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This topic contains 33 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar of evie007 evie007 10 months ago.

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  • #158360
    Avatar of PKitty
    PKitty
    Member

    I just looked at a nice before and after at Real Simple for a fridge makeover. My problem is my fridge is just PACKED with condiments! It is ridiculous! Jams, sauces, chilis, pickles, olives.

    How do you guys organize your fridge? I am tempted to chuck it all out but I just know it will immediately start accumulating again.

  • #162675
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    My fridge is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/badkitti/4279738750/

    Its a standard european fridge, that’s why its small. I used to have lots of condiments in there, and had them stashed on a pull out plastic drawer – you can just see one holding the chees and one holding the meats in the photo.

    Do all your condiments need to be refrigerated? You can have a good arguement in the UK over whethr ketchup should be in there or not. Do pickles need to be kept there? If there in vinegar etc. won’t they keep anyways in a cupboard? Our mustard and marmite is not fridged. Nor are the pickeld onions. If I think it’ll only be used rarely and must be fridged I buy a smaller jar, so ther is more space.

    Every so often look at the jars and plan a meal around them – even if its a weird pickles, cheeses and bread picnic meal for dinner!

    Good luck!

  • #162677
    Avatar of PKitty
    PKitty
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    That’s what I want it to look like! It looks like you could actually prepare a meal. Mine looks like you could have ketchup with three kinds of mustard on it.

  • #162678
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    We’ve never stored mustard in the fridge!

  • #162679
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member
  • #162682
    Avatar of PKitty
    PKitty
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    You a GOOOOD kitty.

  • #162683
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    lol!

  • #162696
    Avatar of nellieb
    nellieb
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I’m in Houston, Texas and two years ago, we lived through Hurricane Ike and no electricity. I was fortunate, I only went 3 days without power or maybe it was 5…it was minimal compared to those who went three weeks without electricity.

    Nonetheless, I threw out everything from my refrigerator and freezer. And I’ve been very slow to replace all those condiments I thought I needed to have. I buy only what I use…which is not that much…I’d rather have fresh fruit and vegetables and they are consumed rather quickly!

    Here is one of the best websites I use that tells you the life of food in the refrigerator…great guidelines for knowing when to toss it out!

    http://www.stilltasty.com/

  • #162700
    Avatar of AJ
    AJ
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Thanks Nellieb, a very useful site.

  • #162707

    Fridge Clutter

    We’ve just returned to south-east Queensland after spending three years in the tropical north. We had to have so much more stuff in the fridge there than we do now – spreads, garlic, assorted fruit & veg – for two main reasons: mould and ants. We got to the point of seriously considering buying a new fridge because a week’s worth of shopping had so much difficulty fitting in (we try to avoid shopping multiple times a week).

    Two things helped:
    Menu planning – means that we are less likely to buy things that we aren’t going to use that week and will hang around taking up valuable space;
    Containers – we’re fans of Tupperware but use whatever is good for you. Containers, particularly square shaped ones, help you “see” what is in your fridge (so long as you don’t stash things too deep) and allow you to place some things on top of others that you otherwise couldn’t do (e.g. full milk cartons on their side on top of ripe fruit/veg).

    Do do a clean out of your fridge – you’ll see what things are past their “best before” dates and should be tossed and this will also give you a better idea of whether you actually use that product. Then only buy something when you need it, not because it’s on special and you might want to eat that “one day”. I’m currently trying to not buy any snacks until we’ve used up the ones we already have. :-)

  • #162709
    Avatar of Mrs.Mack
    Mrs.Mack
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Consider which condiments (or anything else in your fridge/freezer) that you don’t need carefully. Toss those you know you rarely/never use. Then consider which really need to stay in your fridge. If you have more cupboard or drawer space than fridge space, perhaps you can keep them there instead (many sauces don’t need to be refrigerated, even though it says to sometimes on the bottle… try Googling it).

    Plan your meals. That way you won’t have to get a bottle of something you only use once. Planning ahead will allow you to either avoid those recipes or give you time to find appropriate substitutions.

    One day a week, go through your fridge and use up leftovers and toss mystery packages that have spoiled.

