Getting our kitchens in order right now is more than a luxury. It’s essential. Now more than ever, we need to assess what we have in our pantry. Only then can we know what items we need to purchase so that trips to the grocery store can be limited.
We’ve decided to break the kitchen into two separate posts so that we can focus first on food storage and organization first, and then next week we will tackle drawers, shelves, and cabinets! Let’s get started!
Refrigerator and Freezer
Depending on your storage situation, keeping perishable items stocked up for the long haul can be a challenge. Making sure that foods are visible, stored in the proper place and kept cold will help to extend their shelf.
Keep Cold Items As Cold as Possible and Stored Properly
- Did you know that the back of the refrigerator is the coldest spot? It’s true, and that’s the best place to store milk and other dairy products.
- Keeping eggs in their original carton and on a shelf rather than the door will keep them fresh longer and prevent them from absorbing odors.
- Keeping the door closed as much as possible also keeps the cold air where it belongs — inside the refrigerator. And a colder refrigerator means fresher items for longer.
- Store fruits and vegetables in their respective drawers. Mixing fruits with vegetables can lead them to speed up the ripening process for one another. This means your fruits and veggies could spoil faster than you want them to.
- Condiments and drinks can be stored on the door because they have the longest shelf life. They will be less affected by the temperature fluctuations caused when the door opens and closes. Save precious real estate on shelves and in drawers for the items that perish more quickly.
- Keep foods in resealable bags that are clearly marked with the date and contents.
- Make sure that items are completely cooled before putting them in the freezer so that it doesn’t risk defrosting other items or melting ice cream.
- Fruits and berries freeze really well and can be used for smoothies, pancakes or other recipes.
- Vegetables and dairy can be frozen as well, especially if they are being worked into cooked dishes after use. Texture may not be as firm as when fresh, but they will be edible and useful when fresh produce runs out.
- If you have a significant amount of freezer space, cooking in batches and freezing in individual or family-sized portions can be a huge help.
- When it is time to defrost items, the safest way is to take it out the night before and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator rather than on a counter. This will ensure food is kept at a safe temperature throughout the defrosting process.
- Remember — food in the freezer doesn’t last indefinitely. For tips on how long items can remain frozen check this link.
Waste Not Want Not
- When getting to the store infrequently, leftovers are your friend. Be sure to store them on a middle shelf where they are visible to eat for lunch the next day or to incorporate into the next night’s meal.
Having a pantry stocked for meals that don’t require refrigeration or freezing can extend the amount of time between grocery store visits. Items like rice, pasta, grains, quinoa, canned and jarred vegetables, beans, nuts, and canned fish can provide meals for weeks.
Buying in Bulk
- Buying in bulk is not only great for your wallet but also a win for the environment. Less packaging is a win for everyone. Just remember to write the date of bulk purchases on the container that you store it in, so that you can keep track of freshness.
- When organizing the pantry, we know space is a major issue. Not everyone has a huge space for storing dried goods. Especially now when we are buying items in bulk, we try to keep smaller containers of similar items in the kitchen pantry. When items run out we refill it with items that are stored in the basement or elsewhere in the house.
- Store baking goods on one shelf so they are easily accessed together. Pasta and other grains can be stored on another shelf. Canned goods can be grouped by use, on a third shelf. Snacks and treats on another.
- Storing root vegetables in the pantry is also a good way to save room in the refrigerator. Just make sure to keep onions away from potatoes and other veggies and fruits (think apples or squash) so it doesn’t lead to early spoilage. Keeping potatoes and onions in a cool dark place is best for extending shelf life.
For more tips and recipe ideas for cooking from your pantry check out this NY Times article.
For guidelines on how long you can store items, check out this quick and dirty list.
And for some fun kitchen inspiration check out Ina Garten’s IG!
How’s your organizing going so far? Are you finding that you are loving your home more and more with each week? We hope so! Tell us below!