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9 Tips for a Healthy, Practical Fridge Makeover

I like the idea of setting up your life so that you fall into good habits. Things like always having gym clothes in your car or a Cliff bar in your purse. We are a product of our environment. We tend to choose things that are convenient and easy.

A couple of days ago, I just got fed up with my fridge setup. Nothing made sense practically, and my setup did not promote health (Alcohol on the top shelf anyone?) I couldn’t see everything, and not everything was fitting. I had a huge dutch oven taking up massive amounts of real estate, and a top shelf full of leftover alcohol from a party we had months ago.

It was time for a much needed fridge makeover.

What does a fridge have to do with beauty or fashion?

I think beauty begins in the fridge, and our setup can help us choose health and beauty promoting foods.

My fridge was NOT promoting that. I’m so ashamed!

Here’s my BEFORE:

AFTER:

Now for the details. How can you make your fridge healthier and more practical?

1. Have a place for everything, and everything in its place.

That was my grandmother’s favorite homemaking advice. I’d like to add, “Have a practical place for everything, and everything in its place.” Before my fridge makeover, the whole middle area had no rhyme or reason. I’d find leftovers (spoiled of course) on the bottom back corner begging for attention. Now I’ve decided the bottom shelf is no place for leftovers. After snacking produce, they are the most important things that need to be consumed, so they now have a permanent home on the second shelf.

Dairy also doesn’t have the longest shelf life, so dairy takes up space on the second shelf as well. Beverages tend to have a longer shelf life, and they are quite large and hard to miss, so they now stay on the bottom shelf. I’ve placed the water carafe in the middle for easiest access, since it’s the most important beverage!

2. Produce that can be eaten as a snack should be at the very top.

When my husband comes home from work and wants to raid the fridge for a snack before dinner, I want the healthiest options to be on the very top. The healthiest food should get the penthouse:) That way it’s what you see right away. Location, location, location. I think healthy food should take up prime real estate, which makes sense that ready-to-eat (can be eaten raw) produce goes on the very top. It doesn’t make sense to me that produce is always tucked away inside a bottom drawer!

3. Make it convenient to eat fruit by storing already washed, already portioned and already chopped up produce.

If my husband raids the fridge for healthy produce sitting on the top shelf, it’s not going to do any good if the celery isn’t already chopped. After a long day at work, the last thing he’s going to want to do is chop up a cantaloupe. He might dig into some berries, but will never first wash and rinse them. Plus, he’ll eat all the berries.

I found a solution to all this. I want to make it easy and convenient to choose healthy food.

Now, I plan on always washing my berries before I store them in the fridge, and also cutting up the cantaloupe before storing it. I also portioned them out into smaller containers (good for sharing with another person) so they don’t disappear in one sitting.

For a healthy salty snack, I have baby carrots (super small baby carrots are the sweetest!) and washed/chopped celery on the top shelf for easy access.

4. Have a long tray on top to store leftover vegetables.

I got mine from Target.

Right now mine has half of a red onion, half of a white onion, some lettuce, half of a tomato and a lemon I saved so I can grate the zest later. This is a practical setup for me because I can just pull out this tray every time I want to prepare a meal and know exactly what needs to be used up first. Before I had these items mixed in my bottom drawer, which wasn’t very convenient as they would usually disappear under a head of broccoli.

Keeping leftover vegetables separate from unopened, uncut vegetables and placing them on the top shelf has made things a lot more convenient.

5. To extend the shelf life of green leaf lettuce, place the bottom in a container of water and cover the top with plastic.

I learned this super practical trick from my friend Christina. It truly does last way longer. It’s like a water plant in my fridge.

6. Keep alcohol at the bottom behind meat. Keep raw meat below cooked meat.

In our house, we only really drink alcohol on the weekends or when a guest shows up, so it really doesn’t make sense to have alcohol on the top shelf, taking up prime real estate. So, I tucked it behind the meat on the bottom shelf.

With all my protein sources visible, I can take a quick glance at this area of my fridge and figure out what I want to make for a meal. This makes the fridge set up more practical.

7. Keep a water carafe in the fridge

I’m a huge water drinker. This usually means I have a glass that I reuse all day long. It’s like the guest that never leaves, sitting in the dish rack all day while all the other dishes get dried and put away like proper dishes should:)

I also have this unsightly plastic jug of water:

I have found the perfect beautiful solution to this dilemma. A water carafe/glass cup twofer! The lid is the glass cup. How cool is that?

You can buy it from Crate and Barrel.

8. The most practical setup for your fridge makes every item visible.

One of my biggest goals when doing this fridge makeover was to make sure that I could see everything in my fridge. Now when I open up my bottom drawers, I don’t have to move things around to see what I have available to use. Every item is clearly visible.

Notice how in my vegetable drawer, nothing is stacked on top of another item to the point where you can’t see what’s below. You can clearly see all I have: green beans, brussel sprouts, salad lettuce, green onions, sliced carrots and whole mushrooms:

(Note: This produce doesn’t have to take up space on the top shelf because these vegetables don’t usually get eaten as a snack. Another practical change.)

Same principle applies to the bread drawer. You can clearly see every item: hamburger buns, bagels, English muffins, tortellini, tortillas and raisin bread.

(Note: I keep my bread in the fridge as I’ve noticed bread has a longer shelf life when refrigerated.)

My dairy drawer also has all items visible:

9. Move shelves around to limit stacking.

Stacking food (when not in the front) usually means an item loses visibility. That’s why I moved the middle sections of my fridge to create spaces that don’t allow stacking.

And the right side:

There you have it! I must say, it is much more enjoyable to prepare my meals now that my fridge has gotten a healthy, practical makeover, and I can fit everything, see everything, and know exactly where everything is.

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