    Keep a backwards grocery list on your fridge door, where you write down what you DO have and when they expire. This will remind you to use things before it’s too late (stuff in the back or bottom tend to be forgotten), and will keep your electricity bill down a bit since you won’t be standing with the door open trying to decide what you want. Also, having this list will keep you from buying duplicates (and show you at a glance what’s been crossed off so you need to pick up).

    Repackage. Some bottles and containers are really bulky. Buy a bunch of bottles/containers that will streamline things, label them, and fill. Perfect examples are ketchup and mustard. They usually are pretty fat, but those “picnic bottles” are pretty slim and you could keep them in that. Meat can be put in Ziploc bags. All sandwich ingredients like cheese, deli meats, pickles, etc. can be put in a shoe box (or a store-bought container) to corral them. This keeps them all together for convenience, but also keeps them from wasting space (since they’re all small, putting each on a flat surface creates unusable dead space above them).

    Some cupboard storage units might be useful too, depending on your fridge.

    Think of the fridge like a closet when organizing, and you’ll have it in great shape in no time.

  • #162714
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Oh yes , ants! I lived in East Africa for a while and we would have to refridgerate a lot of extra stuff because ants love trailing in and seeing what you’ve got. Dry cat biscuits seemed to be a particualrly good ant food.

  • #162715
    Avatar of Claycat
    Claycat
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I was just reading about the ants in Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. (I love those books!)

    What country did you live in, badkitti?

  • #162716
    Avatar of badkitti
    badkitti
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I lived in Tanzania – where I first read those No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Books. I worked here (always willing to promte the charity so no apologies for the link: http://www.schoolofstjude.co.tz).

    The tiny brown ants that ate my food were unappetaising but harmless – outside were the trails of black ants with biting soldiers. They used to seek me out – I can say “I have ants in my pants” in swahili, neede when you run into the ladies and start stripping off your clothes in front of the local cleaners! ha ha ha

  • #162718
    Avatar of Claycat
    Claycat
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    LOL!

    What a neat school! Thanks for the link!

  • #162785
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    we live in the wet tropics of far north queensland. which equals bugs and mould and a shelf life of two minutes.
    even so, i try and keep the fridge stuff to a minimum.

    one way that works for us is to just have ONE kind of jam on the go at any one time.
    open a jar, keep it in the fridge and when it has gone, open another.
    same with sauces and stuff.

    this thread has inspired me to go clean out my fridge anyway.
    i know there are some ollllldddddd choko pickles lurking in the back and NOBODY is going to EVER eat them.
    if i toss them then i can use the jar for the sweet chilli sauce i made last night!

  • #162791
    Avatar of Kaz in Oz
    Kaz in Oz
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    We’re a family of four with a fairly large fridge, so we have plenty of space for condiments.
    Having said that, we only have the top shelf with sandwich spreads and jams and sauces organised in shelf baskets to make meals easier, and 2 door shelves worth of jars of ginger, garlic, curry pastes and the like, that have reasonable shelf life.
    Our fridge gets a complete empty and clean out every 4 weeks just before I do a major grocery shop, but I manage to keep on top of expiry dates by only buying stuff that we actually use and not bothering to buy big jars if I know the recipe only calls for a small amount. My sister and I often swap jars of stuff that we’ve tried out and not liked, so that can be an options too.

  • #162792
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    well i cleaned that fridge out and it looks so nice in there now.
    i’ve got room for a big bag of juicing carrots now.
    nom nom nom.

  • #162882

    Fridge Clutter

    badkitti – I wonder if the tiny brown ants of Tanzania are the same species as the ones of north Queensland. We moved to Mackay at the beginning of 2007 and in October of that year we visited Townsville.

    There was info in the booklet of the hotel room that basically amounted to:
    “There are little brown ants in my room!”
    “Welcome to north Queensland.”

    It went on to say, “Please don’t feed the ants; keep your food in the fridge in your room.”

    We hadn’t seen these little ants in our house in Mackay at that stage but a few months later, in they came. I assume that the pest control chemicals had worn off. We were able to discourage the black ants with little baits but the little brown ants just walked right through the baits and kept on going. Thumping the bench to scare them away also didn’t work.

