Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator

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Several years ago, I ditched my crisper drawers.  I was tired of the soggy and rotten vegetables that tend to multiply when stored in those drawers.

The ultra-organized side of my brain could not handle the waste and chaos created by shoving bags of produce in there and then hoping I would remember to use it all before it spoiled.

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

I set up a system of boxes that works amazingly well for helping produce last longer and actually get eaten in the process! I’ve used this system in a very large refrigerator and in the much smaller one that I have right now.

It is completely adaptable; simply find boxes that fit well in your space.

In case you missed it last week, I use this DIY Fruit and Vegetable Wash for cleaning my fruits and vegetables.

Click here for a printable post without photos.

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

READY TO EAT VEGETABLES: carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, snap peas. The selection changes throughout the year, but there is always an assortment of washed and cleaned vegetables ready for snacking or salad making.

READY TO EAT FRUITS: grapes, berries, melons and pineapple. This selection changes according to the season, but there is almost always something in the fruit box.

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

FRESH HERBS: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley and cilantro are the most common. The selection changes according to my mood and whether or not I have fresh herbs available in the garden. There is always parsley in my refrigerator.

I keep my green onions and my fresh ginger in this container as well. Everything in this box is wrapped in paper towels. The fresh herbs are wrapped in towels and then stored in ziploc bags with most of the air pressed out of them. My herbs last at least 2-3 weeks this way. I’ve had them last as long as 5-6 weeks.

FRESH LETTUCES AND OTHER GREENS: Leafy greens can be stored (before or after they are washed) in airtight containers lined with paper towels or in ziploc bags with paper towels, with all of
the air pressed out. Lettuces will always last longer if you wait to wash them until you are ready to use them.

Keep a layer of paper towels or a washcloth in the bottom of each produce box. The towels absorb moisture, helping everything to last longer. When the towels are wet, simply replace them with dry ones. If a box tends to be more humid and gathers water along the sides or the lid, laying a second towel on top of the produce will help prevent that.

FRESH HERBS can also be kept in water in the refrigerator. It is lovely to see a bright green bunch of leaves when you open the refrigerator. However, I never manage to have enough dedicated space for that, so I tend to use a produce box for my herbs most of the time.

Did you know that GREEN ONIONS can be re-grown in a glass of water? I’ve been doing this for over a year now. As you trim what you need, the onions will grow back slightly lighter in color and the flavor will not be as strong. I tend to trim them down a few times and then use the ends and replace them with fresh onions.

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

CELERY will keep for 4-5 weeks when wrapped in foil. I do not use a great deal of celery in my cooking, but I always seem to need a stalk or two as soon as I don’t have it in the house. By wrapping the celery in foil, it lasts much longer in between uses.

I wrap it in foil without washing it and then just break off and wash the stalks as I need them. You can also wash and trim celery and then store it in the vegetable box with the other ready to eat produce. Mine lasts a couple of weeks when stored in the boxes.

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Are you wondering what I keep in the unused crisper bins? I store meats that are thawing or waiting to be cooked in one of the drawers and I store ready to eat meats and cheeses in the
second drawer.

I use the pre-washed and cut vegetables to make our Snack Tray Lunches at least twice a week. I set the vegetable box and some Homemade Ranch Dip on the table almost every night while I am making dinner. We all snack on it as we wait for dinner. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Enjoy!

Kitchen Tips: Produce Boxes ~ Organizing Your Refrigerator recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

 

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Amanda says

    I like the general direction but I am very concerned about the plastic containers. Even if they are food-grade (as in food safe) and even if they are BPA free they are still plastic and it is just bad.
    I would like at least to use glass containers with plastic leads if I must.

    Also paper towels is good idea but most of the standard ones on the market contain a lotion. Yes, hand lotion is built in them aside from multitude of bleaches and other chemicals that makes me reconisder wrapping food or having them in contact with food for a long time. Perhaps organic cotton cloth that would be washable would work just as well?

    • Mary says

      Half the time I throw a clean washcloth or thin dish towel in the bottom of the boxes, just because I don't have paper towels on hand. The beauty of this kind of kitchen tip (and most recipes) is that they are adaptable for anyone. Feel free to use this very loose "system" however works best for your way of life.

    • Jean says

      I also use white terry cloth towels in the kitchen. I buy white washcloths and hand towels intended for use in the bathroom, but use them exclusively for food prep in the kitchen. For a while, whenever I spotted them on sale, I bought a package or two. Now I have enough that I can pull out a clean one to dry washed fruit or veggies and other kitchen tasks where sanitation is important. My laundry area has a basket just for these towels, so I can wash and bleach them when the clean supply in the kitchen is running low.

  2. Tina says

    I have just stumbled across your site and LOVE it! I want to start prepping my veggies like this, but I have a couple questions… 1) how often do you find yourself prepping/refilling the boxes, and 2) do the different types of veggies “get along” well in the same container, like hard crunchy carrots mixed in with soft, mushy-prone cucumbers?

  3. DeAna says

    Thank you thank you thank you you thank you!!
    I bought my fridge used and the crispers were useless. My daughter and I LOVE veggies but they never last! I’m so happy I can across your site. I just came from the grocery and will be doing this.

  4. Jean says

    I do something similar. I have a salad almost every day for lunch. When I come home from the store, I pull out several pieces of each salad veggie–a couple of carrots, 2-3 stalks of celery, etc. The rest goes into the crisper drawer in their store packaging. I also have a produce box as you describe. I wash those selected veggies but leave them whole. Each day, I pull out the produce box, along with any proteins or other salad components. I slice or shred just enough veggies to make today’s salad. After lunch, I restock the produce box as needed by “shopping” in the crisper drawer and cleaning what I select. I also store washed and chopped greens in the fridge in my salad spinner. After spinning, I pour out the drained water, but don’t dry the spinner bowl. I think that little bit of moisture–which is not in contact with the leaves since they remain in the basket–helps keep the greens fresher.

  5. Heather Feather says

    This is such a great idea! Wish I could rewind back 10 years and use it when my son was still little. He’s now 17 so I have a teeny bit of time left, lol. Thanks.

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