With spring on the horizon, you may be itching to clear out all the excess stuff you’ve been storing away over the winter. It’s the perfect time to start spring cleaning and really do a deep cleanse of those not-so-frequently cleaned areas like your refrigerator.
Even if you wipe out your shelves on a regular basis, the refrigerators can still accumulate a lot of “stuff” when you’re feeding a family. With snacks, meats, bottles, jars and bags of fruit and vegetables, your fridge can house enough food to feed a small village – literally – and all those things can get smelly and, well, just plain gross.
However, cleaning the fridge isn’t just about wiping it down and washing the shelves. While that’s a part of it, cleaning the fridge can be a good opportunity to reorganize everything to help your life function in a more fluid way – especially when it comes to snacking and the kids.
I’ve partnered with Stonyfield Organic to share 8 must-dos when cleaning out and reorganizing your refrigerators. These tips will not only help you cleanse the refrigerator but hopefully one or two of them can help you eat a little healthier too.
Store food in coolers while you clean
Plan ahead and make sure you have some coolers ready to go for the food you want to keep. You won’t be throwing everything away and you’ll want to make sure that your to-keep food stays cool even if it takes a full hour or longer to clean out the refrigerator.
Use family friendly, food safe cleaners for spring cleaning
Because you’re spring cleaning the place that stores all your cool, eatable goods, you don’t want to use harsh cleaners. There are several cleaners you can make that will help you get your refrigerator shelves shiny and they will even allow you to scrub off that mystery liquid that’s caked on one of your shelves (at least). This all-purpose cleaner is my favorite:
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner:
- 2 cups of water
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- 2 tsp. of baking soda
- 5 tsp. of Dawn dish soap
- .5 tsp. lemon juice
This will leave your refrigerator smelling nice and looking sparkly.
If there are baskets and shelves you can remove, take them out and run them through a sanitize cycle in the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, soak them in the sink with a bit of dish soap and try the homemade cleaner on the tougher areas.
Also, to absorb odors on a regular basis, put a box of open baking soda in the fridge. Just remember to change it out every three months or you’ll have another smelly problem.
Toss out anything old
Go through the contents of your refrigerator with a fine too comb and when in doubt – throw it out! This is what spring cleaning is for! Purge it all.
Toss anything old like food from last week’s Chinese takeout, expired (or close to expired) condiments, older cheese, meat that’s at its expiration date (or freeze it) and almost finished or basically empty bottles of food.
Store each package of meat individually
For meat – chicken, beef, salmon – you want to keep each item wrapped in a bag or in a container of its own. Meat tends to leak and it’s one of the major contributors of the mystery liquid you just scrapped off your shelves. Adding this protective layer around the packaging will keep it from making a mess if it leaks. It will also keep it from contaminating other food that you may have sitting in the fridge solo like a bag of grapes or some leafy greens. No one wants chicken juice on their fruit.
Store a limited number of foods in the doors
The doors are the warmest places in the refrigerator. Each time the fridge is opened the door bears the brunt of the temperature reduction. This is fine place for condiments but try not to store lunch meat, fruits, vegetables and fresh cheese in the door.
Place kid-friendly and nutritious snacks within reach and at eye level
When you start putting food back in the refrigerator and get a chance to re-organize it, make sure to put kid-friendly snacks like fruit, Stonyfield Organic yogurt and vegetables at eye level and within reach. This serves two purposes:
- Putting it at eye level makes kids (and you) see the healthier options first and makes it more likely you will reach for those options. Doing this allows you to cleanse your food choices as you’re cleaning the refrigerator, and will hopefully, help you to make better decisions when hunger strikes.
- Putting the foods within reach of your children means that you don’t have to abandon what you’re doing each time a child of a capable age wants a healthy snack.
For instance, my kids love Stonyfield Organic yogurt and it’s one of the items I always allow them to go for as a snack because it’s so nutritious for their little bodies. It is USDA Organic Certified and made with milk from pasture raised cows. It’s also gluten free and non-GMO project verified. Basically, it’s full of good things and leaves out the unnecessary stuff.
We keep the Stonyfield Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches in two drawers so the kids can grab them for a mid-morning snack, an addition to lunch or an afternoon snack.
I also keep the Stonyfield Organic Snack Packs within reach too if they want a treat after dinner or we need to take a snack to-go. (I hide the Chocolate and Pretzel Snack Pack because those are for me and I don’t like to share. 🙂 )
Thaw frozen goods safely
Once you have your refrigerator loaded up again, do your best not to introduce new messes to the shelves by thawing foods safety. Put anything frozen on a plate so you don’t have a reappearance of the mystery, sticky liquid.
Keep greens fresher
To make life easier during the week and for meal prep by washing and storing leafy greens ahead of time. Place them back in their containers or a re-useable container to help keep them fresh.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?
For more information on Stonyfield Organic, click here. For more information on the Stonyfield products, click here. And, for a full run down for the differences between the words natural, GMO free and organic, click here.
For more home tips, click here.