The following article is a guest post by Rheney Williams. Please see her bio at the end of the article.
If your refrigerator could quote movie lines, it would probably shout out: “Help me help you. Help ME! Help YOU!”
Indeed, how many times have you opened the refrigerator door, stood there for several minutes trying to decide what you want, heard the compressor kick on, and watched as the frosty air continued to pour out while you tried to make up your mind?
Or maybe you know exactly what you’re looking for – you know it’s in there because you just bought it two days ago! – but, you simply can’t find it. It could be buried behind taller items or underneath veggies in the bins? there’s really no telling.
The good news is that there are things we can all do to enhance our fridge’s efficiency and of course, help ourselves in the process. To help with that, here are four things your refrigerator needs from you in order to do its job more effectively and conserve time, money, and energy for you both.
1. Ditch the Dinge.
The first thing you should do is conduct a thorough deep clean of your fridge’s interior. Remove everything before you start cleaning and wait until all surfaces are thoroughly dry before you restock.
I usually start by pulling out my bins and lining things up on the counter while I allow the bins to soak in warm soapy water in my sink. Then I remove everything else and wipe down the entire inside of the fridge with a soft cloth soaked in distilled white vinegar.
While the fridge and the bins dry, go through and toss all of the food that has expired or make plans to use the ingredients immediately if they are close to their expiration date.
*Money-Saving Tip: Americans end up throwing out an estimated 10% of all groceries we buy, so by staying on top of your refrigerated items’ expiration dates, you ensure less food is wasted and more money stays in your pocket.
2. Cleanse the Clutter.
Every time you open the door, you lose some of the power that your fridge has built up, but the energy loss increases exponentially when you leave the door open for any significant amount of time. To save more of your time and the fridge’s energy, a better solution is to organize like items together and consolidate packages whenever possible.
One great example of this is butter. Because I bake frequently, I always need to have fresh butter on hand. But because the sticks come in bulky boxes, they can take up quite a bit of room in the fridge. Any time I buy more butter, I always remove the remaining sticks from the open box, discard that, and place the wrapped sticks on top of the unopened new box. This also helps me to see when I’m running low and need to buy more.
3. Stock Smarter.
After you cleanse, consolidate and de-clutter, load your fridge in a way that facilitates order and efficiency. Make sure that you can see all of your refrigerated options and that you don’t have to pull everything back out to access things.
- Keep commonly used items front and center or stored in the side doors.
- Function under the “First In First Out” method: Whatever went in to the refrigerator first goes out first. When you restock with fresh items, put those behind duplicates that have been in the fridge longer and arrange them according to expiration date.
- Separate fresh produce from fresh and frozen meats and do not store them in the same bins.
- Likewise, do not store fresh deli meats with packaged meats like raw hamburger or chicken.
- Always keep raw meats on the bottom of the fridge in the event the packaging is punctured: The last thing you need is harmful, bacteria-laden uncooked chicken juices dripping down all over your fresh fruit.
4. Fill the Freezer.
Something else you may not realize is that a stocked fridge and freezer work more efficiently, but not when they’re crammed and filled to the brim. Find that balance between keeping them full without overflowing and always make sure that air can circulate around the items.
One simple trick that is especially effective in the summer is to fill water bottles with either water or all-natural fruit drinks, keep them stored in the freezer and pull them out as needed in the morning and they’ll be ready to drink by lunchtime! Not only does this keep your freezer sufficiently full – and appropriately efficient – but it also eliminates the need to add ice to your drinks when you’re out and about or worry about warm beverages when you and the kids need a cool drink after hours out by the pool or on the beach.
What other work-whittling ways have you found to enhance your fridge’s efficiency?
Rheney Williams writes about home décor and home efficiency tips for Home Depot. Rheney’s Charleston, S.C., home gives Rheney plenty of opportunities to test out her DIY plans. Refrigerator models similar to Rheney’s, as well as dozens of additional styles, can be viewed on the Home Depot website here.