Calming The Refrigerator Chaos

Is your fridge a place of peace or chaos? Probably it’s a place of piece. A piece of this and a piece of that. I don’t like clutter inside or out of my fridge. First, we’ll talk about the inside.

Refrigerators are such a necessity in our kitchens yet so easy to just plop stuff inside and shut the door to clutter. After all, who enjoys cleaning out the refrigerator?! A long time ago when I was a girl at home, my mom and I had a brainstorm to start a business of cleaning out refrigerators for people! Lol! It never materialized of course. It’s not my favorite job and since I detest clutter, I strive to maintain my fridge, instead of having a complete clean out a few times a year.

Having designated spots for regular items is a big help! It’s rather a no brainer to keep small items such as syrups, salad dressings, jams and condiments in the door shelves. I keep a small basket on the second shelf for eggs. It’s very handy to have them out of the carton and just reach in and grab the amount I need. Or if I need a bunch, the whole basket comes out.

A good investment for me has been two clear organizing boxes that I bought at TJ Max years ago. I always keep the largest one on the second shelf for my vegetables. I like to wash and prep my veggies, put them in bags and into this veggie bin. It holds a lot because I can pile it high. When I want to fix a salad I grab the whole container and have all I need in one swift load! Besides, I love having my veggies prepped before hand! Although it does take time when I get home from the store. If I have excess vegetables, I keep extras in one of the fridge drawers until I’m ready to wash them and place in the vegetable bin.

I keep a second clear box in the first fridge drawer for apples, lemons or other bigger fruits. (I keep it in the drawer only because I barely have enough room for a second box on a shelf) Small fruits like grapes or blueberries get washed and placed in a bowl and just set on the shelf. I like to put a paper towel or small cloth in the bottom of the bowl to absorb the excess water and moisture. I keep a basket or bowl on the bar for fruits that don’t need refrigerated. The other picture is just washed produce. I like how pretty and colorful it looks! We eat a lot of fresh foods, so that is why I keep talking about my fruits and vegetables.

I like to keep my fridge drawers categorized too. Besides my fruit bin in the first drawer, I keep cheese, bacon grease, leftover frosting or other small, not often used items. The other two drawers are for extras when I get home from shopping. I place things in there like, extra butter or milk, extra vegetables, sour cream, yogurt and such. In the winter when we have citrus fruits, I keep a drawer just for that.

Now for the shelves. I like to keep leftovers on the top or second shelf but I admit it doesn’t always stay like that. The bottom shelf I keep for taller items like milk or drink pitchers.

My fridge still can get messy! But I find it’s better to stay on top of things; wiping up lil spills or smears immediately and keeping tabs on those leftovers so they don’t rot, way back in the boonys of refrigerization! Two more clarifications. When I get company, my fridge gets full and cluttered and normal requirements get banned, because there’s extra food and I need to manage to fit it all in somehow, because I don’t have a second fridge! Also, I know we don’t have a large family where there’s way more food and people in the kitchen, and where things don’t stay as mom would like it to stay! That would make a big difference I’m sure, but maybe this can still give you ideas on organizing that big cold box!

Now for the outside. My fridge does not have a magnetic front so that keeps things off for sure! I love the clean look of nothing on the front! I do have some things on the sides, but it’s not my main place to keep pictures of friends or lists or reminders.

My white board I like to jot down those little jobs or reminders. Very handy and it can easily be erased once completed. I hate cluttery papers, notes and lists all over my fridge. I put many tips, some recipes I like to keep handy or lists inside my cabinet doors. This is also where I tape up my two month menu calendar. It’s wonderful because it’s not a constant eyesore to me, yet conveniently accessible because I’m always opening the cabinet doors for dishes! If it’s a list I want to make sure I notice more, such as Sunday host schedule, I tape it inside a door that gets opened ALOT. And I highlight our name, but for safety purposes, I still write it in my planner by the date we’re on to host! Most of the other church related lists, I tape on the inside of the office door, which is right off the kitchen. On the outside of that door, is where I put up the pictures of friends and family. I love this set up. It’s easy for people to look at the pictures when we get company and then the inside of the door hides all those lists, but handy to look at when needed!

This is the office door of pictures on the outside and two of my inside cabinet doors. Do you see how cluttered that door on the left is?! It could use a cleaning up I know! But it doesn’t bother me near as much with it being hid from view.

On Stevia and Sweeteners

🌿 After my last blog post on mint tea using stevia, I had several requests about the stevia or where to get it. So today I’d like to share with you the stevia and sweeteners I use and what I like. I’m not making claims on certain products, but just what I’ve found works for us and what I feel are safe to use.

It can look rather daunting when you first starting looking into using stevia or other sweeteners. One thing to be sure to check if your looking for a stevia is that there are no fillers or additives! Maltodextrin, dextrose, or fructose are all unhealthy ingredients that are sometimes used in cheap stevias. They take a small amount of stevia extract and mix it with a filler or two. How convenient for the marketers but not for our bodies! Maltodextrin is highly processed, usually made from corn, and is very high on the glycemic level, which means it spikes your blood sugar. Beware of these ingredients!

