Extreme Makeover: Refrigerator Edition

img1The problem with twenty-first century life is that often times we’re victims of choice, particularly supermarket choice. Wander the aisles of your local Coles or Woolies and despite knowing they’re just the same old groceries being marketed as new products-Vita Wheat sandwich-size crispbreads, anyone?-we still find these items almost impossible to resist.

So, curious as to whether it’ll turn out that these are the sandwich-size crispbreads we’ve spent our entire lives searching for, we toss a packet in the trolley, anyway. And so it goes, aisle after aisle, until one day we open the fridge (or pantry) and bam! It’s like Chernobyl in there!

Though it’s a year-round affliction, there are probably two times throughout the year when your fridge will be at it’s most ungodly: after Christmas and Easter (coincidentally) when the leftover turkey dinner and hot cross buns crowd the shelves.

This Easter, then, it’s time for a makeover-it’ll make it easier to find food easier, and also rid you of that odd smell you always thought was something the cat dragged in.

The supermarket shop: people will tell you having an organised fridge is about fancy Tupperware, labelers and organised storage systems-it’s not! An organised fridge starts with the supermarket shop.

The average Australian wastes 200kg of food each year-an estimated $5 billion dollars of wasted food finds its way into landfill every year, because we’re grossly overbuying at the supermarket.

The fix: start living like a 1950s housewife-that goes for the gents, too. Housewives in the 50s championed the household budget; they didn’t buy more that what they needed mostly because they couldn’t afford to, but also because the 50s wasn’t the throwaway society we live in today.

When you run out of things, write it down-keep a whiteboard on the fridge, or a notepad and pen on the kitchen counter; whatever and wherever, just keep a list! It’ll prevent you from winding up with three jars of half-eaten jam in the fridge.

Plan your meals for the week; I know you’re thinking: “it’s not the 50s anymore and I have to work, I’m too busy,” but your meals don’t have to be exotic culinary delights-steak and veggies, fish and salad, chicken and roast veg, they’re all healthy, nutritious meals that are easy to prepare, too. Planning ahead results in less impulse buying and if you only buy in quantities to see you through the week, you’ll have less wastage as well.

If you do have leftovers, don’t leave them in the fridge to spoil, eat them for lunch or a snack the next day. The credo: waste not, want not underpinned 1950s life-meaning, if you never waste anything, you’ll never go without-embrace it!

The fridge: fridges, generally speaking, are too deep (pantries, too, but we’ll save that for another time!). With a full fridge anything stacked behind something else on a shelf, invariably, gets sucked into the black hole that is the back of the fridge, never to be seen again, but forever smelled.

The fix: now that you’re buying less, you can afford to spread your food liberally throughout your fridge. Use the egg holders and shelves on the fridge door-in a perfect world, refrigerators would be just one big fridge door-they’re easily stacked and allow easy access to food that never gets lost.

You can use the crisper by all means, but be careful of overfilling them: this is where many a forgotten broccoli has been reincarnated as The Blob-the kind that not even Steve McQueen could outsmart-in our household. Use the lower shelves for excess produce, as well.

Finally, don’t ignore the freezer. Stop stocking up on frozen meals like you’re preparing to go underground for the winter. And unless your family actually does dine on the 6,000 litres of soup you premade in advance, you can stop pre-making meals, too-they don’t get eaten and only take up space in your freezer, eventually finding their way into the garbage.

Only use the freezer for things that actually need to be frozen-frozen peas, for instance, and ice cream (if you must).

Enjoy your new 1950s kind of life and your organised fridge to boot!