Low On Fridge Space? Here Are 6 Key Tips For Efficient Storage

Refrigeration as a way of extending the shelf life of food and preserving its freshness has existed for a long time. With the advancement in food science and technology, we find ourselves with the most unique configurations that allow us to compartmentalise our food in a way that is convenient to us, serves the purpose of keeping our edibles fit for consumption and also retaining some of its nutritional value. Given how most Indian households have refrigerators bursting at the seams – not because of over-stocking but mainly because of a lack of organisation, refer to these key tips to categorically arrange your leftover sabzis, open packets of lentils, theplas and more.

Maintaining Right Temperature

Keep your refrigerator’s temperature at or below 4°C to slow down bacterial growth and food spoilage. Use a dial thermometer specifically made for refrigerators to adjust the temperatures at the right position and help your food power through any unseen electrical setbacks, power surges or clogged ventilation.

Proper Organization

Proper organization of containers, produce and packets of food makes it easier to find items as well as prevents food from getting lost or forgotten. Store foods in designated zones based on their ideal temperature and humidity requirements – for example, use the top shelf to stick ready-to-eat foods like leftovers and dairy. Utilise the middle shelves for dairy products, beverages, and cooked meats and the bottom shelf for raw meats and seafood in sealed containers to prevent cross-contamination. Additionally, the crisper drawers can hold fruits and vegetables, with adjusted humidity settings and the door shelves to stash away condiments and items with preservatives.

Use Airtight Containers

Transfer leftovers and open food packages into airtight containers or resealable bags as this helps maintain food freshness, prevents odours from spreading and reduces the risk of spills or cross-contamination. To ensure that your food does not lose moisture while being refrigerated or you forget about what you have in store, have see-through containers with resealable lids or silicone covers for storage.

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Label Items

Label containers with the date of when you stored the food. This practice not only helps you keep track of freshness but also ensures you use items before they spoil. A ‘first in, first out’ (FIFO) approach can help you prioritize using older items first. Use sticky notes or masking tapes that can come off of the containers easily and be readied for use the next time around.

Avoid Overcrowding

Leave some space between items in the fridge to allow for proper air circulation. Overcrowding can cause uneven cooling and make it harder for your refrigerator to maintain a consistent temperature. Besides, it can also become tedious to have to extract a few containers or items in storage in order to have access to something that is sitting at the back of your shelf. Hence, it is better to take into consideration the size of your refrigerator and have containers or buy groceries that can be accommodated without having to compromise on the space.

Check and Rotate Regularly

To periodically check the contents of your fridge and discard any expired or spoiled items, and have your groceries in rotation, allows you to remember that older food must be used first. This reduces food waste and helps maintain a clean and organized refrigerator. Rotating items around the fridge once every few days also helps with making sure that all the items that must remain refrigerated receive even cooling throughout their shelf life.

Additionally, consider the following extra tips for specific food items:

  • For Leftovers: Divide large portions into smaller containers for faster cooling and more efficient use of space.
  • For Dairy: Keep dairy products, like milk and cheese, in their original packaging or tightly sealed containers to maintain freshness.
  • For Fruits & Vegetables: Store fruits and vegetables separately and use the drawers or pull-out trays. Some fruits release ethylene gas, which can affect nearby vegetables, so it's best to keep them apart.