This post contains affiliate links. I may earn advertising/referral fees for any purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.
For more information check out my full disclosure policy.
American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. The cost estimate for the average family of four is $1,365 to $2,275 annually.
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council
Let’s work on conquering kitchen chaos and getting organized for the New Year. We’ll focus on four main areas: the pantry, fridge, freezer, and drawers. You can chose to do all four areas in one day, one each day, work on sections as time allows.
The pantry is often the most disorganized zone of our kitchen. You have the option of tackling this all at once, or setting a timer and working at it in 15 minute increments throughout the week. If you are easily overwhelmed, I suggest working in increments.
First, take a moment to truly look at your pantry and see if it’s working for you. Heavy, bulky items should be stored on the floor or bottom shelf. Items that you use most often should be stored within easy reach. Items rarely used should be stored high.
For example, my pantry consists of five shelves. The top shelf contains disposable baking dishes, holiday platters, and “extras”. When I buy in bulk, one goes on the appropriate shelf, the rest goes on the top shelf so I use one at a time. The second shelf has all my cereals, breakfast foods, and boxed mixes. The third shelf is for pastas, jarred sauces, bagged items like chips, and baby food. The fourth shelf holds all my baking ingredients. The fifth shelf is for paper products and extra baking supplies. The floor is for my rack of canned goods, large rice container, and sodas.
Once you have decided how your shelves will be arranged, start by completely emptying one shelf. Give it a good wipe down with a damp cloth. Check each item’s expiration date before returning to its proper place. It’s good to get into the practice of rotating your food, keeping the oldest at the front to be used first and newest toward the rear. If you do this each grocery day you’ll reduce the number of expired items in your pantry.
If you come across items that are still good but you know you will not be using before they expire, consider setting them aside and donating to your local food bank.
Repeat this process for each of your remaining shelves, and once again in 6 months.
Once a container has been opened, most food will begin to go stale. To help preserve the freshness of your food, place items into Tupperware® Modular Mates®. Their virtually airtight seals will help maximize the shelf life of your pantry items.
The fridge. We use it multiple times a day, but it’s the one I dread cleaning out the most. True story: I once found a jar of pickles that expired before my daughter was born…and she had just turned 5. In case you were also under the impression that pickles never expired, guess what, they do.
When it comes to organizing your fridge, take it one shelf at a time. You really want to minimize the amount of time you have the door open so the fridge stays at a safe temperature.
Empty one shelf and then remove the shelf from the fridge. Give it a good washing to remove any food that may have spilled onto it. Allow it to dry completely before returning it to the fridge. You can also, once it’s dry, use Glad Press ‘N Seal to line your shelf. You can remove it and place a new section on every other month to keep your shelves clean and then do a thorough cleaning every 6 – 12 months.
Before returning any food to the shelf, check the expiration dates. Most food banks don’t accept refrigerated/frozen food, so if you come across anything you won’t be using see if it can be given to friends or family.
Repeat for the remaining shelves, produce drawers, and door. The shelving on the door of your fridge is removable, however if you’d rather not remove them then wipe down the interiors with a damp towel.
Once you’ve cleaned the interior of your fridge, give the exterior a wipe down with a damp towel. If your fridge is stainless steel, use the appropriate cleaner. Check the vent on the bottom front, located under the doors and make sure it is free of lint and dust. You’ll be amazed at the dirt that accumulates there.
Did you know that the average family of four discards 24 pounds of fresh produce every month? Produce is a big part of everyone’s food bill. Get the most out of your grocery budget with FridgeSmart® Containers. They’re designed to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables remain fresher longer when allowed to “breathe.” That’s why FridgeSmart® Containers’ innovative vent system controls the amount of air in each container to extend the life of your produce.
Some foods are heavy breathers and some aren’t. Because different fruits and vegetables require different airflow to maintain freshness, each seal features an air-circulation system with venting holes and an EZ slider seal vent that opens and closes, creating three different ventilation settings. Produce loses up to 70% of its moisture after 12 days if improperly stored. FridgeSmart® Containers help extend this time frame significantly.
An easy-to-use reference chart on the front of each container features pictures of commonly used fruits and vegetables. It shows which vent tab setting to use, so your produce receives only as much air as it needs to stay fresh
When not in use, the containers nest together (Place Deep Containers into shallow Containers). The modular and stackable containers also help you make the most of your refrigerator space.
I find freezers to be the trickiest thing to clean. You have to work fast, and in sections, in order to keep the temperature from rising above safe levels.
I clean my freezer about the same as I clean my fridge. Remove all the food from one shelf. The freezer uses wire racks rather than solid shelving, so there’s really no place for spills to accumulate. Quickly, with a damp towel, wipe down the rack and the inside walls around it. Unless you’ve had a major disaster in your freezer, there’s usually not enough of a mess to justify taking the rack completely out to clean it.
Take a moment to check expiration dates before returning items to their shelves. When storing leftovers in the freezer it’s a good idea to write down the date it was frozen. I’ve heard some people say they use chalk markers and because they can wash it off later. I use a piece of masking tape and sharpie marker to label my containers.
When adding new food to your freezer be sure to rotate the things you purchase regularly, oldest to the front, newest to the back. This will help you keep on top of expiration dates.
Once the interior has been cleaned and sorted take a moment to wipe down the outside outside of the freezer. If your freezer is separate from your fridge, take a moment to carefully dust any visible vents.
If you’re looking to organize your frozen foods, consider Freezer Mates. A sturdy tab on one corner of the seal makes them easy to apply and remove from the base. Containers and seals are made of a flexible material (LDPE) that prevents cracking when frozen and makes it very easy to unmold the food when taking it out of the freezer. The inside walls of the bases have coating to substantially reduce staining from prolonged use. The curved foot and silhouette of the base, ensures an even temperature all around the Freezer Mates® PLUS containers for ideal conservation of your foods. The seals and bases were designed to ensure stackability; the all-around foot on the bases fits perfectly on the inside rim of the seals. You will be able to organize your freezer with assurance that all containers will stack in place.
Ready to organize your freezer with Tupperware® Freezer Mates PLUS® containers? They can be purchased here.
Most people feel like they don’t have enough drawer space in their kitchen, when usually the problem is that their drawers are overcrowded with things they rarely use. The first thing you’ll want to do is determine if each drawer is being used efficiently. Are the utensils you use to cook on the stove stored in a drawer next to the stove, or are they stored somewhere across the kitchen? I have had my kitchen set up for over ten years, and I still find myself shifting items to different drawers as my work flow in the kitchen changes over time.
Next, you’ll want to grab two boxes. Go through your drawers, intentionally thinking about each item. If you use it at least once a week, leave it in the drawer. If you only use it for holidays or other gatherings put it in box #1. If you use it once a year, you have multiples of the item, or can’t remember the last time you used it, put it in box #2. Mark the date on both boxes and place them somewhere accessible but out of the way. You can store them on your pantry floor if there’s room, a hall closet, or a garage shelf. As time passes, if you find that you need an item you got rid of, retrieve it. After a year you can donate anything left in box #2. This works great for thinning out items in your cupboards too.
As you’re working through your drawers take the time to wipe down the interior with a damp cloth. If your drawers have seen better days, you can spruce them up with a bit of shelf liner or contact paper prior to replacing their contents.
Once all your drawers have been decluttered and organized, wipe down all the drawer fronts and cupboard doors, paying close attention to areas around pulls and handles where dirt accumulates.
Ready to organize your drawers with Tupperware® utensils? They can be purchased here.
Congrats to you! You’ve just organized and cleaned the four major zones of your kitchen!