I absolutely hate throwing away food and am thus always on a mission to reduce food waste! I’ve found that keeping my fridge organized is one way to make sure less food waste is created.
Here are some tools to help you organize your fridge and food last longer!
This post is all about: How To Organize A Vegan Refrigerator
Table of Contents
Empty Your Fridge Entirely
To conserve energy, if your fridge requires some serious scrubbing and/or the shelves are not removable, first unplug it from the wall before emptying. If you don’t unplug it, make sure to close the doors between steps.
Then, take everything out of the fridge and toss the following items:
- fruit and vegetables that have gone rotten
- anything that is expired, including non-food items such as nutritional supplements
- leftovers that are more than four days old
If you have any items in the fridge that aren’t expired yet, but you’ve only used a couple of times and you are confident that you’ll probably never use them again, consider donating them to a friend! Think speciality items such as the Asian stir-fry sauce or curry paste you purchased to make that one recipe you saw on TikTok.
Lastly, if you previously put some baking soda in the fridge to eliminate funky odours or just to keep your fridge smelling fresh, toss it if it has been in your fridge for more than three months! By now, it has lost its effectiveness.
Give Your Fridge A Good Clean
Once your fridge is empty, give it a serious scrub if necessary. Wipe down the interior walls and shelves with warm soapy water and a clean cloth.
Don’t forget to wipe down the outside of the fridge and rubber seals as well.
After that, you can also use the vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment to clean the condenser fan! Cleaning your condenser fan is easily neglected, but is in fact very important to allow your fridge to operate efficiently.
Finally, leave the door open to air out before plugging it back in.
Now you have a clean canvas to work with!
Follow These Tips Before You Putting Your Food Back In The Fridge
Get A Lazy Suzan
Often times, the fridge contains a variety of half used condiment bottles which are stored throughout the fridge! This is a fridge pet peeve of mine.
Get yourself a lazy suzan, and contain all those rogue condiment bottles in one spot. Not only does it help keep all your condiment bottles together, it also allows you to easily access all of them without needing to reach in the back of the fridge. Just spin and pick what you need.
Get Some Storage Containers
Firstly, if your fridge doesn’t have enough drawers and compartments for your needs, get a few storage bins. These will help you section off items and keep your fridge organized. In my fridge, I group vegan dairy products, seeds, condiments, drinks, and fruit and vegetables together. I leave the middle shelf open for prepared meals and leftovers.
Other than storage bins, you can invest in produce containers, that can help you keep your produce fresher for longer. I use these OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Produce Keeper containers and they are truly life-changing!
There’s one last fridge container I personally can’t live without and that is a butter dish. There’s nothing that bothers me more than a filthy paper-wrapped half-consumed block of butter.
Install An Enhanced Carbon Filter
Does your produce seem to spoil before you are ready to eat it? There is an amazing gadget on the market that can help you last your produce for longer!
One of the reasons produce spoils quickly is because it gives off ethylene gas – a hydrocarbon gas produced by plants which is the major hormone involved in produce ripening. Not only does it give off ethylene gas, it also reabsorbs it.
Imagine there was a way to prevent produce from reabsorbing ethylene gas, and thus slowing down its aging process? An enhanced carbon filter does exactly that! This type of filter absorbs ethylene gas and is thus designed to keep your produce fresher for longer. Just pop one in your crisper drawer and you can stop throwing away rotten fruits and veggies!
Be Strategic About Food Storage
How To Store Cut Herbs
If you don’t grow your own herbs at home, and purchase a weekly bundle from the store, you might struggle to keep them fresh throughout the week. However, it is quite easy to keep them fresh in the fridge. The best way to do this is to rinse the herbs in cold water, then pat them completely dry with a paper towel. Once the herbs are dry, wrap them in a damp (paper) towel and place them in a sealed reusable silicone bag or airtight container. This will help them stay moist and fresh for longer.
