Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Fulfillment Project: Refrigerator Reveal

Before I reveal my newly fabulous refrigerator, I need to talk about the organizational process. Believe it or not, a refrigerator that leads to fulfillment is more process driven than you might think.  Remember yesterday, when Rach made me separate everything into use frequency groups? Immediately after we were done she gave me some great words of wisdom.

"You're going to have to think of your refrigerator in zones.  We're going to have the beverage zone, the cheese zone, the egg zone and the lunch meat zone.  Everything needs to be separated."

Rach's snack drawer: fruit leathers arranged by flavor.
Even though Rach is a master organizer (and no, this isn't what she does for a living) my refrigerator usage needs were tricky for two reasons.  The first reason is because I like to cook so there are almost always leftovers.  The second reason is also due to our lifestyle.  Because I like to cook different things I have, unwittingly, trained my family to expect an endless bounty of variety. 

In Rach's house she always stocks cucumbers and pears (hence the labeled boxes for cucumbers and pears).  Before my dreams of a perfectly organized fridge could evaporate, Rach saved the day by coming up with the idea of rotating zones.  Or, another way of putting it is organization with less specificity.  Instead of the grape compartment, I have the fresh fruit to be packed in lunches compartment.

The second, even more important concept, was marketing. "As soon as you bring the food home, you have to market it to yourself," she told me. Marketing it to myself means making it visible.  She removed all my exotic condiments, aka seldom use items, from their home in the fridge door and arranged them along the back of my fridge.  "You're sacrificing valuable real estate for things you use once a month," she reminded me.  "And this way you can't shove things to the back and forget about them.  Remember, market to yourself."

Infrequent use items populate the back row formerly reserved for slimy stuff.
She grouped my cheeses, including the three cream cheeses.  "You need a box for these," she told me. Rach loves the clear refrigerator boxes at Storables.  Her emphasis was on clear so you can see what's inside because, "if you can't see it, you won't eat it." She also urged me to take my eggs out of their space-sucking carton and load them into an egg container.  "Pull from the front, load from the back," she told me when I asked how she made sure some eggs weren't left to go bad. 

Empty fruit box on top, clear cheese box on right middle
 We struggled with where to place my tortillas.  They're awkward and bulky, but eventually we decided it made sense to put them underneath the cheese container.  It's a logical placement.  I hardly ever use tortillas without cheese so it keeps things separated while simultaneously maximizing my cooking efficiency.  Another example of logical placement was storing the peanut butter next to the jelly.  Genius!  No more time spent searching for the jelly or multiple jars of open jelly.

Finally, there were the leftovers.  How would we deal with the leftovers or large pots and pans that require refrigeration during dinner parties or holiday meals?  Rach whipped out a tape measure.  "We can turn the pot lids upside down and still have room to slide your big pot into the bottom shelf," she showed me.  The bottom shelf, left hand side was dedicated to leftovers and precut fruit.  It's going to become the go-to spot for my foraging husband and children.

Tomorrow, a break down and price assessment of the refrigerator remodel.  And, more importantly for purposes of my blog, how does having a streamlined, super-efficient refrigerator make my life more fulfilled.  But before I leave I need to show you with one more picture.  It's the beverage zone.  So easy, so simple, everything all grouped together in the door.  Opening my refrigerator still isn't like a day at the spa, but I have to admit I get a certain amount of pleasure every time I look at my beverage zone.  Look, it's all right there at the tip of my fingers!


Pame Brennan said...

I am SO jealous!

Mariebop said...

Between you with the fridge and another blog I read where she was cleaning out closets, I want to completely get rid of all the stuff in my house.

SBJones said...

Pretty interesting. I will have to look at my own work space and see if I can market to myself to increase productivity and reduce wasted time.

As a bachelor my fridge isn't as full as yours. Beer on the bottom, sandwich stuff for the rest lol.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Certain foods I have no problem marketing to myself!

Sarah Tokeley said...

I need some clear containers. I'm so guilty of putting stuff in boxes and forgetting about it.

T. L. Cooper said...

Very nice!! Organization is a great tool for feeling more balanced and centered. I believe when we feel balanced and centered, we feel fulfilled or at least well on our way to fulfillment! Being organized frees our brains to think about the important things!!

jenny milchman said...

That is a thing of beauty, Johanna. My husband is the big leftover saver--think I could get him to do this??

Johanna Garth said...

Pame, don't be jealous. Tomorrow's focus is on how to get your fridge to look just like mine!

Mariebop, don't fight it...join us :)

SB, I love the idea of marketing to yourself for productivity. I'm going to think about that one.

T.L., I feel like you might have peaked at tomorrow's blog post...all I can add to your comment is exactly!

Jenny, absolutely. Tomorrow's post talks about how I'm getting my husband on board.

Tonja said...

My husband doesn't always respect the zones. I don't call them zones, but I thought everyone had them. I think boxes are a little overkill for me. I think everything can have it's place without a box.