Did you ring in the new year with fresh resolutions? Whether it’s to eat healthier or just have more energy, it can be hard to stick to your goals if your fridge is packed with ingredients that will thwart your efforts. Give yourself the best chance of success by starting off 2022 organized and ready to cook! Here are six tips for organizing your fridge for the new year and beyond.
Most of us think of spring when it comes to doing a deep clean and re-organizing our homes, but any time is the right time for organizing your fridge and setting yourself up for a healthier start. For me, the changing of a calendar year always gives me that urge to get everything to reset to its best version so that I am starting things off organized and fresh. (With the hopes of keeping them that way.)
The kitchen is the hub of our home and because it is in a constant state of change it has the tendency to get a little cluttered and chaotic. I like the idea of creating structure and organization, not just because it satisfies my personal need for things to be put back in their place, but because it positively benefits how our household functions on a daily basis.
With 8 of us in our home, I'm sure you can imagine how easily the refrigerator can go from being somewhat easy to find items, to not knowing where anything is. My hope is to invest my time and energy (now) into coming up with a system of organizing the fridge that works for all of us (no matter the age) so that going forward my kids can embrace more independence in finding what they need and we can all spend less time searching for items.
Another bonus for a clean, refreshed home and kitchen? Our lives work in cycles. When the refrigerator is cleaned and stocked, it's easier to cook at home, make a meal plan and eat healthier – also saving money on eating out. When we eat better foods and stay hydrated, we're more likely to move our bodies. It all leads to a lifestyle that promotes more energy and achieving our goals.
6 Tips for Organizing Your Fridge
Make a Plan of Action
The first step in any healthy eating plan is to organize your fridge. The key here is to make a plan of action. Remove everything from your refrigerator and set it out all in one place, like a table or island. This should include not only foods that you want or need, but also ingredients and tools that you’ll need for meal prep as well as containers and other organization items. It’s easier than it sounds!
Thankfully BJ’s Wholesale Club carries their own exclusive brand of storage containers! Berkley Jensen Storage Containers makes it all SO easy. I purchased their Berkley Jensen 12 Pc. Smart Seal Container Set as well as their Berkley Jensen 20-Pc. Round Glass Food Storage Set and it pretty much took care of my entire fridge!
Decide where things are going to go. The goal is to determine their designated place so that it stays the same each time you are bringing your groceries in.
For example: the fruit always goes in the right drawer, the veggies in the left... etc. This might seem a little overboard, but if you are a visual person like me you can measure your space so that you know what will fit where and if you don't yet have containers, you can look up the sizes available and make paper versions of the base so you know how much room it will take up. (This isn't a step for everyone, but if you are working within a specific budget, I think this can help you make strategic purchases.)
Free Up Space in Your Fridge
Unfortunately, some of the food in our fridge goes bad before we can eat it, but a lot of times it's because we don't have storage space, or we can't see what we have and what we do have is overflowing with other stuff.
Before you get too far into your fridge cleaning and organization routine, take inventory of your refrigerator essentials.
This is where you can condense items to one container and toss food that is past its prime (like those Thanksgiving leftovers).
Get Rid of Temptations in Your Refrigerator
Refrigerators can be tempting in many ways—they’re where we store food, drinks, condiments and more. If you want to change your eating habits or cut back on snacking, it’s a good idea to throw away anything that tempts you into making unhealthy decisions, all while making those healthier choices simple and easy to grab!
Go Shopping for New Organization Essentials
This is the part that is going to require a little bit of investment, but in the long run it can save so much time and money. Plus, I love that BJ’s helps provide incredible value and unbeatable quality, offering real families, real savings. The goal is to find clear bins such as Berkley Jensen 12 Pc. Smart Seal Container Set and Berkley Jensen 28-Pc. Square & Rectangle Glass Food Storage Containers so that you can compartmentalize all of your items, but still be able to see everything. I decided to use a variety of bins. I love that the Smart Seal containers are easily stackable, some are deeper so they can hold more, and have air locking lids so our food stays fresh.
An additional step you can take is to label everything. You can label your bins as well as the designated item areas in the fridge. Most of the time you will see that the label is just one word (fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, etc.), something else you can add is a simple icon next to the word that your children (who can't read) would recognize so they too can start learning where things are and where they should go when putting things away.
Get to Work
Now that you've made your plan and you've gotten your supplies it is time to get everything in its place. First things first, I took my own first step advice and removed everything from the fridge and gave it a good cleaning.
Once the fridge was clean, I then went through and washed all of my fruit and veggies and prepared them (sliced, pitted, etc.) before putting them into their NEW bins. Then I got to work putting everything else in their respective bins and containers.
When it comes to packaged items, I like to stack them with the item name showing so that you can better recognize what something is at first glance. If something comes in multiple flavors, I like organizing them by flavor, so it cuts back on the need to dig through bins for a specific item.
Put Things Back Where They Belong
Where does everything go? When you’re taking food out of your fridge, be sure to put it back in its proper place. After all of that work organizing your fridge, getting into a routine will help you keep things organized and make meal planning much easier. The point is, don’t leave things lying around just anywhere. That way, if you need to find something quickly (say, lunchmeat), then there’s no searching around for 30 minutes trying to find it—you can just grab what you need and get going!
And just like that, you have a brand-new fridge and hopefully a new system in place that will make things more functional and easier for your family. My kids have already been so excited to reach for healthy snacks when they get home from school and pack healthy lunches... and frankly, so have I.
Making choices for a fresh new year doesn't just stop at the organizing the refrigerator, and while it's been a big catalyst for me, so has a commitment to move my body.
When I stocked my refrigerator with fresh fruits, veggies and lean meat from BJ’s, I couldn't help but notice all of the exercise equipment available in-club (and online, too!). I've had my eye on Kettlebells for a while now, and the price at BJ’s couldn't be beat – it was less than half the price of a similar item I had been looking at online!! Of course, into the cart it went and now I'm that much closer to reaching my goals as well.