    In the end we just accepted them as part of life in north Queensland and put open jars of things in the fridge instead of the cupboard. It was still annoying when they would crawl all over you and then bite you because they decided you were edible!

  • #162890
    Avatar of klutzgrrl
    klutzgrrl
    Participant

    Fridge Clutter

    regarding the “I just know it will immediately start accumulating again” – that is SO key to so much uncluttering! Not bringing it in, in the first place!!!

    I’ve pretty much banned myself from op shops (thrift stores) and really try to think twice before I buy anything at all.

    With groceries – plan meals and shop with a list. I use some premixed spices now rather than attempting to make 50 varieties of curry from scratch, and only keep one type of salad dressing, mustard, tomato sauce and soy sauce and that’s about it. Use up one, then buy something different next time.

  • #162894
    Avatar of PKitty
    PKitty
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Wow so massive fridge de-cluttering happened and now I have been using up what is left. It’s great! I am going to look for some nice clear food storage items today so that we can SEE what is leftover and possibly eat it instead of allowing it to start a colony in the fridge.

    Thanks for all the great ideas and support.

  • #162959

    Fridge Clutter

    LOL. It is a battle!

    I have put my foot down and refused to have more than x amount of whatever. Use it up THEN open more and even gone as far as won’t buy another until gone.

    I also found with trial and error what works for our family. TWO salad dressings but that is better than the 4 we used to have. One jam and peanut butter are fine. Mustard is something we like variety on occasion. For that I buy the large size for our standard and then the smallest I can of the not so used one.

    Buying smaller does work. I know in some ways you pay more for the smaller size but then if it takes precious space and you end up throwing away some of it- it is worth it.

  • #163026
    Avatar of adorita
    adorita
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I think your problem isn’t organizing, but purging. I have a sharpie magnet to my fridge in which I put the date of purchase as they come in. That way, I can tell if I really use something or not. If you haven’t used a condiment over a year, throw it out.

    After you have decided what to keep. I recommend buying some trays or baskets. It is so hard to reach for stuff at the back of the fridge that you might just forget what condiments you have! I use the Peak Freans cookie trays, holds 6 jars each. I put all the curries in one, all the Japanese sauces in one, all the hot dog/burger condiments in one, all the jams & peanut butter in one… When I cook, I pull out the whole tray depending on the theme.

  • #163034
    Avatar of PKitty
    PKitty
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Yes adorita, I think you are right. I made a list of all the condiments I retained and have been meal planning around them. It is working beautifully. I am good at setting things like this up – not so good at sticking to them so that will be the test.

  • #163065
    Avatar of Aunt Cloud
    Aunt Cloud
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Exactly a year ago, the Washington Post had an Eating Down the Fridge challenge: basically, no grocery shopping for a week, planning menus around the mystery items, creative pickles and eggplant-cilantro marmalade jars that were lurking in the back of the fridge and pantry.

    ***Who is up for another EDF challenge?***

    The (slightly modified) rules:
    For one week, only buy perishables (milk, eggs, bread, fruit and veggies).
    Make a list of archeological stuff in your fridge and pantry. If it expired, buh-bye. If not, plan a meal around it.

    I’m moving in less than 3 weeks so I’ve been trying to EDF for a while. Tapioca pudding is actually being cooked as these words are being written, to finish up a bag of pearl tapioca that came into the house for my first, last and only attempt to make bubble tea (some dishes are better left to the professionals).

    My challenge items for this week include:
    Hot pepper jelly – 1/2 jar
    Sauerkraut – about 2 cups
    Pickles (of course)
    Creamed coconut (it looks like a bar of soap – used it for a very complicated Indian dish I cooked from scratch and would like to make again – someday!)
    Red lentils
    Coconut milk – about 2/3 cup
    Canned mushrooms – 3 tins
    Pumpkin puree
    Molasses
    Spring roll wrappers

    Today’s cooking:
    Red lentils, coconut milk and carrots from the bottom of the veggie drawer will become soup (with some ginger, cumin and curry).
    Mushrooms will be sauteed with onions, mixed with eggs, cottage cheese and some sour cream and baked until nice and golden, a perfect light dinner.

