My goal is to be able to cook healthy food at home daily. So I devised ways and planned my kitchen so it is optimized for fast cooking. I do online grocery shopping (Read: 15 online supermarkets in Malaysia) while waiting in queues, I make vegetable/chicken broth and freeze them (Read: Homemade Vegetable Broth), and I mince garlic and freeze them in cubes (Read: Frozen minced garlic cubes) amongst many other things.
One thing most often overlooked is a messy fridge overloaded with too much food (sometimes expired). In my quest to live a quality life (Read: How to live a quality life?), I have decided not to hoard food. So I slowly cleared my fridge by removing expired food and use up sauces that have been around for a long time. As I was raised in a huge household with endless food, I feel uneasy to see the reduced amount of edibles at home. But really, it is all I need!
Then, I started populating my fridge with healthy food I love (e.g berries, dark chocolates, chillies, fresh prawns) and placed them in containers. Coincidentally, Tupperware offered to help me with a fridge makeover using their new Fridge Fresh Set. So I said yes and came up with ways to organise my fridge further. Here’s what we did:
1. Proportion your food
Early this year, I made a resolution to be kinder to myself and appreciate quality over quantity. This year, I indulge in fresh berries a lot more than before. Yes, they cost a bomb in Malaysia – but I love them so I have decided not to deprive myself. Instead, I stop buying other snacks like chocolate chip cookies and other unnecessary things.
I separate the two berries I often buy – strawberries and blueberries – into one container. When I feel like eating them, I’ll soak them in my DIY Homemade Fruits & Veggie Wash for a while, rinse it and eat from the pretty container. It’s my guilty indulgence!
2. Colour code
Okay, this might sound like OCD but I really like to colour-code things. Even dresses in my wardrobe are organised according to colour (Read: 3 tips to find and choose your clothes easily). For example, in my fridge, I have decided to keep berries in pink containers and chopped fresh produce in green containers. Even when I don’t get to to label my food, I kind of know the type of food I have in those containers.
3. Label your food
In How Marie’s Kondo’s Minimalism Makes Me Happier, I mentioned that doing things at home is a mindless process when I reduced my possessions and keep them organised. When I open my fridge, I don’t think – “What’s in that orange container?”; it’s a waste of my brain power which I like to reserve for other intellectual pursuits like creating new hacks, reading and writing. I want to know at a glance what I really have in my fridge without having to open any containers to check.
This is something I advocate in my cookbook, Malaysian Meals In 30 Minutes and mentioned in the blog (Read: How to store and label Chinese Herbs). I have a box containing masking tape, markers and scissors which I normally put right on top of my fridge to make labelling a breeze. I label many things – my Chinese herbs, homemade MSG and now my berries!
4. Transfer depleting food into smaller containers
One thing good about using Tupperware and buying from the same brand is that even though they come in different sizes, they are stackable. So when certain food items I put in a large container runs low, I can transfer it into a smaller container so it wouldn’t take up as much space.
5. Keep juicing produce in one container
Last year, I interviewed Sara Ding who believes in the health benefits of juicing. Seeing the active and vibrant Sara on my Facebook page made me feel motivated to juice. Since then, I try to make cold-pressed juice a few times a week.
The thing is, I try to avoid going to the supermarket (it takes too much of my time!) so I need to keep my vegetables and fruits fresh for longer. That’s why I use VentSmart. This container is genius – it has a ‘vent/dial’ on the cover which regulates how much air gets into it. For root vegetables like carrots which need less air, I close the vent. For leafy vegetables, I open the vent so more air can enter.
Its your turn to organise your fridge!
The tips above fit my lifestyle but can be tweaked to fit yours. They key is to reduce unwanted food in your fridge and then keep those things that you need organised.
Be ruthless. Get rid of things (or eat them up)! That bottle of plum sauce with only a tablespoon or two left – perhaps it’s time to use it up and free up space for other things.
Then, try to place your food in containers and label them (this is really much better than wrapping them in plastic or newspapers!). I urge you declutter your fridge. Cooking will suddenly become a breeze, you’ll be happy instead of stressed when you open your fridge and you are likely to eat healthier. Good luck!