Leo Varadkar made headlines this week with his perfectly organised fridge, featuring the visually pleasing atheistic of storing food in plastic containers.
t’s a style of food storage that we have seen from many health and fitness influencers.
But packing your food into labelled containers is not the be-all and end-all of fridge etiquette, according to experts there are several other things we should consider when organising our fridge before caring about how it looks.
Nutritionist Eva Campbell, who also has a food blog and Instagram called ‘thehealthytart’, said she is organised with her fridge, but she wouldn’t have perfect labels on everything.
She says the most important thing is to have the correct foods on the correct shelves to maximise freshness.
“In the drawers, you would usually keep the fruit and vegetables because that protects them from the extreme cold, the more modern fridges usually have humidity control in those drawers so that keeps them fresher for longer,” she explained.
“Then the bottom shelf is where you store all the meat and poultry and fish because that’s the coldest part of the fridge.
“The middle shelf is the best for leftovers and all things dairy, like cheeses and yogurts because higher up again it’s not that cold anymore.
“Then at the very top, this might be a surprise for people, I would keep nuts, seeds, and flour, particularly gluten-free flour, because they have quite a high-fat content so they can go rancid. I would keep them in air-tight containers at the top of the fridge.”
Ms Campbell said for those who are busy prepping food can be beneficial, but it is preferable to cook during the day to maximise the benefits from nutrients.
“Generally speaking, it’s better if you cook every day because when some foods are exposed to air they lose nutrients.
“But, for really busy people I recommend for them to buy vegetables and wash them straight away, chop them up and store them in glass containers and put a damp kitchen cloth into it to keep it fresh for longer and that way that minimises nutrient loss.
“And when it’s easy to reach for it and it’s at eye height the likeliness is much higher that you are going to eat the vegetables and have it if it is there and ready to eat.”
If the food blogger was to recommend anything that can help organise your fridge better, while also making it more organised, she said it would be glass containers.
“I’m organised but I don’t have those perfect labels on everything!” she said.
“I find them so nice to look at but you are spending so much money on all these containers and these labels, I do like storing things in glass though.
“You can see how much is in it and also it minimises the exposure to plastic and BPA and those kinds of things.”
Although an aesthetically pleasing fridge can be nice to look at, Chef Conor Spacey of Food Space Ireland explained how many of us may be storing our food in the wrong way – which may be leading to shorter shelf life.
“A lot of food waste can happen from storing food wrong, you especially need to segregate your fruit from your vegetables in your fridge,” he said.
“Some fruits release a gas called ethaline and this can affect other vegetables and fruits and make them go off quicker so hence, they need to be segregated.”
Mr Spacey believes that more people should be freezing the foods that they know they are not going to get around to eating before they go bad.
“I think freezing your food sn brilliant, freezers were invented to prolong the life of food.
“Now freezers are full of processed foods, and I get that, because we all have busy lifestyles.
“But we need to fall back in love with our freezer and understand that it is the best way of prolonging the shelf life or our food and avoid waste.”
When deciding to be more sustainable in your kitchen, he recommends to not purchase large quantities of Tupperware for storage if you are not going to shop sustainably.
“People buy these plastic containers and will store their food in them thinking they are avoiding plastic but when we go to the supermarket we buy the food in the plastic, which defeats the purpose.”
“If you’re going to buy food that is unfortunately packed in plastic in a supermarket well then you might as well just store it in the plastic, because all you’re doing is avoiding the problem.”
“Start with easy steps that will build your confidence, such as buying your condiments in glass jars instead of plastic containers, buying your fruit loose or buying your meat in foil trays that can be washed and recycled.”
Dietitian Aoife Hearne from Operation Transformation shared that people need to be more conscious of their food being safely stored in their fridges.
“Food safety is the most important thing when storing food, so things like raw meats should go at the bottom of the fridge.”
“The ready to eat foods such as, cheese and yogurts, I would place in the centre of the fridge.”
“Then up the top you’re going to have things that are more high risk, such as cooked proteins that are going to be re-heated.”
“It is very important that raw meats are at the bottom of your fridge so there is no risk of them dripping down onto any ready to eat food.”
She believes that Leo Varadkar’s meal prepped fridge is a great way to ensure one is eating healthy.
“People that want to eat well, I think meal prepping is the place to put your energy into.”
“With meal prepping there is an element of losing our nutrients, but it is the easiest way for people to get their vegetables in. I wouldn’t be worried about some of the minor nutrient loses that may be lost when meal prepping.”
“Dishes with sauce or moisture in them, such as casseroles, are better for meal prepping as drier foods, when re-heated, may not taste as good as they would when cooked fresh but will still be safe as long as they are refrigerated and stored safely.”