Back from the bowels of my fridge

Filed in Blog by on November 3, 2008 21 Comments
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a clean zero waste fridgeYou may remember I had a joyless task to attend to on Friday. Well I’m proud to say, that with the motivational tones of Pat Benatar blasting out on the stereo ‘Hit me with your best shot’ I did the chore and cleaned out the fridge.

There was nothing else scary lurking in there, the scent was just general unclean fridge with a hint of old cheese and overtone of hidden cream spill with a tantalising follow through of slimy watercress.

But I did find quite a few cats hairs in there. Hmmmmmmm. My neighbour is currently not talking to his cat because she OPENED his fridge and helped herself to a cooked chicken LOL!

I had a bit of an Epiphany moment as I was putting back the various shelves and egg tray that I never use. I realised that I shove fresh stuff in the salad crisper right at the bottom of the fridge. Once I’ve put things on the shelf above the drawer everything in there gets covered up. This is a sure recipe, not for delicious stir frys or hearty stews, but mouldy, forgotten vegetables.

I was about to put back all the jars of various chutneys, jams and sauces when I thought ‘Hang on a minute’ (as you do when you’re talking to yourself) ‘Why not put the stuff with a long shelf life that sometimes get sticky residue on them in the salad crisper (which means I can just take out the salad crisper and wipe around its bottom if it gets dirty) and put the fresh stuff on the shelves so that I can see it?’

Genius eh?

I’m also trialling a ‘house rule’ where anything that needs using up within a few days lives on the TOP shelf. So you can see in the pic – jars and bottles in the salad drawer, veggies and cheese in the middle and the three things that need using on the top shelf. So far so good. Mind you, it’s a bit of a ‘low-on-supplies’ time of week, so what it will be like in a few days time when I can’t shove another cat’s hair in there, I can’t say.

I’ll keep you posted on my thrilling moment of awareness.

What about you – what tips do you have for ensuring things don’t get forgotten in the fridge or fruit bowl? We all know what we think we SHOULD do, but what actually works for you to minimise your food waste?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (21)

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  1. maisie says:

    I tend to keep my baking chocolate in one crisper drawer and choc biscuits/bars in the other.

    As I have a weekly organic veg box the majority of that stays in the box on the kitchen floor which is tiles so no excess heat and this keep lovely and fresh, salad items go onto one of the shelves,it is usually set up like this.

    Top shelf – jams, chutneys etc and fresh cream

    Shelf 2 – cheese box for extra butter, cream cheese, grated cheese in box

    Shelf 3 – Yogurts and any other dessert type items (jelly and fruit)

    Shelf 4 – Usually a bowl of tuna & pasta (boys scoff this when they come in from school), any other sandwich fixings that are made up, salad items

    Shelf 5 – Bottles of milk from milkman, any meat that is defrosting.

    Cripser drawers – as above

    In the door I have

    top rack – blocks of cheese and ground coffee

    rack 2 – fruit juice, mayo and salad dressing

    rack 3 – 2 large bottles of water, 2 large bottles of made up squash

    rack 4 – milk in use, my wine

    Admittedly this fridge is a 5ft larder style.

    I do have a small fridge in the shed which usually house DH beer and any excess of cheese, marg, and chutneys etc.

  2. Kris says:

    My fridge is a very similar size to yours, and this weeks concern is that the very full veg drawer at the bottom has a sweaty shelf above. I like your idea of taking the fresh stuff into the main body of the fridge but think I may keep my veg in the bottom drawer as it usually keeps very well on breathable mat (Lakeland) and we just need to eat lots of it and soon.

    The top shelf of our fridge tends to hold lunch themed stuff – salad items, spread, cold meats or fillings for sandwiches, salad cream… sometimes the spoils of the market – scotch eggs and olives.

    Middle shelf gets packs and tubs stacked in it, so any meat, fish, meal bits I’ve bought, half tins of ravioli, cheese in a tub. And untidy shaped things like bags of mushrooms because there isn’t room in the veg bit.

    The shelf above the veg box holds a determinedly-managed small collection of jars – pickled onion, chutney, sandwich spread and we’ve just used up some lovely jam. There is also a bottle of water, and the rest of the shelf is used for surplus milk.

