Organize Your Refrigerator

When you think about it, one of the most often used areas in the kitchen is the refrigerator.  So, it makes sense to organize this space just like you would your pantry and cupboards.  You can even go further than that; think about your refrigerator like your clothes closet and use the same organizing techniques you would for scarves, jewelry, gloves, or other small items.  Let's take a look at the basic arrangement and then move into some clever ways to best utilize the space you have.

The Best Basic Arrangement
Start by grouping similar things together, such as lunch items, snack items, fruits, vegetables, dinner items, leftovers, and condiments.  If your refrigerator has adjustable shelving, use this to your advantage and organize your refrigerator to your individual needs.  If you end up with one tall section and only a couple items in it, use stacking bins to take up the rest of the room so the full height and width of the shelf is utilized.

The lowest drawer is typically the coldest part of the refrigerator, making it perfect for storing raw meat.  The drawer will catch any possible drips so cleanup is easy.  Line the bottom of the drawer with paper towels so any leakage can be easily cleaned up and disposed.
Take full advantage of the shelves in the door.  If you're storing a lot of tiny short bottles in big tall spaces, take a look around for alternatives.  In the next section I'll be sharing some ideas for better places to store those little items inside the refrigerator.  But, don't be afraid.  You won't lose any more of those little items in the dark recesses of the back of the refrigerator.

After you get a basic arrangement worked out, it's time to get creative.  These are storage tips that can help you gain room in your refrigerator and keep it organized for the best use.  Let's take a look.

Roll Out Caddy
Donít let those little things get pushed back and become lost in your refrigerator again. The roll out caddy makes it easy to see what you have and makes everything easier to reach.  There are units made specifically for refrigerators, or you can find inexpensive caddies for cabinets that will work just as well.

See Through Plastic Bins
Rather than unloading everything out onto the kitchen floor to find that packet of taco sauce or piece of cheese, keep small items together in clear 'see-thru' bins. This saves time and aggravation because you can see at a glance just what you have.  Even if you must pull the bin out of the refrigerator to take a look, you won't have to dump everything out to find something.

Built In Egg Holder
Most refrigerators come with some sort of built in egg holder, whether a permanent part of the door or a tray that fits in the door shelf.  Go ahead and put the eggs you bought in this holder.  This saves space and helps prevent broken eggs that occur when that carton gets pushed around or something gets set on top of it.  Now that odd place you've been keeping the eggs can be used for a different item.

Lazy Susan
Now that you've pulled all those tiny items out of the door shelves, you need somewhere to put them.  Think about how nice that little turntable thing is in your cupboard with all your spices on it.  Do the exact same thing in your refrigerator.  Put a 'Lazy Susan' in the back section of a space in the refrigerator and set the ketchup, mustard, pickles, and other condiments on it.  Now with one spin you can see everything without digging around.  And, you also have freed up that door space for taller, bulkier items like juice cartons and drink bottles.

Leftovers Storage Area
Designate one shelf just for leftovers and save yourself the frustration of throwing out all your hard work and delicious food.  Use clear bins and you'll easily see everything you have to eat.  This one trick is worth all the other tricks combined when you think about all the times those chicken wings got pushed to the back and forgotten.  Or when you discovered your lovely meatloaf turned green and fuzzy.  Another option is to find food storage containers that fit in a door shelf and designate that as an area to keep leftovers. Whatever works best for you, just as long as you keep them handy and visible.

Organizing your refrigerator will take some time at first.  But, once it's set up, you'll just need to pay it some attention.  Be sure to pull out your leftover bin a couple times a week and review the food you have in there.  Train the family to put the food back in the right places.  It’s much easier to stay on top of it than to let it go and have to redo the whole thing.

Simple Tips to Get More Veggies into Your Family’s Diet

 Most Americans don’t get enough veggies in their diet. It’s not difficult. However, busy lives and unhealthy habits can make it tough. Not to mention the fact that many people just don’t like vegetables. Or at least they don’t think they do. Here are some simple tips to get more vegetables in your family’s diet.

#1 Make them available between meals. Many moms have found that simply creating a veggie and dip tray and setting it out results in a delightful surprise. Kids swarm the table. They gobble up the vegetables and mom is happy. What causes this phenomenon when kids won’t eat vegetables at meal time? There are two theories:

You can really amplify the nutritional value and offer a flavorful pureed vegetable or bean dip as a dip. Good old-fashioned ranch dressing is an option too.

Here are two dips to try:


Honey Mustard dip
Honey Mustard Dip            
Sesame Miso Sweet Potato Dip
   Sesame Miso Sweet Potato  Dip

The second theory is that if mom and dad aren’t forcing the kids to eat the vegetables, as they might at mealtime, then the veggies are more appealing. If it’s offered as a snack without any expectations then kids dive right in.

 #2 Remember that it takes time to like a food. Experts tell us that it takes three to seven tastes for a person to decide if they like a food. That means you have to serve Brussels sprouts to your kids seven times and let them taste the veggies before they decide. Often a no-pressure attitude works best. Simply ask your kid to try the new veggie. They don’t have to eat a full serving. When kids are allowed to develop their own taste, they’re more likely to like a vegetable than if they’re forced to eat them.


Marinated Grilled Vegetables

#3 Make it tasty. Let’s face it - some vegetables don’t taste very good. However, there are things you can do to make them tasty. For example, you may not like green beans steamed, but if they’re sautéed with a few almonds they taste amazing. When it comes to eating vegetables, don’t be afraid to doctor them a bit. Use spices, marinades and herbs. Use a bit of healthy fat like olive oil to add flavor. Add nuts. Add cheese sauces sometimes too. And offer dips and dressings when the vegetables are raw or in salad form.


Vegetable Tacos

Getting your family to eat more veggies may take some advanced planning. Make sure they’re offered several times a day and in several forms. Give your child, and yourself, time to decide if you like a vegetable. Go ahead and be sneaky with the veggies sometimes too. When it comes to your family’s health, vegetables matter.