Some people declare the bad after taste and therefore hate all stevia. Yes, there are some with that after taste or can turn bitter if you use too much! I feel most of the ones I use have very little or no aftertaste. And too, your taste buds do adjust once you use these awhile. I’ve been using most of these for a number of years already so here’s what I like.

The Now Organic Stevia Extract Powder is an affordable, good stevia without fillers. It’s a very nice, fine powder. The Now Stevia Glycerite is another zero calorie sweetener but this is in liquid form. It’s base is vegetable glycerin, which is sweet alone and safe to use. (It’s also what is used to preserve many herbal tinctures) I love the Stevia Glycerite for sweetening drinks! It dissolves a bit easier than the powders and just does a good job. Nature’s Warehouse sells this but it’s called Better Stevia Liquid, but I think its the same thing. They also sell the Now Organic Better Stevia Extract Powder.

Trim Healthy Mama has a very good, pure, organic stevia powder. It is more pricy but is worth it. It has no fillers or additives. It is pretty clumpy so you have to be a little careful to not get too much in, because it comes out in clumps. This one can very easily get bitter if you use too much. Many people enjoy this stevia. You can buy it online or at Nature’s Warehouse.

Sweet Leaf Stevia Sweetener is another one that I feel is safe to use. I’ve used it some but do not have any on hand presently. This one could easily be found at a health food store or online.

More recently I’ve found out of a good stevia that comes from Bolivia. It’s called E.N.D. Stevia. But beware what you buy from Bolivia!! The Bolivian climate is an excellent place to grow stevia. The problem is, about 50% of the stevia from there is fake!! In fact, I had heard of and used just a little of another Bolivia stevia. It was shiny, white little crystals. I was pretty skeptical about it because of different things. So Jerald and I started researching and we came across this one blog that said enough to scare me! If you would like to read that article you can find it here.

The REAL stevia from Bolivia is in powder form and slightly green. Maybe you can see it in the pictures. It sweetens very well and I really like it! There is a definite difference in the two Bolivia stevias I tried. If you would like to purchase this stevia you can do so on Etsy.

I like to keep the powder stevias that I use the most, in small glass salt and pepper shakers. It’s so handy to just sprinkle in to my yogurt, shakes, smoothies etc. I freeze my fruits unsweetened and then when I get them out to use I let them thaw, then just sprinkle in to taste! “Just right!” says Amelia Bedelia 😂😂

Another sweetener combination I use is a mix of Erythritol, Xylitol and stevia. Erythritol and xylitol are both sugar alcohols that pass through your body without adversely affecting your blood sugar. Erythritol has a zero glycemic index and is easiest to digest. Xylitol is very low on the glycemic scale but can cause stomach discomfort. There is mixed research as to the positive and negatives of these sugar alcohols. I feel it’s fine in moderation, but would still feel stevia is a better choice. Both the Erythritol and xylitol can cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea but the xylitol is the worser culprit. That’s why I really like the following recipe because it uses less xylitol! This is great to use in baking because it adds bulk to substitute for the sugar. You can use it about anywhere you want to replace sugar. Be sure to buy Organic Non GMO. We buy the Erythritol and xylitol online at Amazon. Nature’s Warehouse also sells them as would most any health food stores.

Here is the recipe I use.

Simple Sweet

5 c. Erythritol

2 c. Xylitol

1 T. Better Stevia Extract Powder

2 T. Sweet Leaf Stevia Sweetner

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Store in airtight container. Use 1/3 cup to replace 1 cup sugar. Used with permission from Simple Foods cookbook.

I have already substituted Better Stevia for Sweet Leaf and it was fine.

If the 1/3 cup doesn’t make your food sweet enough, I would suggest adding in a bit of stevia to finish it off, till you get your desired sweetness.

I also use some Coconut sugar or honey in my baking. Coconut sugar is a healthy sugar with a lower glycemic level. It still raises your blood sugar some, but does not spike it like regular sugar. I feel it’s a very good, safe alternative, but if your trying to lose weight, I would be cautious in how much you consume. Coconut sugar can be found at Walmart.

Honey has a high glycemic index, however if it is raw, local honey, it still has health benefits. So again, if your trying to lose weight, I wouldn’t consume a lot, but is still a healthy sweetner. But Do Not buy Supermarket, pasteurized honey! It is much too likely it is mixed with high fructose corn syrup or some other additives. I read an article on this once, and I could definitely tell a difference between my store bought honey and the raw, local honey I use.

If you still don’t want to use any of these stevias or sweetners I suggested, you could at least use raw sugar. I buy the Zulka Morena Pure Cane Sugar in a green bag at Walmart. It is at least not quite as processed and bleached as regular old white sugar! But it’s still sugar! I use this for any regular baking/cooking for company or when I take food to gatherings. 🌿

🍰 Stop eating sugar, you are sweet enough already 🍫 🥰

🍯 Life is short and it’s up to you to make it sweet🌿 Sarah Louise Delany