While having healthy food inside your fridge is important for good health, it is also important to arrange and organize these foods in a healthy and safe way to prevent cross-contamination, off-flavors, and foodborne illness. So, here's your guide to organizing your fridge for optimal deliciousness, food safety, and health.
1. Upper Shelves
- Ready-to-eat foods
The upper shelves have the most consistent temperatures, making them the perfect place to store these perishable items. Also, these items need to be kept above all others to prevent cross-contamination (when bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one object to another), as most of these will not be heated prior to consumption.
- Do NOT store here: eggs, dairy
The doors are the warmest part of your fridge – so, while fridge manufacturers conveniently provide you with a nice little egg-storage slot, varying temperatures will make your eggs spoil more quickly. So, where to put those eggs? See #3.
3. Lower Shelves
- Raw meat
These items pose the highest contamination threat – keep these low in your fridge to prevent any of their bacteria-laden drippings from touching other foods (especially those that won't be cooked / heated).
- Frozen fruits
- Frozen veggies
Freezing food is a great way to save money – it allows us to buy in bulk (save money) and store extras / left-overs free from spoilage for an extended period of time. And while freezing food doesn't kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms, it does significantly slow down their growth, thus preventing food spoilage.
One of the best uses of the freezer is for bread storage – you can freeze bread right in the bag for up to 3 months! Say goodbye to those pesky mold-spots and general bread wastefulness.
Note: avoid freezing anything in glass containers – glass can easily crack / break at freezing temperatures, creating a very dangerous situation. Instead, use plastic bags and/or containers when storing food in your freezer.
5. Crisper (those drawer-things)
These storage areas help to maintain moist conditions, thus effectively preserving the taste, texture, and nutritional quality of your fresh fruits and vegetables. Note: DO NOT STORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN THE SAME DRAWER. Many fruits (particularly apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes) produce ethylene, a plant hormone that causes fruit to ripen. However, ethylene can also promote ripening in other plants, causing vegetables to go limp, turn yellow, or even sprout – yuck.
Optional Fridge Items
If these products are laying around your kitchen for a long period of time, storing them in the center or upper shelves of your fridge (or even in your freezer) will help prevent off-flavors from developing. However, natural nut butters and some seeds (hemp, chia, and flax) should always be stored in the fridge once opened.
Refrigeration Not Recommended
Tomatoes become mealy and odorless in the fridge, so store these on the counter. For similar reasons, store your un-cut onions, squash, and potatoes in a cool, low-moisture environment, such as in a dark cupboard. However, once cut, be sure to store these guys in the fridge.
Sometimes organizing can be fun, right? Right. Game plan: On a rainy day (which are plentiful here in Ohio) make a batch of my Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies (following a healthy, well-balanced meal of course) and use this fridge-organization guide to keep your healthy food healthy and tasting good for longer. Healthy food, healthy fridge, healthy life.
Eat well (from a healthy fridge),
Images / Information adapted from greatist.com