March 11, 2019
How to Organize the Refrigerator for Meal Prep + the Week Ahead
- Mix up 1 teaspoon of dish soap (or my favorite, Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Orange castile soap), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and about 4-6 cups of warm water.
- Wipe down the shelves with a well rung out bar mop towel or cleaning cloth. Repeat until all shelves and drawers have been wiped clean. Dry if necessary.
It has taken a bit but I finally feel like I have a good system for the refrigerator. Here are the rules that I follow for the most success week in and week out:
- group like items together
- meal prep + menu plan on Fridays (Catch-All Day)
- meal component prep (cut up veggies and cook/prep meal components in advance)
- have healthy high protein snacks ready
Here’s a labeled version to help you see where everything is at. See the descriptions below the image – left to right.
Baking goods, jam syrup – keeping the left side as sweet ingredients (like jam or maple syrup) with nuts and seeds has been really helpful for organization
Beverages – we drink bottled and sparkling water and I make kombucha every week
Prepped food – cut up veggies and fruit – this is a HUGE weekly timesaver
Butter – stick and/or spreadable (we use Kerrygold)
Quick protein snacks – we keep string cheese and yogurt in this bin so the kids can grab a quick snack
Eggs – fresh + hard-boiled (hard boiled in a bowl and fresh in the box)
Meat or meal prep – I keep uncooked meat in a half sheet baking pan to prevent leaks and to keep it contained.
Milk + juice – keep this on the same shelf for easy access
Condiments – limit and keep an eye on those condiments – Tessamae’s is our favorite dressing and it needs to be refrigerated and we can’t run out so there’s always one open and unopened jar.
Fruit + veggies – take them out of the bags and put them in the drawers
Cheese, deli, wraps – we keep wraps and lunch meat and cheese in here – pretty predictable
Here are a couple more tips for keeping the fridge clean, organized, and well-stocked:
You can see some meal components here a little closer – berries (we have these prepped and on hand all the time), cut up veggies – this week I have peppers and cucumbers, leftover burrito bowl meat for a lunch or two, zucchini noodles prepped, and hard boiled eggs. I store everything that I can in glass storage containers – it’s better for you and your family and they clean up so much better! I talk about this and other sustainable food storage options at length in my new book, Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home – grab a copy if you haven’t yet!
I know someone will ask about the kombucha – we love it and make it every single week. This is a cherry batch. So good for you – the kids drink it every day. I use the basic recipe from the Kitchn if you’re interested. I’ll link the bottles below too.
Limit your condiments to what you can store on the inside of the door so they aren’t spilling over into the rest of the refrigerator. Height matters. Store your taller bottles and containers in the back and shorter in the front.
I love to use this acrylic container to group like items together – these are our grab-n-go protein snacks. Going vertical with storage also maximizes your space and can double your options.
Think outside the box when it comes to your crisper drawers. Not all fruits and vegetables require the higher humidity in those drawers. Consider how you could use this space for easily accessible snacks or meal components for the kids or your family or for bottled or canned beverages. We fill these up with fruit and veggies, I keep them at low humidity and find that they stay fresh longer. I love the pictured French shopping bags for grabbing produce at the store and ditching those flimsy plastic bags that I can’t open anyway.