    In the door we have a lidded shelf which has butter portions and sundry cheese at the moment. Then there is the ‘naughty shelf’ – I tend to put chocolate in there, though I currently have some lemon sage too.

    And finally the door holds his and hers milk and usually a couple of cartons of juice.

  3. Katy says:

    I haven’t got a system at the moment but I like your idea of a “use me soon!” area. My worst habit is putting little jars (like pesto) or half lemons in that lidded shelf at the top of the door. Out of sight, out of mind – oops.

    We are quite good at making sure yogurts are in date order, oldest at the front – although as we gave up yogurts for waste free week that is a bit of a redundant tip now! Also we freeze meat or fish that we don’t plan to use in the next couple of days.

    Generally not much gets left in the fridge for very long as we shop to a plan and by the end of the week it’s all looking a bit Mother Hubbard!

  4. We shop to a menu most of the time and get what we need but we do have some left over stuff now and then. My fridge is just generally grubby and has that Clean Me smell when you open the door.

  5. Tracey Smith says:

    Funny you should mention this, but my lovely hubby took a cloth to ours today! And also to the cupboard where I shove all my Riverford veggies….there was a sort of ‘film’ – lolol – all around it. I suspect it was it’s own little eco system!

    Just needed a good wip wap with lemons and bicarb and all was restored.

    I hate cleaning – who invented it? There are far more important things to do in life….


  6. Wow that’s a wonderful looking fridge. Well done Mrs G. As you can gather I’m a no system girl, which is why my fridge interior is still looking like the height of chaos. One day, it will get a makeover and then it will last for one day. Now that you’ve got the veggies out in the open, you could try a freshpod to help extend their life πŸ˜€ x

  7. jen cleanbin says:

    You have the tiniest fridge I have ever seen! Maybe it’s a North American thing, but ours is much taller and deeper, allowing for much more food to be lost at the back only to return as a new creature unto itself (mmm, mould). What about door storage? Do you not have racks in the door? We seem to get condiments out of control. Right now there are no fewer than 25 bottles in there! I’m not kidding.

    I’ll be interested to find out if your veggies stay fresh being “out in the open” and not in the crisper. I am envious of your organization!

  8. BohoBelle says:

    I love your ideas. I’m going to re organise our fridge tonight.

  9. just Gai says:

    What a beautifully organised fridge Mrs Green.

    I work part time (mornings) so I am usually home for lunch when I make an effort to create a meal out of any leftovers in the fridge. However this method is not foolproof and I have to confess that from time to time I discover plastic containers full of unrecognisable gloop.

    Like Kris I keep vegetables in the salad drawers on a green foam mat from Lakeland which seems to prevent them going soggy.

    My biggest challenge is the sheer volume of jars. I am a sucker for exotic pastes and sauces which require refrigeration after opening but which often don’t last until the next time I reach for them.

  10. Good job! Your fridge is looking like mine now. lol

    And you are totally right…my fridge is waaaaaaay bigger than yours. I will never complain about the size of mine again, promise.

    The good thing about a smaller fridge is that it could keep you from wasting so much(you can only stuff so much food into a tiny fridge!).

  11. Mrs Green says:

    πŸ˜€ I’m always amazed at the posts that generate so much interest and result in comments. I love you people for sharing your lives here. Especially fridge anecdotes…..

    Maisie, I would love a bigger kitchen so that I could store stuff on the floor like that. Tiles sound perfect and it prevents things getting lost and going off.
    How long will grated cheese keep once grated do you find? I should do that because I hate grating cheese with a passion, but if I could just grate a whole block and have it last a week I might do it.
    We have two fridges – this is the small one in the kitchen and I have a large one, that sounds like yours in the annexe – It is very scary though and I have not dared take its photo! Your’s sounds really organised. Excellent stuff.

    Kris, it looks like it’s soup time for you then LOL! Either that or friends around for dinner. I’ve not heard of those breathable mats; I’ll take a look at them.
    ‘His and hers milk’ LOL! We have a similar system for milk **raises eyebrows**

    Katy, the out of sight, out of mind thing generates so much waste doesn’t it? I’ve taken to a plate on the work surface that has use me RIGHT NOW items in it – bruised apples, lemons with the rind already grated off, floppy carrots and then I see them when I prepare the next meal.
    Planning shopping is a good idea, I tend to shop as and when now, but it can lead to trouble if I don’t check fridge and cupboard contents first.