Tip: If you do a lot of meal prep, like me, herbs can help you add extra freshness to prepared meals before serving them.
How To Store Fruits
Generally, washing fruit before storage accelerates their deterioration, but most berries are an exception to this rule. To make strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries last and not go soft and moldy quickly, you should wash them in a diluted vinegar bath. A vinegar bath helps destroy bacteria and mold spores on the berries.
Grapes, which are berries too, require to be pulled off their vine to stop the ripening process and thus last longer. Wash them with water, baking soda, and salt so they are ready to eat too.
Related: How To Meal Prep Fruit For The Week
Make sure to thoroughly rinse and dry your berries (including grapes) after washing. Then store them in glass jars!
Yes, it takes some effort to store berries properly, but not only will it help them last longer they will also be ready to eat whenever you are ready to eat them. It helps save time throughout the week and makes eating fruit SO much more convenient.
Generally, fruits should be kept in the fridge once they have ripened, to keep them from spoiling.
Fruits like apples, avocados, and bananas can stay on the counter. However, if you plan on eating them later in the week, storing them in the crisper drawer of the fridge will help preserve their freshness for longer.
How To Store Vegetables
VEGETABLES TO KEEP OUT OF THE FRIDGE
Generally, it is best to not store vegetables like potatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes in the fridge. These types of vegetables do not store well in the cold temperature of the refrigerator and will often become wilted and lose their flavor. Instead, keep these vegetables in a cool, dry place with good air circulation.
The best way to store lettuce in the fridge, and keep it fresh for as long as possible is to keep it humid in the fridge, while also making sure it receives enough air circulation. Wash it, spin it dry, and then store it in a colander or a perforated salad container that allows for air circulation. Place the container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This should keep the lettuce fresh for up to two weeks.
ASPARAGUS & SPRING ONION
If you are not going to be using your asparagus or spring onion on the day that you purchase them, try storing them in water until you are ready to use them. Place them upright in a glass or jar half filled with water. Cover the tips with a reusable silicone bag, so they don’t dry out.
In the refrigerator, mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag or reusable produce bag. Avoid storing them in anything airtight because it will trap the evaporating moisture from the mushrooms and they will end up discolored, moldy, or slimy. Let them breathe to keep them fresh. Only wash them (thoroughly) before use.
Most other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, etc should be stored in the crisper drawer of the fridge. This is where they will stay fresh and last the longest.
How To Store Tofu
If you buy vacuum-packed tofu, you should store it in the fridge in its original packaging until it’s time to use it.
If you buy freshly made tofu, store it in an airtight container filled with filtered water – enough to completely submerge the tofu. This water should be discarded and refilled every other day to keep the tofu fresh. When you follow this method, your tofu should stay fresh for up to five days in the fridge.
How To Store Prepared Meals And Leftovers
Store your prepared meals or leftovers as often as possible in glass or stainless steel airtight containers! You can find the links to the meal prep containers I recommend on the VMPS Shop Page. It is really worth it to invest in high-quality containers because they make a noticeable difference in the quality and freshness of your meals throughout the week.
Prepared foods maintain their freshness and quality for up to four days in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer, according to the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration).
Prep For Success
If you know you are going to have a busy week, make sure to do some meal prepping to make sure none of your produce goes to waste.
Meal prepping means preparing meals ahead of time. It involves preparing and/or cooking ingredients or entire meals in advance.
There’s no one way to prep. Depending on your lifestyle and what works for you, there are different approaches to meal prep:
- Prep raw and freeze: prep all your ingredients for a dish, and freeze them, ready to cook them later.
- Batch cook and freeze: cook a large batch of soup, or stew, and freeze for later.
- Individual meals prep: prepare food and portion it in single-serving containers.
- Ingredient prep: just prep ingredients ahead of time so that meal assembly is faster.
Did you find this post helpful? Don’t forget to let me know, by leaving a comment below.
This post was all about: How To Organize A Vegan Refrigerator