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So much food, so little space...

My husband and I mistakenly went food shopping the same night without communicating. Why is this a problem?

Our kitchen is tiny, with no extra space for anything. So I’m looking at the duplicates we both brought home of nuts, dried fruit, granola, frozen fruit, and fresh produce, and thinking – “how can I organize this mess?”

I’ve never been a fan of decanting stuff into containers (like cereal, pasta, flour, etc.) It just seemed like too much work.

Well, I’m changing my tune! If I had see-through containers for all our pantry stuff and got rid of most of the packaging, I could probably fit everything in the frig and freezer and be able to even see what we have. And if we can see what food is there, then that food will be eaten, rather than go bad.

A recent survey by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch home appliances found that Americans throw away 103 pounds of spoiled food every year – averaging about four spoiled items per week. Based on this research, the average American also ends up throwing out $53.81 worth of spoiled food a week from their fridge, or $2,798 every year.

Hmmm… What would I do with an extra $2,798? What would you do?

All of a sudden shelling out some cash for those handy storage containers is sounding like a real bargain.

Not to mention the time sucking side effect of looking for stuff you need. The National Association of Professional Organizers reports that people spend one year of their lives looking for lost items.

So let’s get started!

Here’s how to do a makeover for your frig:

Purge and clean. The first thing you’ll want to do is, truly, take everything out of your frig or cabinet and throw out anything that’s expired as well as “science experiments.” Now is a good opportunity to wipe everything down and maybe lay down a liner or contact paper to keep things clean.

Measure. Measure your shelves so you know how long or wide they are, to plan for the right sized containers.

Choosing the best one. When you look at getting storage containers, here are some things to consider when making a choice:

For fresh fruits and vegetables? Make sure you know which veggies and fruits are compatible. Some fruits emit ethylene gas which makes them spoil prematurely and can affect other items nearby. Some notorious gas producers are: bananas, avocados, tomatoes, pears and peaches.

In the freezer? Some containers are freezer safe, some are not. Glass ones are good because you can easily see what’s inside, and they’re usually dishwasher safe. (Glasslock is a great option, it’s microwavable, goes from frig to freezer, and can go right into the dishwasher). You want to keep air and moisture out of the container to avoid freezer burn.

Are they shapely? The best storage containers are square shapes which efficiently use up the least amount of space. Round ones are space-wasters! Stackable containers help you maximize your storage area, keeping your goods easy to reach and to see.

Super airtight. To avoid serving lunch to little creatures like mice or bugs.

The little stuff. Deep drawer bins are great for organizing little items like jars of jam, peanut butter, or condiments. You can also take things like one-serving size snacks and stack them in a bin, which saves the space taken up by packaging. You can always cut out the nutritional info on the box and tape it to the back of the bin for reference.

Label leftovers. You can get fancy with a labelmaker like Dymo or simply use masking tape and a sharpie. Labeling everything with the date it was made, and using an identifier (“Sloppy Joe,” or “Turkey Breast”) helps increase the chance of actually eating these before they go bad.

Placement is everything. Put snacks and anything in heavy rotation toward the front, and new foods behind older ones so you eat them first. Of course, group like with like to make it easier to find what you have, like how many mustards you actually use…

Make use of vertical space. Tiered shelf organizers are great for storing items so you can actually see what’s all the way in the back.

Doors provide extra storage. Back of the door organizers are great place to store anything, particularly wraps and zip lock bags. Just make sure you allow for the depth when you place your other containers.

Now step back and enjoy having a neat, organized space for your food, and the fact that you’ve just saved yourself time and money!

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