know where it is.

Group peanut butter, almond butter and all the jams together. Likewise mustard, ketchup, mayo and pickles. These can go in long, narrow bins that make use of that back-of-the-fridge space where foods go to die.

Actually those long, narrow bins are just useful in general. Everything is more accessible when you convert your shelves to drawers, so to speak.

LauraG


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"Everything is more accessible when you convert your shelves to drawers, so to speak."

I hear ya! I am trying to convert my freezer shelves to removable bins like mustangs posted photos of. I am having trouble find bins the right size.

I've always had a bin in my fridge for all the different cheeses I buy. It keeps them all together real nice and I don't forget about any of them that way.

Maybe the refrigerator maufacturers will redesign things in the furture? A fridge with all drawers inside?????


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Bud wrote "A fridge with all drawers inside?" That would be my dream fridge as long as they were removeable for those times you needed height.


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I was going to add that too. They would have to be removable for those rare times that one needs to defrost a turkey or store a partial carcass of venison. Making them removable would also make it easier to clean and put new groceries away and keep organized, just pull it out and set it on the counter. When hunting for dinner just slide it out open for viewing, instead of bending over and using your arm to slide things back and forth looking for something in the back or hidden behind stuff.


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Should have posted a pic of the kind of "drawer" I use. This is just the right length to go all the way to the back of my fridge shelf:

Here is a link that might be useful: plastic shelf bins


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I'm confursed abot that. It says it's four and a half inches wide. What would you keep in it? It that one of those soda can dispensers? I don't buy soda but I have seen those dispensers advertised.

I'm looking for wire bins like mustange posted. Something that you can see through and does not block air flow leting the cold air circulate.


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The bins come in several sizes; I just happened to post a small one. That one would work for most jars, or for cheeses. There's one about 8" w that's perfect in the freezer for foods I've cooked and stored in quart-sized zipper bags. You just flip through them like CDs to find the one you want.

I'm not sure that a lot of air space around food necessarily keeps it colder, since when you open the door a lot of that cold air falls out and is replaced by warm air. But the cold bins never fall out and get replaced by warm bins! :) In any case, my little quart-bag CDs stay brick hard lined up in their little bins.

LauraG


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Wow. I'm very impresssed and sooo jealous. Really. You sound so organized. I dream of just flipping through my freezer like going through CDs. I make a lot of home made soups and meals, and my freezer is always packed to the gills and chaotic.

I see your point about cold air never falling out of the bins when the door is opened. It makes sense and offers me a new perspecive. I guess I am clinging to an old idea that was taught to me about needing cold air to constantely circulate around foods; maybe Mom was wrong, she was wrong about so much.


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"Wow. I'm very impressed and sooo jealous. Really. You sound so organized. I dream of just flipping through my freezer like going through CDs. I make a lot of home made soups and meals, and my freezer is always packed to the gills and chaotic."
Bud wi

Well, that makes two of us. I'd love to be able to fill up my freezer with real food again. My picky kids have pretty much cured me of that, and now I make a lot of sandwiches.

I started out freezing in the containers I had--random sizes and shapes--and that was chaotic. The Once a Month Cooking ladies convinced me to try quart bags, and wow, what a difference! First, the bag takes up less room than whatever you were using before, second your Tupperware isn't buried in there for weeks or months, and best of all those neat little squares are so much easier to corral! So now I have a little oasis of organized in a house with hyperactive home schooled kids. Need I say more? :)

LauraG


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I now freeze with the freezable canning jars which I vacuum seal. It's so much more uniform than the plastic containers.

Laura, since I assume you use a vacuum sealer, doesn't it cost you a small fortune to freeze with the quart bags?


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No vacuum sealer. I just press the air out as best I can, and sometimes use a straw to suck out the last of it. You can see the bag shrink up just like a vacuum bag.

LauraG


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Julia Child did that "suck out the air" trick w/ her plastic storage bags.


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RE: Organizing the Fridge

Admittedly, I procrastinated instead of doing this and just this last week I followed through!

We had some bad weather and lost power for 6 days--so it was a good time to clean out the fridge and freezers.

I did just that, went to town and bought groceries and stocked the *new* fridge.

I LOVE it! To see all that fresh stuff (whic is mostly what I eat) at a glance is the best! Packing my lunch and making any meal has become so mush easier and faster.

Bud, this is a great idea and I want to personally thank you again for sharing it here.

Any more stuff you're holding out on? LOL!


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Bud

Admittedly, I procrastinated instead of doing this and just this last week I followed through!

We had some bad weather and lost power for 6 days--so it was a good time to clean out the fridge and freezers.

I did just that, went to town and bought groceries and stocked the *new* fridge.

