Organizing the Refrigerator

Tired of finding science experiments? These organizing the refrigerator tips should keep you neat and save you money.

Use Stations
My RefrigeratorIf you group the food in your refrigerator into logical sections or stations, management will be a lot easier. With left overs always in one spot, it’s easy for everyone to get to without questions.

  1. The top shelf in my refrigerator is for yogurt, bacon fat, sugar syrup and other things I use to for food preparation. It’s the prep shelf.
  2. The second shelf is for things that accompany meals, like jelly, olives, and other condiments that don’t fit on the door.
  3. The third shelf over the vegetable drawers, is for left overs and food that is chilling in the refrigerator before being cooked. This makes it easier to use up leftovers. In the picture at right, notice the container of sour cream. That is actually a container of left over rice, that I used to make Jalapeno Stuffed Peppers.
  4. Vegetable and Fruit Drawers – I think it’s really important to keep fruits and vegetables separate. Fruits give off gases which will spoil other foods around them more quickly, so best to keep them by themselves. Never put a banana in with other fruit, it gives off the most gas of all.
  5. Tall shelf – of course, you have to have one shelf for tall drinks like milk and water. I have a pitcher with lemon water in it, and an empty gallon milk container with plain water on the door. It’s better to keep the water there instead of the milk because with the door being opened and closed all the time, the water will not go bad, but the milk could.
  6. Refrigerator door – even there I try to keep like things together. My beef, chicken and vegetable bases are together with my shallots in oil, tomato paste and anchovy paste tubes. All the mustards are together with the horseradish. Condiments like Worcestershire and Girards’ salad dressings are together. It makes finding and putting away very simple.
Put your eggs in a bowl

Quirkey Egg Minder at Amazon

Quirky Egg Minder

How many times have you gone to the store and not bought eggs because you thought you had some? I remember numerous times that I thought I had everything for a recipe, only to pull out the carton of eggs and find I only have two when I needed four. So, now, I keep my eggs in a bowl, and I use the carton for interesting craft projects, including Egg Carton Roses.

If you want to get techy about it, you can get a Quirky Egg Minder that you can use with your smart phone. The device tells you how many eggs you have, and how old each egg is, so you don’t have to worry about eating old eggs.

Which ever way you choose, bowl or high tech, anything is better than the cardboard containers. Besides, you need those for craft projects!

Keep your cheese in a bag
I don’t know why this works, but I have my suspicions. I have a large plastic bag that I keep my cheese in. I leave cheese in the bag that it came in, and then put that bag in my big cheese bag. At any one time, might have a block of yellow cheddar, a block of white cheddar, a block of jack cheese, a wedge of Parmesan, maybe even a ball of mozzarella. All those cheeses live happily in that bag, and they don’t get moldy or dry out. The only cheese that lives in a bag by itself is the blue cheese, but that’s because it’s just not a good neighbor, it’s strong and powerful. When the cheese is all eaten up, I just leave the empty bag in the refrigerator. I suspect the reason why this works so well is that the bacteria from the old cheeses keeps the new cheeses from going bad. I never wash the bag as that would remove that helpful bacteria. If your bag starts to smell, or your cheese is runny, then get a new bag. Don’t put delicate cheeses in with powerful cheeses.
Put herbs in a glass
When you buy fresh herbs at the market, like Italian parsley, cilantro, and mint, you can keep it fresher by putting the stems in a glass of water, and keeping that in the refrigerator. Put green onions in a glass, too. They will also stay nice and fresh. If you’re lucky, your herbs may root in the glass, and then they can be taken outside and planted!
Freeze the lemons
If you are lucky enough to get a lot of lemons, and don’t know what to do with them, here’s a good way to keep them. Cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice. Put that juice into ice cube trays, freeze, and then put the lemon cubes in a bag in the freezer. One lemon cube is about the same as one fresh lemon. Don’t throw out those peels! Put them in another bag, and keep them in the freezer. You can occasionally toss one into the garbage disposal for a fresh smelling kitchen.
FIFO and Group
FIFO – First In, First Out [FeyFoh]. When you have left overs, put the oldest leftovers in the front of the shelf so that you will use it first. Group your leftovers together to make another meal.
Label, label, label, label, label, label, label
Day of the Week Labels at Amazon

Day of the Week Labels at Amazon

Put stickers on your containers of food, or on covered plates of food. The USDA recommends keeping left overs for only 3 to 4 days. If something it’s Monday, but you made it on Tuesday, it’s time to toss it! But, how are you going to know, or remember at a glance when you prepared something? With stickers! Even when using FIFO and grouping, you can still have problems. Restaurants use stickers on their food so they know how old it is. A small investment in stickers that will last you quite a long time is worth the money when you think about the cost of getting sick. The best thing about using stickers and keeping to the 4 day rule is you probably won’t have any nasty science experiments either.
Schedule
Check labels daily for food that has expired. If the label is 5 days old, but it doesn’t smell bad, and you know you can use it the next day, by all means, keep it, otherwise, don’t be tempted, toss it! Set aside one day a week to thoroughly clean out the refrigerator, take everything out and wipe it down. Food looks more appealing if it’s in a nice, sparkling clean refrigerator.
Egg Carton Craft Project

Organize Repurpose Reuse

Spring is here, so it’s time to start getting organized. I really like finding new jobs for old things. I figure if it’s not broken, use it so it won’t go into a landfill. I am continuously amazed at the things that I find that other people threw out, that I can use. My motto is “Organize Repurpose Reuse!”

