Have you ever opened your refrigerator and freezer and felt like you have no idea what is in it, how long it's been there and what to do with it? It's hard to eat a healthy diet when you don'thave the ingredients you need at homeor the sanity to figure out what you need to get started. And many times we complain that we don't buy a great deal of fresh food because it spoils. I asked Susan Weiner, author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life to explain why having an organized refrigerator is so important and tips on how to clean it up for a fresh start at a healthy lifestyle.
Find out all she had to say to get motivated and prepared.
Why is it important to organize the refrigerator and freezer?
Have you ever decided to prepare a healthy meal - set up your pots, pans and cookware, taken out all of your ingredients… and then realized that you ran out of olive oil or that the chicken you needed for the main dish wasn’t defrosted? If you organize your kitchen, refrigerator and freezer, you can find what you need very easily.
Organization also helps you avoid the cost and waste of duplicate purchases. Keep things in clear containers and label everything so that you can easily locate it and throw out anything out of date or spoiled. If you know what you have in inventory, you won’t duplicate the purchases.
Is there a good way to prevent fruits and vegetables from spoiling?
Store fruits and vegetables in separate drawers when possible to minimize spoilage. Some vegetables give off a gas that can increase the ripening process and increase the chance of spoilage.
Don’t wash then until you are ready to use them, and store them in perforated plastic bags so they last longer.
Where should meat be stored and how long can it stay in the freezer?
In the refrigerator, always store raw meat on the lowest shelf. The temperature is the coolest at the bottom of your fridge.
And this also prevents raw meat from dripping on any cooked food and contaminating it.
When properly wrapped in freezer-safe bags or containers, meat can keep for months in the freezer. Here is a great website that lists safe storage periods for meat and other foods:
Is there a way to prevent freezer burn?
Foods that have freezer burn look awful, and the quality and taste will not be the same. In order to prevent freezer burn, try some of the following tips:
Try a freezer-safe container that is moisture proof.
Buy containers and freezer bags of different sizes, so that you have the right sized container or bag for every need. Make sure all the air is out of the freezer bags before you put in foods to be stored.
Make sure the freezer is set to the correct temperature and you don’t keep opening and closing the door.
Don’t over stuff the freezer. That way you’ll know what you have and reduce the chance of freezer burn at the same time.
What about leftovers - how can I organize them?
Label, label, label! Store leftovers in clear containers and label them clearly with a date. Store leftovers in a particular place in your refrigerator or freezer so they are easily located.
How long will leftovers last in the refrigerator before I have to throw them away?
If properly stored, leftovers can be kept in the fridge for about 3-4 days. If you question the way the leftovers look or smell, throw them out right away.
If you had to pick 5 foods that someone with diabetes must have in their refrigerator what would they be?
For the most nutritional punch with the least impact on blood sugar, I’d choose:
Colorful fruits in season such as blueberries and melon
Colorful vegetables in season such as broccoli and kale
Chicken (to be cooked within a day or so from time of purchase)