As you know, I’m continuing my cleaning, organizing, and purging (C.O.P.) journey in my home this year, and I decided that the refrigerator and freezer couldn’t wait any longer. So yesterday morning, I started unloading everything from the fridge and gave the whole thing a thorough cleaning before deciding exactly how I wanted things to be arranged.
I’ve mentioned before that once I have established systems of organization in place, I’m good to go. I can generally stick with those systems and keep things where they’re supposed to be. But until I make a concerted effort to think through organization and put those systems into place, I’m a mess. Without specific and simple systems in place, I always resort to the “open and shove” method of storage. And my poor refrigerator and freezer have been victims of this method for far too long now.
Now that I have some pretty “after” pictures to show you, I can go ahead and show you the horrifying and dreadful “before” pictures to show you just how bad things had gotten.
Prepare yourself. It’s pretty scary. Here’s how bad my refrigerator had gotten. This is where the “open and shove” storage method leads…
That’s bad. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, here’s the freezer…
Yep. That’s definitely worse.
The freezer was not only a victim of my “open and shove” method of storage, but it had also suffered from my “I give up” attitude with the ice maker. I got so frustrated with this thing about two weeks ago that I completely removed the ice storage container, which meant that all day, every day, that ice maker was just dumping ice directly onto the top shelf.
I’ve hated this ice container since the day I got this refrigerator. I think this is one of the most poorly designed products I’ve ever had.
I guess you’re supposed to reach into that narrow section in the front to retrieve the ice, but there’s barely enough room for my hand, much less room enough for my fingers trying to grab a few pieces of ice. So the most I could ever get was one piece at a time from this from section.
Here’s my hand so you can get an idea of just how ridiculously narrow that section is. And just imagine my fingers trying to wrap around a few pieces of ice in that narrow section. It’s such a ridiculous design.
So when I needed ice, I would pull the ice container forward and retrieve it from the large back section. The problem is that if I failed to push the container ALLLL the way back in so that it was touching the back wall of the freezer, the ice maker would start dumping ice BEHIND the container. Then it would melt a little, freeze together as a big chunk of ice, and prevent me from pushing the container in further. After a few times of that happening, the ice container was so far forward that all of the ice was being dumped behind the container, rendering the container completely useless.
So about two weeks ago, I gave up, removed the ice container completely, and just completely surrendered to defeat from the ice maker. And this was the result.
The rest of that mess? Well, that’s the result of “open and shove.”
And the refrigerator door shelves are obviously where things go to be completely forgotten.
I really thought that I had done better at keeping condiments and sauces updated, but evidently not. I found three spicy mustards, and all of them were way outdated. This was the oldest, with a “best by” date of October 2018. 😀
Another one with a “best by” date of January 2019…
And another one “best by” December 2018.
I think the lesson here is that I should stop buying spicy mustard, because clearly we don’t actually use it.
And why do I find bottles of sauce that have about a tablespoon left in a huge bottle? Is this really worth saving?
My freezer also has this little area on the door, which has always seemed pretty useless to me, and yet it has collected random items as well.
Ugh. Such a mess. “Open and shove” never ends well.
So I unloaded, and unloaded, and unloaded, and then I wiped down every square inch of the interior of the refrigerator and freezer. And then I started thinking through where things really ought to go, and how I’d like to see things arranged when I open these doors.
And y’all, I even got out my label maker. 😀 When I say that I need systems in place, that’s what I mean. I need to open the door and see labels inside my refrigerator.
And now, everything has a very specific (and labeled) place where it belongs.
That way, when I’m tempted to find some random open space on a random shelf for the sour cream, I can be reminded by the labels that the sour cream actually has a place on the “Dairy” shelf. And instead of shoving my jar of pickles onto a random shelf, I can be reminded by the “Pickled Snacks” label that my pickles have a home right there in the door. I only eat four things that go in that section — pickles, olives, banana peppers, and tamed jalapenos. And there’s room enough there for four jars. So now, I can easily see that if that section is full, then I don’t need to purchase a new jar of tamed jalapenos on my next four trips to the grocery store, and have them all wind up shoved to the back of the refrigerator, never to be seen again. 😀
Not every area got a label, but I did label my drawers. One of them is now for vegetables…
And while I know that onions don’t need to be refrigerated, I like to have all of my veggies in the same place.
And my other drawer is now for cheese.
