Friday, March 2, 2012

What to do when your refrigerator is full

I did my grocery shopping for the month the other day, and now my refrigerator (and freezer) are jammed full.

Note: picture is not of my actual refrigerator.

In a way, this is good. Full appliances work better. A full refrigerator/freezer will cool much more effectively than a half-empty one. (Ditto with your washer/dryer and dishwasher; they're engineered to work at full capacity. If you're not running full loads, you're just wasting detergent/water/energy.)

But it's bad, because now I have to shift 47 things to get to the one thing in the back.

So what to do when it's that full?

Take some stuff out. Not everything has to be refrigerated.

These things can live outside your refrigerator:

Onions, garlic and potatoes
Winter squash
All fruits, even cut fruits (perishable ones like berries will only last a day or two outside the fridge, but you're not buying berries in March anyway, right?)
Ditto most vegetables (they'll last longer inside the fridge, but a day or two outside won't hurt anything--in fact, you shouldn't ever put tomatoes inside the fridge anyway, as it will stop the ripening process)
Carrots and other root vegetables, like turnips and parsnips
Lemons and limes (though they'll last longer inside)
Cheese (really)
Butter (really)
Most condiments, including ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, jellies and jams, syrup, and all that random stuff in the door
Beer/sodas (this time of year, you can keep them outside and they'll be the perfect temperature)
Water (I keep my Brita filter on the counter when I need the room, I can always add ice if I want cold water as opposed to room temperature water)

Most people will balk at the idea of keeping cheese and butter on the counter, and granted, you can only do this with real cheese and real butter--do not attempt with Kraft singles and margarine. But I keep my butter in a butter dish by the stove, and it will last at room temperature almost indefinitely. Ditto cheese. By virtue of what it is, cheese has already gone bad. A little more won't hurt it. And cheese actually tastes better at room temperature, than when it's cold.

That way, you can save precious fridge real estate for the stuff you actually do need to keep refrigerated--meat, eggs, milk and cream, broth, and leftovers.

A lot of the above can be frozen, instead of refrigerated: milk, cheese and butter can all be frozen for future use, as can broth and juice, and stuff like spaghetti sauce. Of course, if your freezer is full as well (like mine), then that's an excellent excuse to eat all the ice cream. To make room.

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