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

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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. Pat Thomas says

    Thank you for this post-very original thinking. I too had become very concerned about produce waste. Thanks for the much needed idea about getting rid of the crisper drawer

  2. Sue/the view from great island says

    I love this post! I can't tell you how much I hate my veggie bin…I lose so much in there, and cleaning it out is disgusting. This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, I guess because we're going into the season for all the great fruits and vegetables and herbs.
    You should design refrigerators, seriously.

  3. Joy Bee says

    wow. I applaud your organization. I know myself well enough to know that that is something I will never be able to do. Luckily I live close enough (walking distance) to fresh markets that I can buy fresh veggies and fruit as needed. Lots of great information though.

  4. Anonymous says

    You inspired me to finally do something about my disorganized fridge. I love your idea of produce boxes, so I moved yogurt/dairy into one crisper drawer and meat into the other. Then I ditched the meat drawer to add more space. I've been prepping the fruit and veggies before I put them in the boxes, and it saves do much time later…and we're eating a lot more fresh produce, probably because it's all ready and looks yummy. I'm still figuring out what to do if everything won't fit in the boxes, or how to stash stuff in the fridge before it's prepped. Our fridge is really too small for our family of 5, and I shop for produce every few days. But this system is really helping! Thanks so much for the great idea, I love your blog!

  5. Anonymous says

    I was wondering what type of labels you used for your produce boxes & if they have remained intact during dishwashing? I love these ideas & would like to also label individual reusable water bottles for the kiddos. Thanks!

    • Mary says

      I wash and dry the boxes by hand. When I have used labels on my jars in the past and then put them through the dishwasher, the lettering does tend to fade off the labels. I have a pretty standard Brothers brand label maker. I think the tapes are M-tapes.

  6. Pam Scozzari says

    I was inspired also! Got up; went over- totally cleaned out entire fridge using this method. I too, was upset about fruits & vegetables spoiling. I already had the produce boxes. Yes,those 2 huge bins are useless. Definitely thinking "outside the box."

  7. Becka says

    Love this idea! I gave up my crisper drawers a few years ago & replaced them with small open baskets, and it's been going really well. However, I don't prep the produce on any kind of regular basis. My favorite part of this post is your idea to put out your ready-to-eat fruits & veggies, along with a few nuts & cheese cubes for pre-dinner appetizers. By doing this, you could cut back on the amount of meat & carbs consumed in the dinner meal, while increasing the amount of fresh produce… a great alternative to the everyday salad! Thanks so much for your inspiration! A little prep work really does go a long way. 😉

  8. SoCalGal52 says

    Love the idea, but doubt I'll get it done.
    However, I have been doing this in my freezer for years: bell pepper, onions, green onions- ready to go when I need them.
    Also in my pantry – a must to keep the creepers out of my dry goods!
    Thanks for posting this.

  9. Pleased as Punch says

    I'm actually kicking myself right now. Recently, I had wrapped green onions in paper towels so that they would last longer than 5 minutes in my fridge before turning to goo.

    It is just TRAINING myself to do all it. And getting the Tupperware….trip to Target,anyone?

  10. Polly Oz says

    I've been doing the plastic box thing, but use vacuum sealing ones. They keep fruit and veg fresher, longer, but they are so expensive I don't have as many as I'd like. The sealing machine lives in on overhead cupboard so it is convenient to just snake down the hose that plugs into the top of the box. Before I moved the machine to make it convenient I didn't tend to re vacuum after removing food from the box. As a one person household, the vacuum boxes allow me to keep food long enough to get through it before it deteriorates.

    Great site, thank you!

  11. Audrey Greenwood says

    Now that's an innovative idea for using lunch boxes! I would have never thought it would be more efficient really – back home in Sydney I try to buy fresh produce as close to the day I’m going to use them rather than keep them at home.