Inside the Kitchen Cure: Cleaning the Fridge and Freezer

Fall 2010 Kitchen Cure

I started on the Kitchen Cure this past weekend with a thorough clean-out of the fridge. (See the Week 1 Kitchen Cure assignment here.) This was not the most fun of tasks. No, decidedly not. Especially after I’d emptied the contents of the fridge and stood staring in disbelief at the amount of grit and gunk coating the bare shelves. But once I scrubbed and wiped, the ultimate sensation was extreme satisfaction.

THE FREEZER: 15 Minutes

I started with the freezer, subconsciously knowing this would be the easier task. I took everything out, wiped the shelves clean and re-arranged everything back inside. Done and done.

I try to keep zones in my freezer: ready-to-eat meals, quick meal components (like a cup of leftover pilaf or frozen pasta), fruits and vegetables, and meats. But this system gradually breaks down when one zone gets over-crowded or I’m in a rush. I’m afraid my before and after pictures probably look very similar, but this is actually much more organized than it was before!

Sacrificed - Two tubs not-very-good ice cream (as evidenced by the fact that they remained uneaten months later) and one bag of freezer-burned mystery meat.
Saved! - I found several bags of peas and nuts that for some reason were all open. I consolidated like substances and did away with a lot of clutter. I also discovered a pound of local sausage that had gotten completely lost in the back.
Kitchn Cure Ideas - Find some some plastic caddies to keep the foods separate and organized. I think this would help keep all my little plastic bags from migrating and also make sure nothing gets lost in the back.

THE FRIDGE: 45 Minutes

This was a bit of a beast. At first, I thought to go shelf by shelf, but I finally just decided to take everything out, clean, and then reorganize. And that’s what I did.

Glass cleaner worked best on my shelves, though I went back over the plastic molding with regular all-purpose cleaner. Getting the tiny pieces of who-knows-what out of the cracks and crevasses was annoying in the extreme, but I got it all in the end.

Maybe this is obvious, but remember that those shelves can come out. It might seem easier to clean them in the fridge, but I found it to be far less back-breaking to just take them out, wipe them over the sink, and put them back again. Sparkly!

Also, remember Sara Kate’s tip to wipe down the condiment bottles before putting them back in your pristine fridge. I was tired and almost skipped this step, but it really just takes a couple swipes with a warm rag and the sticky gunk is gone.

Sacrificed - Two sad spring onions, a container of mystery sauce, and a bottle of not-very-good salad dressing that I bought before I realized how easy it is to make your own.
Saved! - I found a lonely, but still good, lemon under a few bags of apricots. Cocktails tonight!
Kitchn Cure Ideas - I definitely need to wipe down all the shelves more often. With all the food in there, I think it’s easy to miss how grungy they’re becoming. I also want to try to keep a space specifically for leftovers on the top shelf on the theory that if my husband and I can see it, we’ll eat it. We do pretty well with big containers of leftovers, but often forget about that one last serving of soup. This would help.

That’s enough for one day. Tomorrow I’ll attack the pantry. And I have a feeling “attack” is exactly the attitude I'm going to need.

How is your Kitchen Cure going?

Related: How to Organize Your Fridge

(Image: Emma Christensen)