I LOVE it! To see all that fresh stuff (whic is mostly what I eat) at a glance is the best! Packing my lunch and making any meal has become so mush easier and faster.

Bud, this is a great idea and I want to personally thank you again for sharing it here.

Any more stuff you're holding out on? LOL!


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RE: Organizing the Fridge

Bud; I want to thank you for your brilliant idea. Although I read it when you posted, I wasn't ready until this weekend to make the switch. The concept works particularly well for me because fruits and vegetables freeze in my refrigerator bins (I suspect there is no insulation between the bottom freezer and the bins.) Bought my fridge when I bought my house 5 years ago, but as I wasn't cooking in my gutted kitchen w/o a stove the first year...it was a year (and off the warrantee) before I really noticed - anyway, because I loose much of what I buy, I don't buy/eat as many fruits and veggies as I'd like...Additionally, I've always kept a lot of white, whole wheat flour, corn meal, etc. in plastic bags taking up at more than 1/2 of one entire full width shelf. Consequently, I never seemed to have enough space left for everything else, and stuff always seemed to get crammed onto the remaining shelf space. This weekend I filled one of the big bins with all the flour, and nearly filled the other bin with condiments. Fresh fruit and veggies did not even completely fill the door bins- and now I have a huge amount of new shelf space...Wow!!! Everything is so visable,neat and orderly, and the produce is so enticing: I don't hate my fridge anymore!!!!!! Thank you so much!


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This has been a fascinating thread! I mostly lurk here, admiring those with the gumption to make their world better. Bud, you did great on coming up with a sensible system for fresh foods!

There was a question regarding leaving space between items:

Re baskets: Link is to the type I use, fitting them to the freezer's shelf depth. In my freezer, two sit side by side on each shelf. I also color-code with yellow for chicken, pink for beef, white for grated cheeses [pre-measured into 1-cup bags], and blue for pork. Another basket [pained purple] holds kielbasi, sausages, hot dogs. The freezer came with an odd but accessible bottom drawer which is sloped in back. This is fine for bagged vegs. Like most freezers, the door shelves have a tendency to not be as cold as the main portion, so those hold containers of flour, yeast, spices, dried fruit and pastas which will not be as affected by temperature fluctuation.

Freezers should always be packed as tightly as possible; use bags or containers of frozen water to fill in the hollows. A loosely-packed freezer will use more energy in trying to maintain the proper cold (as much as 30 to 50% more!). Read the owner's manual, because *some* freezers require an inch of space at the back to permit air-flow, but most don't -- and they all emphasize to not leave air spaces between packages.

Refrigerators should be arranged to permit some air flow, especially along the sides and back. An inch of space is plenty! The difference is that a fridge needs to rapidly RE-cool air exchanged when the door is opened -- and the door is usally opened a dozen or more times every day. Freezer doors are rarely opened more than once a day and the frozen contents themselves will cool the small amount of exchanged air.

Here is a link that might be useful: plastic baskets


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After reading the progress on this thread I finally kicked myself in the butt and did something with my frigerator. I tried the bottles/condiments in the drawer, but my frig drawers are too small to work effectively. So I thought a little basket in the back would be good. I had been thinking for a long time to put some dishpans in there and make pseudo drawers. Well I dug around and found I had a couple clear totes that were a good length to fill the frig depth and not waste the room in the back that was causing so much trouble before. I put them on the second shelf and it left room to lay a bottle of wine down with it and some other small things as needed to use the space more efficiently. It worked great. I then bought a basket that fit on the top shelf nicely. It was a bit deeper and was slotted on the sides for airflow. I designate this for things I need to use quickly such as produce, whack-a-tube biscuits, opened packages of bacon, eggs etc. In the back of the tote, I put some of the least used condiments to free up door space. Can slide out the tote or just reach into it. Next to that goes milk, juice, other bottles, etc and then a case of beer standing upright. Bottom shelf got yet another clear tote and then there's room for 12 pks of pop, large pkgs of meat waiting for me to deal with them and the like. This freed up a bunch of room in the door and I even have started using the bottom shelf on the door a bit better. Oh, the drawers. Well, one has always been used for storing batteries. I buy them cheap and keep a good stock and always have what I need. The other drawer? I put hot dogs, things like that in there. Generally more of a long term potential.

This has been working great! And it's been probably a month or two now and still great. I can find things much more easily. I don't have stuff falling out when I open the door. Much less stuff getting lost and rotting. I have my frigerator (after all, you can't REfrigerate until you first frigerate, right? LOL)drawers now, better vision and can actually hold much more.

My next project is the freezer. I'm thinking some plastic shoebox totes would work well for the small stuff that falls out and they'd stack. Still looking for ideas if you have any!

So thanks for the motivation to try something new.


