Zen and the Art of Refrigerator Organization: 5 Steps to Chilly Transcendence
There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who eat to live and those who live to eat. The difference between us is the inspiration to enhance life through the divine creation and shared enjoyment of phenomenal food.
Open your fridge. What do you see?
The Uninspired Wretch
This person sees a can of beer, a jar of peanut butter, a dusty shelf of ketchup packets and crusty salad dressings, a soggy tuna fish sandwich wrapped in plastic-wrap, a cold chicken leg, and a Chinese buffet take-out box of white rice. To the unimaginative dullard, the refrigerator is a chilly closet for perishable consumables – a solitary, stark pantry box, cold, isolated, cut off from the promise of better living.
The fridge is a shrine to possibility, where fresh ingredients come to life with style and culinary vibrancy. To the chef, the sacred refrigerator offers more than mere sustenance; it is a plentiful palette of color, flavor, texture, shape, and nuanced edible synergy. To the food enthusiast, the fridge is the apex of the kitchen, the heart of the home, the lifeblood and the heartbeat of an extraordinary meal savored, and another day well-lived.
Organizing the fridge leads to clarity.
As a professional organizer, I help people transform their chaos into clarity. As a lover of exceptional cuisine, I help households to re-think the role of their refrigerator – to see it not merely as a cold, large, rectangular appliance; but as a sanctuary for freshly picked organic produce, choice cheeses, the butcher’s finest cuts, and an exquisite assortment of homemade sauces, dressings, and vinaigrettes. With craft-chilled kombucha, sparkling lemon water, fresh-squeezed juices, and a snob-specific vino for every occasion – your modest icebox provides a unique opportunity
You can transcend your fridge (and a dreary, unpalatable life) in 5 simple steps:
1. Take Everything Out
Remove everything from your humble, hulking appliance. Sort items into four categories on your immaculate kitchen countertops (a topic for another article):
Compostables (deceased food stuffs, no longer suitable for human consumption, but ideal for your veggie garden).
Trash (wrappers and packaging that can neither be composted nor recycled).
Recyclables (in most communities – plastic, glass, aluminum, paper, and cardboard).
The save-worthy, pristine ingredients destined for your next thoughtfully fashioned culinary creation.
2. Clean, Clean, Clean
Thoroughly clean your fridge with a chemical-free disinfectant. Here’s a great recipe to make your own.
3. Decide What to Put Back In
Take a casual at-a-glance inventory of the ingredients you intend to put back in your fridge. Consider size, shape, the volume of each item – and group like items together. (Example: cheese, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, leftovers, condiments, beverages, etc.) You’re going to want to organize these items together in your fridge using my 4 Rules of Organization:
Like Things Together (as described above),
Easy to Find (with clearly marked labels and/or inside of labeled transparent containers),
Easy to Reach (for convenience based on urgency), and
Out of the Way (frequent and/or urgent items should be easiest to reach; items less so – less so).
4. Label Containers
Label glass or plastic storage bins (or recycled plastic spinach containers) with similar items grouped together. Use a dry-erase marker to label storage containers and leftovers. Organize containers on shelves for at-a-glance viewing and access based on the urgency of consumption. Use lazy-susans to rotate hard-to-reach items.
5. Put Labels On Shelves
Label the edge of your refrigerator shelves that correspond to your storage bins and containers. This will help others in the household to know where to find specific items, and where to return them. In this way, your fridge will stay clutter-free with easy-to-use convenience – to help ensure long-lasting, at-a-glance, intentionally-functional organization.
Diluted to its most practical purpose, food is fuel. It provides essential nutrients to literally power the body and brain. By that definition alone, what we eat represents an opportunity to enhance how (and why) we live.
If fresh, organic, well-cultivated, and lovingly harvested ingredients deliver significantly better nutrients (which they do); it stands to reason that crafting them into aesthetically soulful, sinfully delicious recipes improves the eating experience, as well as the benefits to both brain and body. Clear out, clean up, and get organized with your food – and taste the difference of a Zen fridge and better life.
Originally Published in Sivana Spirit.