Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OrganizeWithBrilliance #CollectiveBias
When is comes to meal planning, I have to admit that it’s been a struggle to stay consistent. Having a big family means there are sometimes last minute projects, or a mystery illness, or different moods or likes/dislikes when it comes to food. Meal planning or not, it can be a struggle to consistently make dinner for a family of seven. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll go through the entire pantry and refrigerator to purge and organize. Then, I’ll make a shopping list while planning the meals for the week.
To accomplish this, you must start with your refrigerator.
When paying attention to what’s on sale at the grocery store after taking inventory of what’s available at home – paired with what your family likes to eat, the weekly meal plan practically comes together on its own!
< Click here > to download my printable to aid in weekly meal planning and shopping!
I created a simple printable that includes space on the left for a weekly meal plan, however that looks for you. You can just include dinners, or you can plan out all the meals for the week. During the week the breakfast and lunches are just for me since I’m home. If I don’t at least somewhat plan my own meals and snacks I’ll get so wrapped up in my work that I will forget to eat. Having meals planned out and somewhat prepared really helps me in this aspect. On the right I’ve created a space for a shopping list. When I plan my meals I base them on what I have and what’s on sale. This particular week we had a lot of chicken to use up, so most of the lunches and dinners include the chicken that I already have. I found that when I used to try to meal plan I was overthinking it. I tried to make complex meals when in reality my family is quite simple. They like classic and traditional type meals, so that is what I try to stick to.
When clicking the link to print, you can print either in color or black and white, then just keep it on your fridge or in your weekly planner. You could also keep it in a plastic sleeve and just write on the plastic with white board markers. I’d love to know how you plan to use yours!
Now, back to the refrigerator. Back when I had my very first apartment I didn’t even own storage containers. I might have kept an old margarine or sour cream container, but I often would just put the cover on my pot and store the whole thing in the fridge. Isn’t that the worst?
Thankfully I’ve grown and learned some things, I’ve also collected so many varieties of containers that I have begun to know what I like and what I don’t. Here’s the short list of ideals:
- Clear containers. Seriously, this is so important! It’s so easy to forget what exactly it was that you put in that old cottage cheese container, and exactly how long it’s been at the back of your fridge. You may have even thought it was cottage cheese! Also, a solid container with a clear top isn’t enough, you can’t see what’s inside at first glance.
- Square or rectangular storage. When it comes to food storage sometimes you need every last bit of room. Don’t waste valuable refrigerator real estate with round containers!
- Leak proof. Nothing is worse than pickle juice leaking down three levels of your fridge. Ask me how I know.
- Microwave/dishwasher/freezer safe. What’s the point of using containers to make your life easier if they don’t fit in with your every day life? Speaking of the microwave, containers that are splatter free are a huge plus!
- Stackable. There’s nothing better than looking inside your fridge and seeing leftovers and pre-prepped food neatly stacked at eye level.
- BPA free. If you’re using plastic containers, this is an especially important one for families. So many plastics are made with BPA, so it’s important to find BPA free containers for storing you food for you and your loved ones.
- Stain and odor resistant. Even when a container is clean, when you open it up to store food inside you don’t want to see stains (or smell food) that no amount of soaking and scrubbing will get out.
Okay, maybe that’s not the shortest list, but you get the idea.
The good news is that I’ve recently discovered Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ and they are the perfect storage containers that address each and every one of my needs! They come in a 10 pc BRILLIANCE™ set in various sizes and include lids with a unique rubber seal and latches that secures them to the containers when closed. These latches make them 100% leak proof. Guaranteed!
These containers are a game changer. Once I had them I couldn’t wait to go through my refrigerators and get them all organized. Since we are a larger family we do have two refrigerators at home. Obviously, the kitchen refrigerator and we have another fridge in our garage. Typically, the overflow or excess items would just go in the outside fridge and whatever I could fit in the kitchen fridge I would. I realize that we need a better system, so I went through and thoroughly organized everything with a plan in mind. I also did some light meal prepping like marinating some chicken and dicing onions and I also arranged some snacks ahead of time to keep in the inside fridge so that when the kids open it absentmindedly they can actually find snacks that are appropriate for them staring back at them at eye level. The snacks are also a good idea for me since I’m often working from home and losing track of time, prepared snacks are a life-saver.
