Before you go on your next trip to the market, take the time to give your fridge a thorough cleaning out. Check all those condiment bottles, the bottom of the crisper drawer and the back of the fridge, and pull out anything that is no longer fresh. Once you’ve done this and wiped down the shelves, drawers and door, it’s time to get organized.
Removable, washable plastic trays and bins make it easy to clean up when a container springs a leak — just remove the whole tray and toss it in the sink or dishwasher. Bins are great for corralling groups of items that you would like to store together.
Make it Easier to Keep Track of Leftovers
Keep a roll of masking tape and a felt-tip marker near the fridge for marking leftovers with the date, and you can tell at a glance whether something needs to be used up soon or tossed.
The door and top shelf are the warmest parts of the fridge. The middle shelves maintain the most consistent temperature, and the bottom back stays the coldest. The drawers usually give you some additional control for humidity, which can affect how long fruits and vegetables stay fresh.
Washing produce when you get home from the market can be a great time-saver when it comes to making dinner on busy weeknights. However, since water can make fresh produce go bad more quickly, be sure to thoroughly dry all fruit and vegetables before putting them in the fridge.
- Whole, washed peppers, carrots and celery can be returned to the drawer after being thoroughly dried.
- Freshly washed lettuce should be dried as much as possible in a salad spinner and then gently wrapped in paper towels inside a large zip-top plastic bag or food storage container.
- If you plan to chop veggies or fruit in advance, store the cut pieces in airtight food storage containers and plan to use them within a few days.
Ideally, we would all have pots of fresh herbs within arm’s reach of our kitchen. If you do have an herb garden, aim to snip only as much as you need at one time. If you don’t grow your own herbs, try these methods for keeping those bundles of store-bought herbs fresh for as long as possible.
- Fresh basil and cilantro can be treated like a bouquet of fresh flowers: Snip the ends, place in a glass of water and store on your counter. This works well with most other soft, long-stemmed herbs as well (such as parsley).
- Smaller bundles of herbs can be gently tucked inside a plastic bag, along with a layer of dry paper towels. Keep the whole bundle in the fridge door, where it’s warmest.
If your fridge is overstuffed, it could be that you’ve been storing some items that would be better off on the counter or in a cool, dark pantry.
- Bananas, avocados and any fruit that still needs ripening should be left on the counter.
- Tomatoes, melon and delicate, farm-fresh berries taste best when left at room temperature and eaten within a day or two of bringing them home. But if you need them to last longer, go ahead and stash them in the fridge.
- Keep oils, coffee, bread, potatoes, onions and whole heads of garlic in a cool, dark place (such as the pantry).