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Just don't keep the milk on the door. It's tempting and looks handy, but the door is the warmest part of the fridge.Think about it. It gets a blast of warm air every time you open the dioor. Milk needs to be kept at 40 degrees or below, ideally 34 degrees. I hate funky milk that expires before the date on the carton!


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Bud, what a great idea! Did you ever find freezer baskets? I got mine years ago at the Container Store and am quite happy with them.

I've been planning to get some green bags anyway. I'll take a good look at my fridge and see if this plan will work better than the way it is now. (My fruit & veggie bins aren't overly deep, so not as big a problem as some.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Freezer Baskets


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Brilliant! I read this a while ago and finally tried it out. Produce in the door and condiments in the bins. Its really working out well. It seems I've doubled my usable space and I can see everything without getting stressed out looking for something, or crying over expensive spoiled forgotten food. Thanks Bud.


I also tried those Green Bags somebody recommended and I did not see any noticable results. I won't spend the extra money on them anymore.

I've also stopped buying condiments in those mega-sized containers just to save two cents. They take up too much room in the fridge and were part of the reason so much food got lost pushing everything around all the time. I used to keep the huge jars in the back of the fridge shelf and always had to remove just about everything on the shelf to get to the monster sized jar in the back of the shelf. It's amazing how changing little things like that can change your whole day.


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Oh I'm so glad this got pushed up! We are moving in a week or 2 so this is the perfect time to try it out. Told DH about it and it was fun to watch the changes in his face as he thought it out :)


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Bud - what an INGENIOUS idea you have there! I just got a French-door, freezer on bottom, ice/water dispenser on the fridge door refrigerator. Every time I open it, I feel like I'm in a Fairy Land! :) My last fridge killed my back from bending all the time. I use the bottom freezer for large items & my very extensive Penzey's spice/herb big bags. I keep the most-oft used spices/herbs in the fridge door...I use the bags to replenish my smaller jars.

I may just have to try that idea of yours...you've had some time to use your new method - do you still like it?

Steve O is right, bud...

Just one thought -- the best way to store fresh tomatoes is outside the refrigerator (refrigeration can give them a mealy texture), so that can solve one space/access problem. :-)

Storing tomatoes below about 55 degrees Fahrenheit results in measurably lower "aroma volatiles" (i.e., the things responsible for scents), says Elizabeth Baldwin, the research leader of the USDAs Agricultural Research Services Citrus and Subtropical Products Research Laboratory. A large part of our sense of taste comes from these aroma volatiles traveling up the back of our throat to our olfactory receptors; we perceive less flavor in foods with fewer of them.

Scientists have worked out that enzymes cause the reaction that forms aroma volatiles; which enzymes and exactly how theyre affected when tomatoes get colder is still being researched.

This is from Chowhound:
For the best flavor, store tomatoes on the counter. Baldwin says that a refrigerated tomato is unlikely to recover even if its returned to warmer storage. But cut tomatoes will spoil quickly if they are left out, so its best to eat the entire thing instead of having to stick some of it in the fridge for later. If you need ideas for how to use up your tomatoes.

Here's a site that talks about storing onions:

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Store Onions


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That switch-a-roo tip won't work for me! I have a habit of cleaning out the fridge BEFORE I go shopping. A neighborhood dog gets fed the leftovers that I KNOW we really won't eat. Any jars of leftover bbq sauce, chinese sauces, etc, get tossed if not used within 2 months. BTW - I DO mix my bbq sauces all together......:) You can get some really good sauce that way!


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I'm gonna bump this up. I just reorganized my fridge using some of these tips and I must say this is one of the most helpful threads I've ever seen on GW!!


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thank you soooo much for this amazing tip. ues, so much was getting wasted because it could not be seen. and the drawers in the door were full of stuff i hardly used
have cleaned out and cleaned up the fridge, moved the non-essentials to the humidity drawers, have lemons and other fruits etc in the drawers and have made great use of the fruit
have a shelf i have put near the top which houses the eggs ( raw and hard boiked0 and flattish things. cheeses are in the deli drawer. I hava different colour plastic bins on the other shelves and cab see and reach EVERYTHING
I can see already it will make such a difference for me
so thanks


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It's so nice to hear organizing sucess stories in this forum. Muspic, you mention boiled eggs in your fridge. I used boiled eggs all the time and used to keep them in a bowl. The bowl was always getting shoved around and the round shape took up a bit of space.

I now save the cardboard egg carton from the previous batch and rip the cover off of it and usually tear it in half to hold six, using it to store the boiled eggs. The missing cover lets me know they are the boiled ones and it is easy to grab one for a salad. I set it right on top of the raw egg carton(s). No more big ceramic bowl taking up space and the boiled eggs are always in the same spot.


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Worth a bump.


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