Saturday, August 4, 2012

Frugal Challenge - Clean and Organize the Refrigerator and Gain a Meal

I have one more week before school starts around here and I am trying to get the kitchen organized with some frugal tips to save money. This is the place we leave from and come home to for a meal, in shape for what is going to be one of the most hectic years I have had in a long time.
Last week, while several of the kids were away from the house, I spent a day cleaning and organizing the refrigerator. Yes, even the fridge can work better for our busy school year ahead.

Here are some things I do to keep our very small fridge in some kind of order and frugal eating tips.

Use one of your small drawers for your yogurt and pudding cups. They were always falling all over the shelves and being shoved to the back so I decided to put them all in a drawer. Now when someone wants one they are all here in one place.

Line your door shelves and drawers with paper towels. That way sticky bottoms of bottles and jars go on the towel and not the shelf and keeps things cleaner longer.

Organize like items on each shelf. Now getting my kids to keep up with this is always a challenge but why would you not put all the mustards together? Why does this not make sense to the kids?

I love baskets and use them even in the freezer. A small basket on the door holds small packages of partially used nuts and chocolate. This keeps them from landing under something bigger and me not knowing I already have pine nuts in the freezer.

Use a bigger basket on the shelf of the freezer to hold all those odd little partial packages of meats. In here was a half pack of hotdogs, two fish fillets and some Canadian bacon. This way these small things don't become lost in the freezer never to be seen again. I just pull the basket out for those odds and ends I know are in there.

One benefit of cleaning out the freezer is a dinner I didn't have to shop for this week as it was made up of older things that needed using up. Don't throw food away. It is like burning your money. Took a corned beef bought in March and cooked it in the crock pot and then sliced it for sandwiches.

And a partial package of pepperoni in my little green basket along with some pantry staples became a wonderful Italian pasta salad.

With food so expensive, and I believe getting even more so, we have to become careful stewards of the food we do buy. Make it last, use it up and eat every last drop is my motto.


  1. Great tips, Elaine. I'm going to steal the paper towel idea - we always have sticky maple syrup on the shelf!

    Too cruel of your to show those Dove Bars!


  2. I love it. I have spent the week organizing also. I love the idea of baskets in the refrigerator for smalls. Thanks for sharing.
    blessings to you.

  3. I hadn't really thought of using baskets like that in the freezer but what great idea!!! Oh I need to clean my fridge for sure! xo Linda

  4. Great tips. I love an organized fridge, makes getting what you need so much easier and such a time saver. The salad looks amazing. Hugs, Marty

  5. oohh I luv this post....I will try your paper towel idea for sure. :)

  6. Thanks for the reminder. I often use baskets, etc. in the bottom part of the fridge. I need to use them in the top as well so as not to waste partial packages. You always have wonderful tips!

  7. You have some really good ideas here! I use baskets in my big freezer to keep things grouped, but I never thought to use them in the fridge.

    I actually keep my lesser used condiments (tartar sauce, horseradish sauce, hoisin, etc) in one of the drawers with the names written in sharpie on the tops -- and leftovers in the other drawer. I keep all my produce up on the shelves, because I was losing too much down in the drawers - if the produce was out of sight, it was out of mind, while leftovers get eaten the next day usually and are easily found in the drawer.

  8. These are great tips! I'm going to try some of them. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I have started putting yogurt, butter, lunch meat and cheese in the big drawer of my fridge.. I have a side by side type and neither the freezer nor the fridge hold much..
    I really like your idea about putting the paper towels in the shelves on the door.. Will do that !
    I will also look for small baskets~~~Dollar Store maybe, for the small items on the door.
    Thank you for your suggestions..
    Have a great school year with your "kiddos"..
    Blessings, Charlotte

  10. I love your paper towel idea, going to go and do it right now.

  11. I, too, have found that baskets in the freezer keep things from falling all over each other. I can just pull out a basket of chicken and choose what I want knowing that steak and burgers are in separate baskets as well. And the paper towel idea is priceless -- saves so much aggravation.

  12. I use baskets too, and it keep things more containerized rather than having to pull a bunch of small things out every time. I use them in my small chest freezer too...

  13. Elaine, did your mother teach you all these things, or do you just come by it naturally? What I'm having the most trouble with is trying to get my wheelchair in that tight corner and be able to reach things on shelves.

  14. I really need to spend a day and take everything out of my fridge and freezer and organize it. So much food gets pushed to the back, never to be seen again. Great post! I love the yogurt and pudding cups idea going into a bin rather than on a shelf. I will be doing that!!!!

  15. So true on the food getting more expensive. I do try to keep my door holders organized by like items. I didn't think about the paper towels under things, that a good tip. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  16. Great post Elaine! Makes me want to clean my frig. (Well sort of) ; )

  17. The paper towel tip is a good one! My husband calls our freezer the cave because anything that gets put in there immediately gets lost and forgotten.

  18. Great ideas! I use baskets but could use a few more and the paper towel is super...I never thought of that one.

  19. All great ideas but the one with the baskets in the freezer really hit a nerve, I have large wire sides baskets and everything always falls out! I am going to look at the dollar store for those next time I am there!....don't you just love a clean organized fridge?

  20. Just catching up with you this evening and what did I do today? Clean and organize my fridge and freezer. I use baskets in my fridge to corral cheeses and odd leftovers. I hadn't thought to use your idea of paper towel on the doors though I have used them in the veg crisper drawers.

    I also use a wire plate rack in my fridge freezer. Under it there's enough room for loaves of bread. I mean to get a basket to use on the top to gather things. I put nuts in jars and they store nicely on the door shelves.

    Well, I didn't mean to go on so, but I was proud of the work I'd done and to read your post and find you'd done the same...

    Thank you for sharing!

  21. I will definitely use some of these ideas, Elaine.