Sometimes the fridge can be a disaster or a blessing, depending on how well it is organized. For busy AU students, waiting to clean and manage the fridge until the end of the school year could mean a logistical nightmare during the semester. So how can we make this space more effective, regardless of whether you own a large or a small fridge or even if you’re sharing with one or multiple roommates?
- Put items that need to be eaten at the front: one of the hard-learned truths about living independently is to prioritize your resources—this includes groceries! I use the policy “first in, first out” as a way of managing my own food supplies. Our instincts sometimes drive what we eat and can cause plenty of waste in the kitchen. For example, I found an apricot in the fridge the other day that had become too old because it was further toward the back of the fridge. Organizing the fridge this way will help you save on your grocery bill in the long run by having less waste in the kitchen.
- Don’t purchase large portion sizes if you’re living alone: Some AU students live independently of their families, which means the onus is on them in terms of grocery shopping and managing the fridge. While manufacturers often charge a higher price for a single item than when in multi-packs, it is sometimes more sensible to purchase less than more. For example, having purchased Costco-sized portions of fruits and veggies, I realized that while I was paying a cheaper price for what I got, I wasted more fresh produce in the end.
- If you have a freezer, try using up more freezer space so you don’t need to worry about freshness: If you’re blessed with a larger freezer space, use it to your advantage. While fresh foods spoil faster, frozen veggies and fruits are perfect alternatives for days when grocery shopping becomes a chore. During packed exam schedules, I have oftentimes relied on my freezer to provide me with relatively fresh produce and proteins.
- Keep a fridge calendar/diary: One of the ways I keep track of fresh products and even meal-prep items is through a fridge calendar. During a busy exam season, I would rely on the calendar to know which foods have been lingering in the fridge the longest. I would target those for my next meal and reduce wastage.
- Shelves in the fridge are most prone to temperature fluxes, try to store things with natural condiments here. One fun fact I learned while living alone is that food near the fridge door often spoils first. Particularly if you have fresh eggs, it is advised that they be kept further into the fridge rather than close to the door where the largest temperature fluctuation occurs.