  • #163076
    Avatar of lookinout
    lookinout
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Two thoughts which may be of use. I have discovered that my vegetables live better if I don’t put them in the vegetable drawer. I have them in two baskets above the drawers. So I put Cdn bags of milk in one drawer below, and sauces, condiments etc in the other drawer. And the drawer which is labeled ‘Meat’ is used for cheese in my house.
    For things that will expire, use a marker and rewrite the date where you will see it. In fact, date pretty well everything in the fridge.

  • #163255
    Avatar of Mom25dogs
    Mom25dogs
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    Like everyone else I have a condiment problem. Salad dressings, different hot sauces, etc. It’s just my husband and I but it does seem to accumulate. About once a year I try to clean out but there is still a lot of this stuff. I try to use some plastic baskets to corral these things. It’s something that can be pulled out like a drawer and you get all the salad dressings in one fell swoop. Or all the hamburger/hotdog/sandwich condiments at one time. But I’m going to have to find a little bit bigger basket since I’m overflowing and that defeats the purpose.

  • #163508

    Fridge Clutter

    Aunt Cloud – after moving several times (most recently in December) I know how you feel about eating things before moving. My challenge is not so much EDF as EDP (pantry).

    I need to do something with the almond meal I bought ages ago. The original plan was to make orange and almond cake but I want a recipe that doesn’t use eggs / eggs can be substituted with “No Egg” or equivalent and for preference doesn’t require boiling something like 6 whole oranges!

    The only other thing that I do with almond meal doesn’t use lots; it’s a big packet that won’t fit in the Almond Meal container when it’s opened without using lots to begin with.

  • #232031
    Avatar of klutzgrrl
    klutzgrrl
    Participant

    Fridge Clutter

    Hey I did come up with a clever fridge-uncluttering trick yesterday.

    I moved some of the condiments from the door and used tall tupperware containers to hold veggies. A bit of water in the bottom of one to help keep the herbs fresh. (Most bottles fit in the body of the fridge where I raised a shelf; keeps the milk and water nice and cold).

    That keeps them away from the coldest part of the fridge where they freeze, and they don’t get squashed. The egg compartments (which I don’t use for eggs, it’s better for eggs to stay in their boxes) are the perfect size for keeping cut citrus or half veggies, or small packets of things like baby tomatoes or whatever.

    The narrow long shelf is great for celery or bags of salad greens.

    The door of my fridge now looks like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. (except behind layers of plastic).

  • #232033
    Avatar of Zora
    Zora
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I just learned a new trick re herbs: treat them like flowers. Cut the stems to make sure that they can draw up water, put them in a glass, and fill with water to cover the stems. Put a large clear plastic bag over all, so that the leaves don’t dry out. Store in not-the-coldest place in the fridge.

    I used to waste so much cilantro by leaving it in a bag in the veggie drawer. Even washed and wrapped in a wet paper towel, the cilantro would rot. Now it will last a week or more in the glass and bag.

    Half of the current bunch of cilantro went into some green papaya salad yesterday. The rest is slated for a Peruvian onion-garlic-dried chili pepper-peanut-cilantro sauce to go over new potatoes.

  • #232043
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    I will have to try both these tips thanks.

  • #232058
    Avatar of TatiLie
    TatiLie
    Member

    Fridge Clutter

    My whole bottom shelf is filled with jars. We have three types of jam for a start (one is from an exotic fruit, another is marmelade for the carrot cake icing and the third is the usual raspberry). We also have miso paste, gari (picked ginger) tamarind paste, tahini, olives, capers, two types of mayo, Swedish fish, picked onions and gherkins… very varied stuff and used for completely different dishes, and once they’re finished we will rush to buy more! Kitchen is my weakness. I can live with three colours in my wardrobe, only black shoes, two sets of towels… but I need variety of food!

    I also treat herbs like flowers. They stay by the window in a vase. I also do this with hydroponic lettuce.

  • #234388
    Avatar of Lauren Addis
    Lauren Addis
    Member

    Really clutter create mess everywhere. But I really liked all these ideas. Thanks for providing.

  • #234389
    Avatar of evie007
    evie007
    Member

    The first step when organizing anything is to clean it all out.I remove everything from my fridge and throw away expired food and unused condiments as they go. Thanks for sharing wonderfull ideas on how to organize things in fridge.

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