    ‘Clean me’ smell. Oh yes, I hear you on that one. Well, not any more, but you know what I mean. I think **I** have it now as LMG just told me in no uncertain terms that I needed a bath – nothing like kids to tell you how it is LOL!

    Oooo, Mrs S – glad your husband was cloth weilding; and I love the sound of your personal eco system growing under the veg box – they are no stranger to me πŸ˜€ I don’t like cleaning much of the time, but I DO like and need the results for my sanity, so it kinda outweighs the negatives.

    Mrs A – I’ve been thinking about trying a Freshpod; I take it you find yours beneficial? The fridge is still looking good today – wahee! I’ve managed 3 days. I’m a reformed woman, obviously πŸ˜€

    Jen, I WANT, COVET and NEED an American fridge; I was raving about Kristen’s yesterday – go look at her gorgeous fridge; it’s bigger than my bathroom LOL! The fridges over here are ridiculous; just like our cookers. Mind you, I do now have a 6 hob, double oven cooker, so I’m a happy bunny about that!
    25 bottles in the door? We have one rack and that stores about 4 litre containers of juice and milk πŸ˜€
    Will let you know on the veggies; so far so good.

    BohoBelle; good luck with the reorganisation; let us know how it goes.

    Thank you, Just Gai and lovely to see you here again. I did enjoy reading about your zero waste week.
    Eating at home does make things easier; especially as it is easy to make snacky things for lunch which can be comprised of all sorts of odds and ends. I really must look into one of these mats.
    As for jars, we’re pretty good on that; DH is the condiments person and he knows what he likes and sticks to it. But I have friends who love all sorts of dressings for their meals and inevitably they get wasted as they go off so quickly once opened.

    Oh Kristem; I wish – I’m coming to live with you just so I can call that fridge of yours my own. I’m gonna DREAM about owning a fridge like that. In fact I think I would make up the bottom shelf as a bed and sleep in there; it’s so lovely.
    I can only stuff so much food into it; you are right. And for that I shall be thankful πŸ˜€

  12. maisie says:

    Hi Rae,

    I buy mature cheddar cheese when it is on offer and then grate loads in the food processor and freeze in 100g boxes, which is ideal for most recipes.

    I also grate the normal everyday stuff and that would keep in a tupperware box for easily the week if done fresh from buying.(doesn’t often get chance here though we my cheese muncher (DS2).

    I find the grated seems to go further than if I have a block to cut at.

  13. Kris says:

    mmm… cheese… πŸ™‚

    I think I’m happy with my little fridge (I have a little freezer too) but it was a big thing for us when we moved to larder style (no ice box) as they made it just big enough!

    I love Maisie’s organised 100g batches πŸ™‚

    As for his and hers milk – I hate the taste of cream so long ago moved right down the scale to skimmed, which t’other half refers to as ‘water’. However, he now drinks the 1% stuff that only Sainsbugs do and says it is indistinguishable from standard old 2% skimmed in taste.

  14. Kris says:

    Stirfrys for us I think – maybe a bubble and squeak experiment πŸ™‚

    I’ve asked my sister to ‘do a Jamie’ and pass it on with some soup-making tips and practical demonstration, but no time yet.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    Thank you Maisie – I’m going to try that. I find too, that when grated it seems to go further – strange!

    Mmmm, bubble and squeak, Kris – yummy comfort food. We have goats, soya and rice milk in our fridge currently LOL!

  16. Jo Beaufoix says:

    Mrs Green you are brilliant. We will definitely be doing this. So simple, but it will be so effective. Thanks for taking part in the Carnival of Trash, and I really admire what you and your family are doing. Almost Mrs Average is an inspiration isn’t she. πŸ˜€

  17. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks Jo – enjoy rearranging your bowels too. And yes, you can’t beat Mrs A for rubbish inspiration πŸ˜‰ Thanks for hosting the carnival – can’t wait to read it…..

  18. SherryGreens says:

    Fantastic idea! I love mixing things up. Why do we have to always do everything the same way anyway? I will definitely be instituting items on the top shelf rule.

  19. Mrs Green says:

    @SherryGreens: Great Sherry; let us know if it works for you!

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