Organizing Tip: How to Organize a Refrigerator for a Plant-Based Diet

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Image of a vegetable market
Make sure those vegetables from the market or store stay fresh!

Are you starting a whole food plant based diet?

Perhaps you are simply looking to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your diet in general?

Today’s post is a handy guide to help you organize and store vegetables so you can quickly take out what you need and keep your veggies fresh.

Before we begin, thanks to N.S.I for suggesting this blog topic!

Here are a few ideas to help you keep things crisp:

 

Get to know vegetable shelf-lives.

Some vegetables are delicate while others are more hearty. It really makes a difference knowing what will keep for several days versus what will keep for several weeks. If you aren’t sure how long an item will last in the fridge, you can do a quick online search or consult a general cookbook.

You might even have your own guide in your mind from personal experience. In my experience, I’ve found lettuces and alfalfa sprouts are delicate and will last only a couple of days, for example, while broccoli and cabbage are a bit more hearty and can last a week or more.

Here’s an informal list from my own personal research:

Delicate Vegetables

  • Lettuces
  • Kale
  • Broccoli Raab or Rabe
  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Bok choy
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Green onions

Medium hearty vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans

Hearty vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini and/or squash
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Organize vegetables by size.

Obviously some vegetables will have to be stored in different areas of the fridge because of their size; a large pack of greens or a giant head of cauliflower won’t fit in a tiny drawer! Keep larger vegetables together in your fridge so it’s each to see what is what; store smaller heartier vegetables together in drawers so they won’t get lost in the produce shuffle.

Organize vegetables by perishability.

You can minimize spoilage by paying attention to shelf-lives and storing items that are prone to spoilage within easy reach after opening the fridge door.

Keep a tally.

Make a list of the vegetables you have in your fridge or anytime after you’ve gone grocery shopping on a dry erase board, or a piece of paper. You could even write regularly recurring vegetables in your  kitchen on separate index cards and rotate them after you’ve used them so you know what is in the fridge.

Follow the laws of physics.

Remember from high school science class – hot air rises and cold air sinks. Keep this in mind when plotting out where you’ll store certain foods in your fridge. You’ll want to keep leafy vegetables lower down in the fridge, not necessarily at the bottom but not the top to avoid warmer temperatures from wilting items.

Dry off those veggies!

Some supermarkets and grocery stories tend to spray vegetables with water. Unfortunately this water spraying can quickly rot produce, especially if you do not dry off the veggies with paper towels ahead of time. If you cannot dry off veggies before hand, make sure you open plastic bags to let the veggies breathe, or purchase special produce bags to allow produce to “breathe” when the bags are sealed. In a similar vein, you should only wash vegetables until you are ready to use them to prevent unnecessary spoilage.

Properly store frozen items.

Frozen vegetables are great to use in a pinch, but did you know items stored in the freezer door never really get totally frozen? Make sure you pack items closely in the heart of the freezer. Be sure to rotate new packs of frozen vegetables and check best by dates to maintain freshness and prevent freezer burn.

Not everything has to be refrigerated.

Did you know? Not all vegetables or produce items must be refrigerated. Hearty items such as potatoes, onions and garlic will keep for weeks in a cool, dark place.

How about you? Do you organize vegetables in your refrigerator in any particular method? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.