Your refrigerator and freezer are likely the most important features of your kitchen. Without them, you’d have no way to keep food fresh. You’d be constantly eating hot, spoiled food. Eating at home would no longer be enjoyable and you’d be apt to eat fast food all day, every day.
Luckily, you don’t have to do that. Your refrigerator and freezer probably already work great, but there are some ingenious things you can do to make them work even better. You can keep food better organized, with healthy foods always in reach. You can keep foods cooler and reduce waste. Ready to try some cool refrigerator and freezer hacks? Then read on and be inspired.
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Some parts of the refrigerator are hotter or colder than others, so it’s important to know where to put your milk and fruit in order to prevent premature spoilage. The warmest part of the fridge is the door area, so keep things there that will stay fresh longer – like condiments and drinks. But don’t put your milk there. Keep it on the lower shelf, where it’s the coldest. It’s also a good place for raw meat. The top shelves are consistently cold, so keep deli meats and leftovers there. The crispers are for produce – just don’t keep fruits and vegetables together. Fruits emit gases that can spoil veggies quicker, so keep them separated. The deli drawer is designed for – you guessed it – deli items.
Don’t put everything in the fridge.
Fruits and vegetables are perishable, but they don’t necessary need to be left in the refrigerator. Keep onions and potatoes in a cool, dark place. Tomatoes can stay on the counter. Most fruits can stay in a bowl on the counter.
Keep food at the right temperature.
Food that is too hot or too cold will spoil quickly. Food in the fridge should be between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while freezer items should range from 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep your fridge clean, inside and out.
A dirty refrigerator creates an unappealing ambience, no matter how fresh your food might be. Make it a habit to wipe down any spills immediately. Every couple weeks, spend an hour taking everything out and wiping down the shelves and sides of the fridge. Clean out the crispers and drawers. Get rid of any old leftovers or anything else that’s slimy or moldy. Keep the exterior clean as well. Get behind the fridge with a vacuum and remove all the dust bunnies that have accumulated around the coils. This not only makes your fridge look better, but it’ll perform better as well.
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Use the top of the fridge for storage.
The top of your refrigerator seems like the ideal space for storage. It is, but it’s actually pretty warm up there, so don’t use it to store food. Appliances and cookbooks are better options.
Pull out your fridge away from the wall.
A fridge that is backed up against the wall uses as much as 40% more energy. Save energy and money by pulling it forward just one inch.
Keep your freezer packed.
Freezers are meant to be stuffed full of food. That’s how they keep everything so cold. So don’t feel like you have to leave some room in there. Just pack as much as you can in there for maximum efficiency.
Give your fridge some breathing room.
Your fridge isn’t made to be packed like your freezer. Leave some room in there so that air can circulate. If the items in your fridge are packed tightly, you’re buying too much at one time. Consider small, more frequent shopping trips.
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Consider using a Lazy Susan.
It’s such a pain to have to take everything out of the front in order to get to the food in the back. If you find yourself doing this often, consider putting a Lazy Susan in the fridge. You’ll have easy access to everything, plus the items in the back won’t get neglected, reducing waste.
Use a box for items that are about to expire.
Have a few items that need to be used within the next few days? Place them in a box inside the fridge. That way, you’ll notice them every time you open the fridge and be more apt to use them timely.
Freeze what you can.
Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen for later use if you won’t be able to get to them right away. Milk, bread and butter can be put in the freezer as well. Pack foods tightly to avoid freezer burn. If you’re using Ziploc bags, remove the extra air first. Avoid freezing watery foods like apples, citrus fruits and cucumbers, as they’ll become mushy once they thaw out.
Use magazine holders for storage.
Place some magazine holders in your freezer to hold smaller items, such as burritos and popsicles.
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Label containers and freezer bags.
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what’s in that bag you took out of the freezer. Are they pork chops? Is it a chicken breast? Take the guessing out of food prep with some masking tape and a marker. Label containers and you’ll no longer have to have mystery meat for dinner.
By using these hacks, you can keep your two hardest-working appliances – your refrigerator and freezer – working smoothly and efficiently. You’ll waste less food and energy, so you can save more money. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?