While organizing both of my refrigerators, I made a few mental notes that were key in refrigerator organization. I’d like to share them with you, because I think it will be helpful when organizing your own refrigerator. I would suggest a weekly cleaning and a monthly complete overhaul.
- Check the dates on everything. Whether it’s a package of bacon or a container of mustard, always check the dates and discard as needed. I’m usually really good at this with milk and meats, but condiments I tend to check less often.
- Be aware of what’s at eye level. I try to keep the healthier snacks and leftovers that I want to get eaten up at the forefront. So these items will go on the middle shelves of my indoor refrigerator so they are in constant view every time someone opens the fridge.
- Use the veggie drawer humidity settings. If your fruits and veggies are always going bad, check those humidity settings. My refrigerator has two drawers, so I can put fruits in one and veggies in the other and set the levels accordingly.
- Be strategic if you have multiple refrigerators. I’ve made the mistake of storing leftovers in the outside fridge and forgetting about them. Or storing a birthday cake or an uncut watermelon in the inside fridge and it’s taken up so much room. When you have more than one refrigerator, you have to be strategic. Raw meat and meat that’s marinating can be kept in the outside refrigerator, just because for some people it can be a bit of a turn off. Packaged snacks and drinks can also be kept in the outside fridge, since I find that the kids won’t eat five in one day that way. Healthier snacks like strawberries can be kept in the inside fridge, pre-rinsed and ready to grab. Milk and just a few other beverages are all you need for the inside fridge and any extras can go outside. All soda, wine or beer goes outside, and same with water bottles. Condiments that are open but aren’t used as often also go in the outside fridge.
- Prepare some items ahead of time for times when you’re in a pinch. Snacks like baby carrots, quick salads, or cheese and meats are great to store together for times when you need something quick.
All of my organizing sure paid off, because as soon as I finished organizing both of the refrigerators, my eldest was in the fridge delighted to see foods that were easy to snack on or put together for a quick meal stored in these beautiful clear containers.
BRILLIANCE™ containers are crystal clear all around, they actually look like glass! The 360 degree clarity makes it easy to see what’s inside and they are 100% leak proof. Guaranteed. Oh, be still my heart! The features that this product boasts simply do not compare to other storage solutions, I can literally check off my entire list. Not only are they stain and odor resistant, they are also freezer and dishwasher safe. You also get splatter-resistant microwaving by just leaving the lid on the container and lifting the latches to open the built in vents.
These are so perfect for refrigerator organization too. They’re aesthetically pleasing with their simple and clean clear design, and stack perfectly. It even feels like there’s more room because the containers are not bulky, they’re streamlined and neat so there’s room to move stuff around and add more leftovers when necessary.
Now that my refrigerators are organized and beautiful, it’s time to rearrange and organize that pantry too! A cook’s kitchen is never complete, right? If you’re interested in purchasing Rubbermaid® BRILLIANCE™ of your own, they are available nationwide at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon and other fine retailers. Happy organizing!
Do you have a routine for kitchen organization? I’d love to hear it!
Don’t forget to save for later by pinning the image below. Just hover over the photo and click “pin it” to save to your favorite Pinterest board.
Samantha k says
Like you, I have a hard time being consistent when it comes to meal planning. The printable seems very helpful!! (client)
Thank you for sharing this post, it was very helpful. I am not good at organizing my fridge lol. My name is Brandy, and I am new to the blogging community, its nice to meet you all. God bless you and your family! http://whimsicalwolfblog.com/
Rebecca ROBINETT says
I have used a similar meal plan and shopping list for over two years. It has saved money because I only get what I need. Every Sunday night we go over our coming week schedule and plan our menu. Love your article.
Linda Kinsman says
I love your organized fridge! I am working on that this afternoon, because it will be stuffed to capacity with Easter dinner fare. Thanks for the printables!