Crates

Crate
Probably the biggest thing someone threw out is the giant wooden crate that sits bottom side up in my living room as a coffee table. I was walking around one day in an industrial part of the city when I found it just laying in the middle of the sidewalk. I called my friend, and he came and helped me get it home. I love it! It’s really sturdy. It’s all wood, all pine. I can stand on it, sit on it, use it as a table, and put store things under it.

Fun with CratesMy best friend, Amber, called me one day after I got the big crate and wanted to know if I wanted some smaller crates to go with it. I said sure, and she brought them by. Amber had already painted and decorated them. She did a wonderful job, and they got to live in my kitchen for organizing my small appliances. Then she called me and said she had still more, so they went into the bedroom. We got rid of the one broken dresser, and put the crates up against the wall. They are solid wood, and they’re not going anywhere. It would take a big earthquake to dislodge them.

Apartment Garden Drawer

Apartment Garden
Someone else gave me a dresser drawer. I don’t know why they gave me just the dresser drawer, but I definitely made use of it. I turned it into a gardening bed and have cabbage, onions, and herbs growing in it. It was so successful for planting that I am now actively looking for another abandoned dresser drawer for more plants.

Vines

Grape Vines
My neighbor had grape vines growing on his house. The entire roof was covered by them, and I imagine they got a little out of hand. So, one day, all this dried grape-vine was available. I brought in some of the nicest, tallest vines, and strung them together with wire. Then I went to Michael’s and bought two flower garlands and strung them on the grape-vine. It looks like a real plant in my house, I love it!

Plastic Bakery Boxes

Plastic Boxes
We live in an area where a lot of baked goods come in plastic boxes. I like those boxes because you can see through them, and you can close them up. They are small, and stack nicely. They’re great for storing small things, or keeping crafting supplies where you can see them.

Wash Cloth Holder

20140213004
Someone gave me a wash cloth holder as a house-warming present. I had plenty of room in the bathroom to hang wash cloths, but nowhere to really put jewelry. I have a lot of costume jewelry, and I think it’s a shame to put it into a jewelry box where it’s never seen and becomes forgotten. I like hanging my jewelry so it decorates not only me, but also the room. The wash cloth holder was perfect for holding costume jewelry. The higher part in the back is just high enough for necklaces, and the front part is just right to hang pierced earrings. Bracelets and rings live in little glass bowls on the dresser.

Bathroom Organization

BathroomBathroom organization always seems to be a challenge. Usually, there isn’t much storage, so you are left with thinking of creative ways of storing all the things that have their home in the bathroom. In an apartment, you usually have a medicine cabinet above the sink, and some kind of storage under the sink. Often, there isn’t room to put much else. An over the toilet rack system is popular, but occasionally there isn’t room for one of those either. Things seem to get lost in the bathroom, even when you find a place for them to live, they still get lost, especially small things.

Under the Sink

The area under the sink always seems to get disorganized and since it’s dark and low on the ground, you never seem to want to deal with it, so it gets worse. My neighbor gave me a large dish rack that sat around waiting for an assignment. I knew there was something that dish rack was good for, and I was right. The containers for the cutlery work perfectly for holding my blow drier and large hair brush. The rack part is perfect for holding all the other stuff, bottles, rollers, etc.
Under the Sink

Small Things Get Lost

Having trouble finding the tweezers, or the nail clipper? No problem. I love magnets. You can stick them to the door of the medicine cabinet and put tweezers, nail clippers, or other small metal things on them. Now your small metal objects are easy to find, easy to put away, and take up virtually no room.
Medicine Cabinet

For Your Health

You might have noticed some of the things we have in our medicine cabinet, and think some of that might belong in the kitchen. Well, I am a great believer in natural and holistic healing. We keep olive oil in the bathroom to use on our skin.

  • Olive oil has all kinds of benefits for your skin, and it’s non-toxic. Unlike some other lotions, if you eat some, that’s good for you, too.
  • Eucalyptus oil is a wonderful thing to have in your house. Not only does it have a wonderful, clean scent, it’s also good for colds and aches and pains. Bugs really don’t like it – so a few drops in cabinets, on window sills and door jams will keep small creatures outside where they’re supposed to be.
  • Vapor rub – Not Vicks! Look in your pharmacy for an all natural vapor rub that does not use petroleum jelly. The one we have uses sunflower oil that is not GMO.
  • Almond Extract – I don’t keep it in the bathroom because I use it for cooking more often. If you have an acid stomach, look no further than almond extract. Just a small drop on your tongue will neutralize the acid in your stomach, almost immediately. One bottle of almond extract will last you at least a few months, so it’s much less expensive than over-the-counter anti-acid drugs, and does a better, faster job.

