Once we started practicing The Minimalist Kitchen framework for the pantry, it just naturally overflowed to the fridge. We did a better job of buying what we could consume before expiration, which ultimately led to less waste. But, no matter what we did, we couldn’t get that box of lettuce or that clamshell of berries to last the whole week. Nor could we figure out how to control the chaos of the fridge drawers.
This post was created in an ongoing partnership with OXO, the brand I lean on in the kitchen. Their products just work. They’re smart, functional, and affordable.
There are so many ecosystems in the fridge
It’s true. The apples should be stored away from the leafy greens and the lemons away from the carrots. But it’s really hard to keep everything straight and separate. Enter the Green Saver Produce Keepers. They create individual ecosystems that allow you to control the humidity within the container.
For example—open for berries, closed for spinach. If you can’t remember whether to keep it open or closed (which is me every time), pull off the white filter cover, and you’ll find a cheat sheet. Each container is also equipped with a carbon filter (read more below on how this works).
I was leery that these containers would keep their promise, but so far we have yet to throw out any raspberries or spinach, two things that died well before their time in our fridge. Look at that week-old, crisp spinach! Here’s how it works. The produce sits in a basket within the container, which is great for two things—airflow and keeping moisture away from the produce, two causes for premature rot. If you don’t believe me, read the Amazon reviews.
If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend buying either a medium (4.3 qt) or large (5 qt) GreenSaver for for leafy greens and a small container (1.6 qt) for berries. After you fall in love, you can add more depending on the space in your fridge.
The Carbon Filter
Fridge technology is improving overnight. Even though better preservation technology exists, we can’t all run out to get the newest fridge. Enter the $5.99 OXO Crisper Insert. The carbon filter helps to absorb the ethylene levels that your produce is naturally giving off. This helps to slow the ripening process and give that produce a couple extra days of life.
Note: Filters need replacing every 3 months. The insert has a slider so you can denote the month it needs replacing. So smart.
Fresh Herbs Aren’t an Oxymoron
Is it possible to keep living herbs fresh longer than a day? Yes, and it’s called the Herb Keeper. It’s a similar container to the OXO produce containers, with an added fill line for water. Fresh herbs are thirsty and need a bit of water to stay alive. I used to keep my fresh herbs in a glass jar filled with water and covered with a plastic produce bag. It worked OK, but was unsightly and often tipped over in the fridge. The cilantro and curly parsley I keep on the regular have held up so well in the Herb Keeper.
Note: Replace the water every couple of days and remove rotten herbs to prevent widespread decay. If your herbs are too tall for the container, chop the ends. In fact, do that either way. Most drink water in the same way that flowers do.
Controlling Drawer Chaos
Kitchen drawers, even the fridge variety, don’t work all that well without dividers. A little division helps to bring order to the natural chaos. I had planned on using OXO expandable dividers elsewhere in our house, but added one to a crisper drawer on a whim and it worked! Designate a purpose for either side of the divider. For example, I’ve place whole, unused produce up front and cut produce (like the other half of the onion or the remnants of ginger) on the other side. I’ve added a divider to the cheese drawer as well.
We also have one really large drawer in our fridge that takes a thorough digging to find what you’re looking for. So I’ve added clear bins to give the drawer (and myself) some guidance. I’ve also used the bins throughout the fridge to wrangle similar things, like butter boxes. Compartmentalize where it makes sense.
OXO Green Savers: Small (1.6 qt) Medium (4.3 qt), Large (5 qt) | OXO Crisper Insert| OXO Herb Keeper | OXO expandable dividers | Fridge Containers: Long (5.43″ x 14.5″), Square (6.94″ x 10.5″)
For more kitchen organizing posts, check out The Minimalist Pantry Part 1 and 2 and Minimal Cabinets and Drawers. For a comprehensive guide to creating and cooking from a minimalist kitchen, pre-order my book The Minimalist Kitchen (out April 10, 2018).
Do you mind telling me what size and brand of fridge youhave. Thanks!
We have the Bosch counter-depth fridge with french doors. It has a water dispenser inside the fridge which we love!
This looks fantastic. We recently purchased a second refrigerator/freezer for our basement and it clearly doesn’t work as well as our better model upstairs in keeping produce fresh. It’s getting to the point that I might as well not buy extra produce if it’s just going to rot after a few days!
How often do you have to replace the carbon filters? hopefully they last a few months?
It’s so frustrating to toss good produce! I feel you. The filters last 3 months, so they need replacing 4 times a year.
Thank you! Sorry – I just noticed you had a note stating that above one of your pictures. I had overlooked it the first time.
Great post Melissa! We are bare bones minimalist in our house as well as the pantry too. I have been looking at these OXO containers for the fridge but was suspect if they would really work. Ordering now…
This was so helpful. Can you talk about the left drawer too? Like the cheeses and such? Will you cover the freezer too?
Oh, I hadn’t thought about the freezer. As for the cheese drawer, I’m testing out a cheese container that supposed to prolong life. I’ll report back!
Beautiful, inspiring fridge! Where can I purchase the containers that hold the pickled onions, jam, etc…glass with white lids? Thanks!
Those are just wide-mouth Ball jars with their new BPA-free one-piece lids. I store smaller dried goods and leftovers in them!
Love this so much! It makes me want to start all over and reorganize my fridge, which is usually such a disaster!
Is it April 10 yet?!? Can’t wait to get my copy!
I could hug you!
Hi! What a gorgeous kitchen you have.
Where are your lovely cabinets from? Could you share the details? Can’t seem to be able to search your site and actually find the info. Thanks!
Hi Diana! Thank you! Brownsmith Restoration, our builder, worked with Berhausen Designs to have them built. They are both in the Twin Cities area.
This is all great info! Thank you! Do you wash your berries before storing or do you wait to wash until right before you use them?
I wait until right before eating. Water will break them down unless they can completely dry out before storing. Also, this might be crazy, but I rarely wash my berries ?
OMG I don’t really wash my berries either. STILL ALIVE!!
Melissa, Love this, and everything you share! Thank you. I used to do the same with berries… Until I read the book “Eat Wild”, which gives lots of tips for picking and storing produce to maximize nutrition/freshness. The author recommends soaking/rinsing berries in a water vinegar solution before storing. I was skeptical, but this has greatly extended the life of my berries (especially raspberries!!!). I know this is an old question, but this was such an amazing solution for me.