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Melissa Schmalenberger, Areavoices blogger, Published January 25 2013

Areavoices: Professional organizer offers tips on getting your fridge focused

So I purchased a new refrigerator a few years ago and since then, how many times do you think I have cleaned out the door to my refrigerator? If you guessed 10x you would be living in a fantasy world that I am not a part of. If you guessed twice….you would be right! How embarrassing is that? Looking at it right now, I can see 4 things that need to be thrown out. You have things that stay in your fridge forever, you know those condiments and salad dressings on the drawer of your fridge. You also have food that spoils and needs to be eaten within days of going into the fridge.

Some space that is often overlooked in the fridge are the fruit and vegetable crispers, or what I like to call them….the spoilers! Once food goes in them, we forget about the food and it spoils very quickly. A good weight watchers trick is to keep your healthy fruits and vegetables at eye level, so when you open the fridge, your healthy options are the first thing you see. Use the crispers to store things like bottled water and beverages.

Another issue most people have are the leftovers or food that needs to be eaten quickly. One solution would be to have a dedicated space in your fridge for this food to be placed, such as a fridge cube. Have it labeled clearly so that everyone in the family knows to go here first for food and snack options.

One issue that I have is the food that I like to eat often gets pushed to the back and long forgotten. I would have to go on a search and rescue mission for my yogurt or protein shakes. I have found that if I use a special container called the bin pull fridge with dividers, I am no longer searching for what is mine in the fridge. I can easily see what is in there. Plus as an added benefit I can quickly see what I am running low on so I know if I should add it to my grocery list or not.

So I challenge you this week to clean out the door to your fridge along with the rest of your fridge by following these easy steps:

Pull everything out. Do one area at a time if the task of the entire fridge is too overwhelming.

Clean all of the shelves with warm soapy water.

Sort everything by if you think you are going to use it in the next couple of months (right now I know there is some salad dressing that I bought last week that tasted gross….keeping it in the fridge is not going to make me use it…it is only going to make me mad that I wasted the money on it….I am going to throw it out!)

Check the expiration dates on all of the items and only place back the items that have not expired.

Place like items together when you return them into the fridge. For example, put all condiments together, or how about all of the salad dressings on one shelf.

Do not store anything in the door that needs to be kept very cold. I have found that milk does not keep in the door without spoiling very quickly.

A turning lazy susan is a great alternative to keep items grouped together that are often hard to reach. The plus of a lazy susan is that it also can help contain spills if there is an accident in the fridge. You simply pull out the last susan and wash it off, instead of the alternative of have the spill go all the way through the fridge. These are great to use if you have young children grabbing milk and juice containers that can be spilled easily.

Clean out all of the containers that you are not keeping and recycle the glass and plastic containers as well as the metal lids.

Enjoy a healthier fridge focused on health and nutrition and not mold and weird science experiments growing on last month’s beef stew.