Welcome to 2014!
Is your refrigerator running? Well then you better go catch it!
Take a good look at your fridge right now. Are you happy with how clean and organized it is? Is it as clean as a few months ago before the holiday season started?
The past two months have gone by in a hurry. The holiday season is over and there is always a ton of left over food from the brunches and dinner parties. A messy fridge will make the New Year seem cluttered even if the food is hidden behind closed doors or stored in a secondary fridge in the garage. It'll always be watching you.
There may also be expired products from last year hiding in the back. A good practice is to clean the fridge at least once a week. That way all of the perishables are constantly being monitored and taken care of. When your refrigerator starts to run out of space, it is usual a sign to start cleaning it.
How to clean your fridge
The first step is to take every item out of the fridge and give them a good hard look. The decision to keep them or throw them away can be based on multiple aspects. Never be afraid to throw things away. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to food from your own refrigerator.
It is vital that you open and unwrap everything to check if they are expired or not. Be sure to check the expiration dates and immediately throw anything that is bad or questionable out. Make sure to open all of the drawers inside your refrigerator and completely empty it. The goal of this exercise is to empty your fridge, throw out everything deemed uneatable, wipe down all of the jars and condiments, and reorganize everything. Make sure to take the trash out shortly after this. The expired products thrown in the trash can rot quickly and being to make the kitchen smell, good thing it's not summer in Laveen!
Once you have completely cleared out the refrigerator, it's time to start storing your items in their proper places. Dairy products such as cheese, butter, spread and yogurt can go in their designated drawers. Condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard etc. are usually put on the side of the door, although they can be placed in the top shelves too. Just make sure they are put separate from the meats and other perishables that may contaminate them.
Speaking of contamination, to avoid cross-contamination, store raw meats in an isolated part of the fridge. If storing raw meats next to other foods is unavoidable, you can store the meat on the middle or top layers of the refrigerator in a plastic bowl to catch the juices that may leak out of the package. This way it minimalizes the possible contamination and keeps the area clean.
Maintaining a clean fridge
Now that you've successfully given your fridge it's first cleaning of the year, the hard part is maintaining its cleanliness. There are a few tips that will help you in the long run. If you clean our your refrigerator before you go to the grocery store, you'll have a better idea of what you need, what you have, and what is about to expire. This way you can buy groceries around what will go bad soon and make use of them. Another tip is to move items that are close to their expiration dates or leftovers to the front of the fridge. This serves as a visual reminder of what's going to go bad soon and what you should eat first.
An important tip that many of you are not aware of is to only store things that need to be refrigerated. Keep the items that actually stay fresher at room temperature outside. Items that are better at room temperature include honey, onions, tomatoes and more. Honey becomes too thick in the cold, onions become soft at lower temperatures and the cold turns tomatoes mushy.
Deciding to clean the fridge out is a big commitment. However, after you take that first step, the rest of the process seems so much easier. The most crucial part of the cleaning process is making a note to wipe the inside of the fridge out at least once a week. At the very least, once before each grocery trip.
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