Monday, April 19, 2010

Kitchen Organization, Librarian-Style: The Fridge/Freezer Part 2, Efficiency, Space Utilization and Storage Techniques

Your Fridge/Freezer:  Efficiency, Space Utilization and Storage

 For many people, the problem with their fridge is that they're concerned about using the space efficiently and making sure that the amount of food inside keeps the fridge running with utmost energy efficiency. 

For those of us who don't have a choice in our appliances (e.g. renting), keeping an energy efficient fridge is the only way to make sure that we're making the most out of the electricity we use.

Freezer:  Stock it up, don't restrict air flow

While it's important to keep a freezer stocked, according to The Straight Dope it's important to allow some air to circulate in both the fridge and freezer.  If your freezer is empty, consider filling it with some plastic water bottles or other similar containers.  These double as great packs on the road or to keep your food cool if the power goes out.  Don't play Tetris in the freezer, though - remember to keep some ventilation in the front and back so that the fans can work properly.

Fridge:  Not just for milk and eggs

My fridge doubles as a storage container for the flour, sugar, rice and cornmeal that I use for cooking.  After one too many apartments had a bad ant problem, I now keep all the tempting treats in the fridge where not only are they kept safe from vermin, the whole grain items (like brown rice, whole wheat flour and cornmeal) stay fresher longer.  It also keeps the fridge full so that it takes less energy to cool down the air inside.  (Ain't physics grand?)

Snapware 401018 Mods 22-Piece Food-Storage Box Set 

I like storing my pantry staples in snapware  as it's easy to clean and almost easier to open.  Another advantage to storing items in these products is that they're easy to stack and store in your fridge.  They can go near the back as you might not use them as often as fresh produce.

Where should I put it?

Rubbermaid 7J91 Produce Saver Square 5-Cup Food Storage ContainerOver the course of a week, see what items you end up pulling out of your fridge the most often.  Have you found that the mustard gets top billing?  Pickles?  Grapes?  Store these items near the front of the fridge so you can reach them easily and conserve energy.  I hear great things about Rubbermaid produce containers and their ability to keep foods fresher longer.  As for me, I use a moist paper towel in the bottom of my storage containers - it wicks away moisture for the most part and I haven't had any issues with mold.

How should I freeze it?

To ensure that the temperature of your fridge and freezer remain at safe levels, always remember to let foods cool to room temperature before refrigerating so they don't increase the temperature in the refrigerator to an unsafe level.  Once the food is cooled from the fridge, it can then be transferred to the freezer.  I find that individually freezing and/or wrapping foods (on a small cookie sheet) and then storing them in zip-top plastic bags makes for easy access and mass transportation.  This works for homemade gnnochi, twice baked potatoes, burritos, cake - almost anything!

Cabinet Organizer - Wire Shelf (White) (16 1/2"W x 10"D x 5 1/4"H)

If your above-fridge freezer doesn't have shelves, I would highly recommend repurposing a cabinet organizer for your freezer storage needs.  It helps to distribute the weight so that you can remove items throughout your freezer without having everything fall in on itself.  I use the area below the shelf for zip top bag storage and the top area for storing beans, soups and casseroles in square containers that easily stack in small spaces.  Items like ice packs, nuts and ice pop containers go in the door shelving.

In the next and final post about the fridge, we'll be talking about man's best friend:  no, not dogs... leftovers!  It's like a bonus dinner.   See you then!

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