Becoming an infrequent grocery shopper has had an interesting effect on the inside of my fridge. In the past, I stopped by the market on my way home from work a few times a week; I never bought more than four or five items at once, and had no problem storing and using them up in a timely fashion. Now, my biweekly Big Trip needs to sustain my household of two for at least ten days, so I end up lugging home as much as I can carry. It's a lot, more than my small kitchen has ever had to house at one time, and the result is a fridge so crowded I need a map to find the kale.
In my experience, a packed fridge becomes a disorganized fridge very quickly, which leads to food waste. If I don't have a good sense of everything I have on hand, hidden ingredients start going bad at the back of the shelf. To mitigate this problem, I've taken to filling my fridge with bowls and baskets, which keep similar items together and in plain sight. It's a wonder it took me so long to take to this organizational system, as I've long been a Potatoes Bowl and Onions-and-Garlic Bowl girl, just not inside the fridge. Compartmentalizing other produce and refrigerated items this way works wonders for my brain and my meal planning, and keeps me from any unnecessary food tossing. It's a habit I plan to keep up—even after frequent shopping trips are the norm again.
A favorite of Senior Food Editor Anna Stockwell, wire mesh bowls and baskets make it easy to see—and access—your most-used ingredients every time you open your fridge. "I like keeping all my refrigerated fruit, like apples and lemons and limes, in one, and eggs in the other. When I reach in, I can just grab what I need," she says. "No opening the box of eggs or pulling open a drawer for lemons. And they look cute!"
Repurposed mixing bowls
While any mixing bowl in your arsenal can become a fridge bowl if you keep it in the fridge (#magic), some are certainly better suited for the task than others. Look for tall—rather than wide—mixing bowls, which take up less lateral real estate on the fridge shelf but still provide a lot of vertical storage. Just be sure they're not so tall that you can't reach inside.
$40.00, Sur La Table
For people looking to take advantage of every available inch of space in their kitchens, these fridge baskets hang snuggly underneath your shelves—a feat of additional storage creation. Some pull out like drawers, while others open from the front. Both would make a good place to hold produce, small condiment containers, or drink cans.
Fruit bowl, reimagined
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the tall mixing bowl is the shallow, wide fruit bowl, which also can work very well as a fridge organizational tool. Designed to sit low on your countertop, a fruit bowl is the ideal storage solution for a pile of refrigerate-able produce; mine is currently holding a pyramid of lemons, limes, eggplant, bell peppers, and broccoli.
A love of bins was instilled in me at an early age, thanks in large part to my mother's knack for compartmentalizing any drawer or cabinet into neat sections. Clear plastic is the move for fridge storage, so you can easily see what you're working with.
$11.00, The Container Store
Originally Appeared on Epicurious