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

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!