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Operation Clean House: Part 3 {Fridge Frenzy}

What you may not see as I post lately is that in the process of working on one project {the analyzing, purging, sorting and organizing}, each step leads to the beginnings of two or more other projects.  So, at any one time, I could have two or three different projects going on all at once.  I start with this because it gives you a little bit of background to this next project.

Often times, change needs to come slowly and rightfully so.  Too much change at once can be overwhelming.  For this lady, it needed to be as quick as the rip of a band aid.  Along with organizing the physical space of our home, we are trying to get our finances in control {in this economy, who isn't, right?}.  So with the new year, we have decided to begin a meal plan.

A meal plan will work well for us in many ways because:

  • We won't have to answer the dreaded question, "What are we going to eat?".
  • We will use up the groceries we have on hand, creating less waste.
  • I will save loads of time by knowing what to prepare for ahead of time.
  • I can plan a better variety and ensure our family eats the best possible meals throughout the week.

Having said that, today was my weekly grocery shopping trip.  It was a rather nice one because my son was spending the day at Grandma's house, leaving Mommy to shop in peace!  Sadly, that peace was short lived.  When I got the groceries home to my kitchen, it was anything but peaceful.  Mess like you wouldn't believe...let's refresh, shall we?
Leftovers everywhere and randomness ensued in our one and only fridge.  How could I put all my lovely meal-plan-groceries away in this chaos!?!  I wasn't.  I had to fix it right then and there.  Once and for all.  What comes next is all therapeutic from here.  I turned on some happy tunes and began the process of elimination.

Since I was at this all alone, I wasn't able to photograph each step in my process, but here's a breakdown:
  • Empty the door
    • Sort each item as it was taken out of the fridge, onto the counter, and into one of the following categories.  {Beware: these categories evolved themselves as I sorted, I did not create these categories beforehand}
      • Condiments
      • Sandwich condiments
      • Italian cooking
      • Salad dressing
      • Hot sauces and salsas
      • Other cooking sauces {soy sauce, oyster sauce, BBQ sauce, etc}
  • Empty shelves from top to bottom
    • Sort again as each item was taken out
      • Trash it all {container and contents}
      • Trash contents, save container {mostly glass jars and bad food in storage containers}
      • Dairy
      • Miscellaneous
  • Remove shelves and clean
    • As I did this, I discovered the most glorious root beer can explosion that went from the very ceiling of the inside to a sticky, syrupy pool below the drawers.  This only reminded me why we do not keep soda in our house.  Yuck! Glad you didn't have to see that...it was not pretty.
  • Remove drawers and hand wash
  • Towel dry and replace drawers
  • Replace shelves from the bottom up
  • Replace all food to be kept
    • This process was my favorite, because this is where the artist fills in his {or in this case, her} canvas!  I looked at all the different groups and categories I had made while sorting and decided where their new home would be.  After a little bit of re-adjusting the shelves to  meet our needs, and create the space for bottled water I had been only dreaming of prior, we come to the lovely after shots!!!
The view from afar

Now some side by side action {before and after}

What I love about this after shot is how I tried to be more efficient with the space we have.  I know the eating habits of our family and know that when we eat out, we almost always bring back leftovers {because most portions at restaurants are enormous}, so I made sure to give us lots of space up top to keep leftovers, but want to confine it only to that corner.  This will help us to be better about throwing out old food if we have it and not just placing it anywhere there is room in the fridge.  Another major shift I made was with the shelf height.  Our family eats bread and tortillas along with yogurt and eggs.  All of those things can be classified together {bread/grain and dairy}; and since they are all on the shorter side, I adjusted the shelf height accordingly.  This made room for the other dairies we have {sour cream and cream cheese} to fit right below our cheese drawer making almost the whole left side of the fridge diary related.  Another benefit of adjusting the shelf height was that I was able to put our drinks inside of the fridge where they belong instead of in the door.  Having the milk and juice in the fridge will ensure the optimum temperature of those drinks and since I decided to buy less milk {from a gallon to a half gallon}, it made room for our bottled water!

What better way to finish off an organization project than by fostering an easy to way to maintain it?  Now I could post this after picture on the fridge door, but that wouldn't be helpful because our needs may change week to week.  So in true organizing fashion, I fashioned some labels for each of our categories!  I have to tell you that labeling is bittersweet for me since I love to label, but am without a label maker! {sigh} So what does one do?  One uses the gift of handwriting and scotch tape!  This also works out well for me because I love looking for fun fonts...that all end up looking like handwriting!  Since I don't mind my own handwriting, I wrote away on my tape and labeled to my hearts content!
Up close, the tape looks a little a bit messy, but that's because I folded the ends to make it easier to remove as needed.  From a normal view from above, it's hardly noticeable.  But notice this; I labeled the order in which the drinks were placed from front to back!  Guess work, good-bye!!!

Now for the door
Ah, look how much neater it is! And with the milk and juice out of there, the door is much lighter too!  The labels for the door shelves were done a bit differently as you can see.  Because we don't always look at the door in its entirety like the picture depicts, I didn't think it made sense to label the shelves on the front.  Instead, I labeled the shelves from a bird's eye view to make it more discreet and user friendly.  

The updated contents of my door consists of {from top to bottom and left to right}
  • Butter
  • Hot sauces and condiments {our family uses ranch more for dipping than for salad}
  • Italian cooking in its tiny nook
  • Sandwich making condiments
  • Salad dressing and other cooking sauces

What a day!  This really took a big chunk of time, but the pay off is sooo worth it!  Let's take one last look at the fabulousness that is the fridge!

Can you hear the choir singing HAAALELUJAH! Hallelujah!  My heart and my groceries are now at peace with me and my kitchen.  One kitchen pet peeve down!  Yessss! {Insert fist pump here}

What is your kitchen pet peeve?  Did this post inspire you to rethink your fridge space?  Maybe even another space in your house?  I'd love to hear your plans!

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