image via organizational mecca The Container Store.

Freshen Up Fridays: Refrigerators and Pantries

Nothing's more romantic than a clean fridge.

With the changing of seasons, the inevitable spring-cleaning bug tends to bite — sometimes hard. Here to help you organize those spaces in your home that need a little freshening up, Audrey Swanson is picking the minds of local professionals to share their tricks of the trade on home organization.

Last week we tackled kitchen cabinets and counters, but today we’re trudging further into the dark depths of potential kitchen clutter. You know it already: we’re delving into those jam-packed refrigerators and pantries. (Get it? Jam-packed?)

I share my home (read: teeny apartment) with three of my closest girlfriends. As busy, 20-something-year-old students, our food habits are as vast as our personalities are, which results in a wide variety of groceries. To diminish the disarray, I got in touch with Katie Whitten, metroplex-based professional organizer and owner of the eco-friendly An Organized Life.

Her clients’ biggest challenge with pantries is not being able to see everything, thus continuing to purchase the same things again and again, she says. With refrigerators, she often encounters clients buying a bunch of ingredients to cook a delish dish, but not getting around to actually making it. I, for one, find myself a victim to both of these issues, so Whitten schooled me on ways to keep food and beverage from overbearing these stocked-up spaces. Read on to hear a few of her client-approved ideas.

1. Keep similar items together. Your pantry should be separated into canned foods, baking ingredients, spices and seasonings, breakfast foods, kids snacks, sweet treats, and so on. And your fridge should be maintained similarly. Unpack boxed items, like breakfast bars, to always be aware of what you have left. Storage containers, baskets, and bins come in handy to assemble the separate categories.

2. Shop your pantry and fridge first. Maybe you didn’t realize initially, but you could have all the ingredients to make some banana bread or that lasagna you’ve been craving. No need to let things go unused or to waste!

3. Eliminate the old. This is especially easy as you’re putting away new groceries. Whitten encourages keeping things looking nice by wiping spills and stains as you throw out the rotten — keeping clean will make you want to cook more!

4. Plan ahead. Look at your week’s schedule. Are you going out to eat a couple times? Then perhaps less dinner items are necessary. Overstocking refrigerators and pantries can be easy if you go to the store without a plan. They say never go grocery shopping hungry, but going without preparation is just as sinful. Make a list of meals to make and things you are certain you’ll need throughout the week.

5. Watch what you use. If you notice a can of kidney beans collecting cobwebs, toss it in a bag with other neglected items and take them to a local food bank or shelter. Cleaning out the old doesn’t have to translate to wastefulness!

Audrey Swanson is a D Home and D Weddings intern.

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