Last week I shared with you a secret for which you would have to pay hundreds of dollars normally. But you got it here for Zero dollars!!! The secret: Have a job you dread, that is overwhelming, that needs to be done but you have too little time and/or energy to tackle? Break that job into smaller chunks and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish without taxing your resources! Don’t save this secret but start to apply that little secret to everyday jobs. No more letting things go until “you have time to get to it” while whatever chore it is continues to build, getting worse and more time consuming. Things that used to drive you crazy because you know they need to be done, but you “just don’t have time”, will get accomplished easily. And you will have peace of mind that will let you enjoy life!
Last time we cleaned the door and the top of the refrigerator. You can read about Day One here. This week we are cleaning the refrigerator compartment itself. Some folks will want to turn off the refrigerator to save energy. And then you have the debate: does that save enough energy to compensate for the extra time needed to cool back down. We are only going to allot about 30 minutes to this chore. For me, I vote to leave it run — especially since I can barely reach the hard to move off switch at the very top and furthermost corner of the refrigerator. You do what you think best for you.
Start with the top shelf. Remove all food from the shelf, discarding any that is unusuable. I use this time to also get rid of things that are on the edge of their storage life. I usually time refrigerator cleaning just before I know I am going to restock the basics. Sometimes I will put refrigerator soup on the menu for that evening — a beef based soup that will handle all sorts of leftover veggies, bits of meat. In that case, I empty them all together in one container. Other times, stuff will go right into the empty plastic grocery bag I put on the counter for the purpose of transporting discards to the trash can. Empty containers go directly in the dishwasher.
When the shelf is empty, wash it with warm water. This is the only way I have discovered that is effective. Rest the shelf on the sink divider and wash in running water with a plastic scrubber. If you need to scour, use baking soda and the sponge. Soda’s grittiness will take off sticky substances, but is safe for using around food. Rinse and dry. Wipe the sides of the refrigerator with the sponge, again using soda as needed. Replace each shelf as it is cleaned. I usually let the food set out so I can see and “sort” before putting it back when everything is clean.
I clean the bottom drawers in the sink, as well, with running water. A squirt of dishwashing detergent can be helpful, especially if something yucky had been residing on the bottom.
The hard part: In most refrigerators the area under and behind the drawers can collect small items that have been dropped and drips from spills can linger unnoticed until the drawers are removed. It’s easiest to take the water to the refrigerator. I have a beat up pan that works just great for cleaning — just the right size for rinsing and squeezing out a sponge. A brush can be invaluable. The long handle on this one lets me leverage the pressure so I can clean thoroughly. Those pipes are the holding station for the chilled water. A smaller brush makes quick work of cleaning them and the slots that hold the drawers. Again use soda (and elbow grease) for your food safe scrubbing agent. Rinse if needed. Replace drawers and any remaining shelves. Then sort and put all the food back! All done!
Hints # 1, 2 and 3
Hint #1. This refrigerator doesn’t have an egg keeper. To protect the eggs, I put a wire shelf over them. Otherwise, the eggs made a flat surface for OTHER people 🙂 to stack food. I couldn’t get to the eggs quickly and when I did get them out to use them, there were always broken ones. The wire shelf makes a good spot to set those little dabs of food that can be added to a hot lunch pack or are “free game” for snacks and off schedule meals. (Is that hint #2?)
Next Hint: Those flat plastic baskets — white and yellow — came from the dollar store. Love them! We eat lots of yogurt here so they are called the yogurt basket — and there are two because two people eat two different kinds. When I bring 10 or 15 containers of each kind home from the grocery, I just pull out the correct basket and fill it on the counter from the bag and slide it back into place. I can see at a glance which one needs replenishing when I am planning my grocery trips. And if something gets spilled, cleaning the basket is better than cleaning the whole shelf. Win, win!
Food fresh hints: That white utility bin holds packaged deli meat. No one can open another package of meat unless that bin is empty. A rule from when Bytes and his brother would eat two slices out of a package and open a new package next time. The first opened packages would get lost and then tossed every time! And those fresh berries and little tomatoes are stacked there so the cook can see them and not forget to use them.
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