Monthly Clean Home Challenge: The Refrigerator

Welcome back to the Monthly Clean Home Challenge daily task!  I am on a quest to maintain a clean and organized home in less time and the goal is simple; four daily tasks, four weekly tasks and one additional quick task each week day. 

In no particular order, here are the individual tasks I am tackling each day this month:
  1. Make cleaning supplies
  2. Cycle clean appliances
  3. Clean out cars
  4. Clean out microwave
  5. Wipe down cabinets/appliances
  6. Wipe down trim/doors
  7. Clean out one drawer
  8. Clean out fridge
  9. Clean out freezer
  10. Vacuum under furniture
  11. Vacuum mattresses
  12. Clean oven
  13. Clean out one closet
  14. Wash out garbage can/recycle bin
  15. Wash windows
  16. Scrub grout
  17. Clean out one cabinet
  18. File paper piles
  19. Purge bathroom toiletries
  20. Clean out pantry

Today I am chatting about the extra task:  Clean Out Fridge

The actual process of removing everything from the fridge and wiping it out really only takes about 2-5 minutes.  However, our fridge needed to be organized so badly, that I tossed that extra task in there today as well.

Late last summer our fridge decided to stop being functional, and knowing we had an upcoming kitchen project in the wings, we decided to upgrade to a stainless steel side-by-side version.  When we brought home the upgraded appliance, I was more excited about the idea of having a new organizing project to tackle than I was about the new fridge itself.  So what the heck happened?

I don't know what my excuse is; it turned into one of those, "I will get to it next week" projects that over six months later still had never happened.  Until today that is!

We try to keep the majority of our diet to fresh foods, so we head to the grocery store at least once per week.  Typically we are good about cleaning out leftovers and old food and taking a quick inventory of what we already have prior to heading out the door.  This also helps us with our weekly meal planning process.  It is what happens to the food when we return home that is the problem.  Above you will see an example of the fridge as it was this morning, two days after a trip to the grocery store.  My hubby put the groceries away, and although I personally know of the shelf/bin system that I had created inside my head and in the fridge, my family does not.  They play the guessing game and just put things where they will fit, vs. categorizing them to where they make the most sense.  Also, I am the stickler about washing the fruit and de-packaging the items, my hubby, not so much.  My goal is to get us all back on the same page.

So, I started by taking everything out of the fridge.  The shelves get dirty and they needed a good cleaning.

As I removed things from the fridge, I placed them on our counter in general categories. 

I quickly wrote down the categories and tossed the food into a couple of laundry baskets in our garage until I could get everything organized back in our fridge.  I guess there really is a benefit to the cold Wisconsin weather!

Using a water/vinegar combination {food safe}, I quickly wiped down the top and bottom of each shelf as well as the insides of each drawer and bin.

I also removed the drawers and wiped down the floor of the fridge along with all of the interior walls.

Once the interior of the fridge was looking sparkly and new again, I began to strategically place everything back in by category.

The top shelf is now dedicated to leftovers, sides and containers of fresh fruit.

All of our beverages take up the next shelf.

We love having a lunch kit and recently added a bin for our breakfast items as well.  Although, our lunch basket has not been making the most of our vertical space ever since we upgraded the fridge.  For years now I have loved using the multi-purpose bins from the Container Store in our freezer, so I have been adding them to our fridge as well.  We initially looked at picking up a few of those fabulous Fridge Binz, however, when we compared the price along with the size/height, the multi-purpose bins won with us big time.  They work especially well in the side-by-side, in which each shelf is taller and more narrow.

To ensure there is no more confusion regarding the items that belong in each bin, they each received an adhesive bookplate label holder and label. 

Trying to be better about the types of snacks I grab for in a hurry or even while sitting at my desk, I put together a few jars filled with fresh fruit.

Because we typically eat yogurt for breakfast, those two bins were paired together on their own shelf, along with our bottles of juice which typically accompany our breakfast as well.

While cleaning out the drawers it occurred to me that one was much smaller than the other.   When placing items back, the produce was put into the larger drawer, while our meats and cheeses were placed in the smaller of the two.

To keep it easy to grab a quick apple, I added a separate basket to the drawer to hold them and prevent them from rolling around.

The bins in the doors are perfect for corralling all of those "other" jars and condiments that typically clutter up the shelves of the fridge.

I did dressings/sauces in one, milk in one {I know some say not to store your milk in the door but we have been doing this for years and between the glass keeping it super cold and the fact we drink so much so fast, it really doesn't have a chance to go bad}, smaller jars for jelly, salsas and pickles in one and the bottom holds tall bottles of water and wine.

So although the cleaning process could have taken me 5 minutes, I opted to take it a step further and spend about 30 minutes on the entire project.  We already had the bins and baskets, so it came down to just putting everything away and adding a few labels.

My fingers are crossed that this will stick because I totally love having a clean and organized fridge and it gave me that super excited feeling I was hoping for!  Now... don't ask to see our freezer yet... that has been much more neglected....

Looking for something?  Check out my favorite cleaning products below:

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