Is there anything more amazing than a drawer full of cheese? No. The answer to that question is always no. A drawer for cheese and filled with cheese is glorious thing.
The only other containers I labeled on the refrigerator shelves were the two used for Cooper’s food and treats. We don’t feed him dog food. He gets human food, and ground beef is a big part of his diet. He also gets beef hot dogs as a treat. So I now have a container labeled “Cooper Food” for his ground beef, and “Cooper Snacks” for his hot dogs. I really should have used my white labels in my label maker for these, but this is fine for now.
(To be clear, that’s not all that Cooper eats. 😀 )
So now, my refrigerator shelves look like this…
I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to open up my refrigerator door and see this! It’s amazing what peace of mind organization can bring. I used to dread opening up my refrigerator door and having to search for what I needed. Now I know exactly where everything is. And what’s even better is that I can see when I’m running low on something. I can see clearly now when I’m running low on veggies or olives. No more buying a new jar of olives each time I’m at the grocery store because I can’t remember, and then finding five jars of olives shoved to the back of the fridge.
I took a picture with the light off so things are a little easier to see. I do my grocery shopping on Monday, and I try to buy for one week, although we always have left over bacon, sausage, and cheese. But the eggs, Cooper’s food and treats, ground beef, salsa, and veggies are a weekly buy. I buy eggs once a week from my sister, who lives out in the country and has a ton of chickens. We love fresh eggs from her free-range chickens, and we all eat them. Matt and Cooper eat eggs every single day. I eat them about three times a week. And I give Felicity an egg yolk every now and then as a treat.
So now on the shelves, I have (top row) a container for bacon (yes, bacon gets its own container, because…BACON), and then eggs on the right.
On the second shelf are our breakfast sausage links, my salsa (I really go through the salsa 😀 ), Cooper’s snacks, and Cooper’s food.
On the lower shelf is our ground beef (we really go through the ground beef), and Matt’s Zevias. And then, as I already mentioned, the left drawer holds veggies, and the right drawer is the glorious cheese drawer.
We eat very simply around here, so now all of our weekly staples have a place. No more “open and shove”, and no more searching for an open spot, or having to shift things around to clear a spot. And also, no more having things get shoved to the back where they’ll be forgotten. And there’s still an open space right at the top with plenty of room just in case I make something like a roast or brisket and need space for leftovers.
And now here’s a look at the freezer. First, the little previously useless area in the door now has a very high calling and purpose. It holds my Lily’s chocolate. 😀 I mean, other than a bacon container and a cheese drawer, I can think of no higher purpose than holding chocolate.
And check out this beautiful sight. Even Cooper was impressed.
I bought two large containers (wider and deeper than the previous ice container) on Amazon (this is what I bought) that I can easily reach into to grab ice. And I bought two just in case there’s any spill over or the first one fills up, the second one is there. That left just enough space for the ice cream. And the bottom area is filled with only the things I actually use from this freezer — frozen veggies, shrimp, and a container for my Breyer’s Carb Smart ice cream bars. Everything else (i.e., frozen meats) get stored in the pantry freezer.
(Random note: I don’t know why my floor looks so worn in that area by the freezer. It really needs some attention soon before it gets damaged. I don’t have any other places on my floor that look like that, so it’s a mystery why that’s happening right there.)
So here’s a quick recap of the before and after of my refrigerator and freezer after cleaning, organizing, and purging the whole thing…
That was a huge C.O.P. project to tackle. Or rather, it was one of those projects that seemed huge in my mind, and yet once I got started, it was actually pretty easy and enjoyable. How many times do I put off projects because they seem huge and daunting in my head, while they really aren’t that big of a deal? I’m afraid that happens more times than it ought to happen. And the more that thing looms over me, the bigger it seems, and the worse I feel about myself for not getting it done. It’s a cycle that I’d love to break, and I feel like getting projects like this done, and getting systems into place, will help me break that cycle.
It feels so good to finally have it done, and to have a system in place now! I feel like it’s a very manageable system that I can stick to from here on out.
UPDATE: The label maker I have and love is the Brother P-Touch model PT-D400. You can click here to find it on Amazon. I love it because it has several fonts, they make different tapes for it (you can get clear, white, designs, etc.), and it can print multi-line labels. I use batteries in mine so I can carry it all over the house without worrying about where to plug it in, but it also comes with an A/C adapter. I highly recommend it!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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