Mommy Dollars Reward Good Behavior

Mom! I’m done sweeping the bedroom. What other chores can I do? I want to earn more chore points!
Spane Boswell, Age 10

Does that sound like something out of a science fiction movie, or a bad novel? Well, it’s what my 10 year old said to me just last night. Wouldn’t it be great if your kid said the same things? With Mommy Dollars, your child might.

Check = Good; Circle = Bed on Time; C = Chores Done, B = Backpack Check, Star = Bed Check

Check = Good; Circle = Bed on Time; C = Chores Done, B = Bed Inspection, Star = Backpack Check


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Just Say No to GMO Box Tops for Education

Say Hell No to Box Top$ for Education  GMO

Say “Hell No” to GMO Box Tops for Education

I don’t know about you, but it’s that time of year again. I got an email from my son’s school about a Box Tops for Education. I’m all for supporting my child’s school, but I’m not going to help grow these companies coffers at the expense of my, or any other, child’s expense.

Why Say No?

General Mills started Box Tops for Education in 1996. General Mills has contributed 525 million dollars to eduction. That’s about 29 million a year for 18 years. But, they also contributed $1,135,300.00 in November 2012 to help defeat California Prop 37 (Genetically Modified Food Labeling Initiative). In 2013, there were bills in 27 states to start labeling of GMO Foods. Of those 27, 6 were already defeated, 21 are still in process.

  • Colorado HB1192 was voted down
  • Maryland HB903 was withdrawn
  • Missouri HB246 was withdrawn and SB155 died
  • New Hampshire HB660 failed in 2014
  • New Mexico SB18 was voted down
  • Washington I-522 was defeated

Do the Math

If General Mills spent 1 million dollars in one state, California, they probably spent or are still spending 1 million for these other states as well. So, that’s about 27 million a year for those 27 states. There are 50 states in our Union, and I’m sure they are actively spending money in those states as well. There are 4 states, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont that passed bills requiring labeling of GMO foods. That’s 46 states where General Mills is probably spending money to stop labeling, and at 1 million a year, per state, that’s 46 million a year, 17 million more than is going out for education. In my humble opinion, that stinks! Of course, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

What to Avoid

  • Betty Crocker
  • Gold Medal Flour
  • Yoplait
  • Bisquick
  • Pillsbury
  • Land 0 Lakes
  • Ocean Spray
  • Green Giant
  • Totino’s
  • Mott’s

You will notice that most of the foods listed here are prepared packaged foods that The Good Plate does not use, and I try to give you safe, homemade alternatives. If you look on labels, read ingredients, you can usually tell if it’s something to keep out of your kitchen. My motto is: “If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t buy it!”

Plastics, Too?

In July of 2013, the city that I live in banned plastic shopping bags in all major supermarkets and retailers. In January, 2014, the smaller shops had to comply as well. Why? Because plastic shopping bags don’t decompose and we have an island of trash in the Pacific Ocean, mostly composed to plastic bags. Guess what? Plastic bags are not indigenous to the Pacific Ocean.

Hefty garbage bags are eligible for Box Top$, too. Do they degrade? No, they just add to the existing garbage patch. Some estimates say the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as large as the Continental United States. What can you do? Here’s what we’re doing in our house.

  • We’re using foil which can be wash and reused or recycled.
  • We’re using wax paper, which because it is paper, degrades
  • We’re reusing our plastic by washing it
  • We’re using paper bags from the supermarket for trash
  • We’re using glass for storage.
  • We’re using plastic food containers for food storage after thoroughly washing them.

Want to know more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Check National Geographic and WikiPedia for more information.

What’s Safe?

If your children are driving you crazy because they want you to buy Box Top$ products, there are two things that you can buy, Cascadian Farms Cereal and Horizon Organic.

Conclusion

I hope that I have given you some food for thought. Please shop responsibly.

Pantry Organizing

Ideas in this PostPantry Door

A little while ago, I posted about the wonderful Android app, Out of Milk, which is really helping me tame the beast that is my kitchen.

I am always looking for new, more efficient ways of organizing my kitchen, and whilst perusing Pinterest this morning, I found a picture of a hanging shoe rack with cleaning bottles in it. I immediately jumped up and hollered “Eureka!” I have one of those shoe thingies, and I have a pantry door, and I have duct tape.

Spane helped me hang it, and then I filled it with foil, wax paper, and other things that used to take up valuable room in drawer. Happiness as one of the monsters has been tamed.

I will be talking about other organizing methods in the future, so stay tuned!