If you crave tidiness and order, your refrigerator may be a source of grudge. With a family, organizing your fridge likely gets a low priority. On top of that, your fridge and freezer likely get a barrage of new items every day. Keeping this organized and clean can be quite a chore, especially when you have a list of half-used containers taking up space.
If you have been to the bastions of organization, Pinterest, and Instagram, you have likely seen photos of well-organized fridges without any sign of bulky packaging. Like full level 10 colorful produce, eggs in sleek, clear containers, and a place for everything.
If you dream of your fridge being this orderly, that is great. You can achieve blissful refrigerated storage by drawing inspiration from the unlikely place of the kitchen pantry.
Don't be a Food Horder
The first step of organizing your fridge is actually to clean it out. Do you have multiple pickles, salsa, or mustard containers in your refrigerator? If so, let's purge the chaos in your life by clearing the clutter.
Have a cooler ready to store your perishable items while cleaning the fridge. Then remove everything and give the interior a thorough cleaning. One of the benefits of sound organization systems in the fridge is that they will help keep your fridge's interior clean. Take advantage of this step because it is a moot point to have an organized fridge if all the shelves still have ketchup and unidentified meat juice splatter.
While you are cleaning your fridge out, it is time to pitch some of the unnecessary items. Did you get a condiment you tried a few years ago and still need to finish it? Simplify your life and throw this away! It is time to declutter the inside of your fridge.
Store Like Items Next To Each Other
Our methodology for organizing the fridge involves sorting similar items together. For example, it will be disorganized if you have one yogurt container in the door, one on the top shelf, and another milling about behind the milk.
So work on sorting out your items to have coherent categories. Dressings, cheeses, condiments, produce, etc., would be stored near each other.
Store Fruits And Vegetables Properly
Fruits and vegetables often get thrown in a pile in the refrigerator's drawers. Knowing how to store fruits and vegetables properly can help keep them fresher for longer.
The crisper drawer can help keep your perishables from spoiling. Is it better to put your produce in the low or high-humidity setting? Placement depends on what type of food it is. For items that tend to rot, it is typically better to put them in the low-humidity setting. For items that typically wilt, it is better to keep them on the high-humidity side.
It is a good idea to leave whole fruits in a bowl for easier access and to be more top of mind. The idea is to keep your perishables toward the front of the refrigerator.
Leftovers in the Middle
Leftovers, especially entire meals you plan on eating a specific day, should be stored toward the middle. This location will maintain the line of sight to the produce and other foods you are trying to eat first.
Invest in high-quality airtight food containers to preserve food in your fridge the best. The odors from taco night will be less likely to be noticeable in your milk. Thanks to the airtight containers. Glass food storage containers are a good option for leftovers because they are less susceptible to issues when you reheat your food.
Storing Meat Safely in The Fridge
The best place for meats in the fridge is the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf will be the coldest location in almost all refrigerators. The other benefit of storing meat on the bottom shelf is that one will eventually leak out of its container. It will not drip on produce or other items to cross-contaminate.
I recommend having thermometers in your refrigerator, so you know how cold your food is. I had a refrigerator that started to lose its refrigeration power. It happened over a few weeks. When I finally noticed something was weird, that the milk did not seem as cold as it should be, it was too late. I tested the temperature of a liquid in the refrigerator to be in the upper 40s. All the food in the refrigerator could make us sick at that point.
Beverages on The Top
The top shelf is an excellent location to put beverages. Except for the milk carton, they are some of the least perishable items in the refrigerator. I recommend getting a can dispenser for your sodas or soda water.
A gallon container of milk is an organizational oddball. From a preservation perspective, the best location for it is the back of the bottom shelf. Realistically, loading milk in and out from behind stuff every time you want to use it would be terrible. There is only one shelf that is tall enough in most refrigerators. So the compromise is usually to put it there.
Organizing Kids Snacks
Giving your kids access to healthy snacks that they will eat is a universal dream of parents. How do you achieve this? By putting the whole fruits, yogurts, nuts, etc., you want your kids to eat front and center at their eye level. Dedicating a bin to children's snacks is a great idea.
You can also put long items like string cheese or yogurt pouches in containers to keep them upright in the refrigerator door.
Get Rid of The Store-Bought Containers
The food packaging that came with the food when you bought it can be pretty bulky. Food packaging takes up the same amount of space in your fridge, whether full or mostly consumed.
Most organizing tips recommend getting clear containers for eggs as well. They say it is nice to see how many eggs are remaining without having to open the container. Visually, this is more aesthetic, but I wonder if I can get behind this trend. I want to save you time here, not create the task of moving eggs from one carton to another every time you go to the grocery.
Using meal prep containers to divide your meals and snacks into grab-and-go containers can help minimize food waste by encouraging you and your family to eat the food in the fridge.
The Last Bastion of Organization: Containers
I get it. Bringing more plastic bins into your life is not your favorite idea. You have plenty of plastic already. Plastic storage bins can help dramatically with your fridge organization. There are plenty of options for customization and to meet your preferences.
If your fridge does not have drawers, you can add drawers with storage containers. There are several types of drawers and drawer dividers available to choose. Dividers can help you organize your food. However, you must ensure you are not limiting your usage options too much by overly segmenting your space.
You will want to select BPA-free plastic or glass containers, especially for bins your food will have direct contact.
Utilizing Ziploc bags can also help you keep your fridge organized. Ziploc bags can be suitable for storing prepared veggies, etc.
Getting rid of the store-bought packaging and opting for clean, clear bins with the stark white refrigerator interior can leave things looking too sterile. To combat this, I recommend buying one decorative container. Adding a wicker or woven basket to your fridge can dramatically change the vibe whenever you open the door.
Stack those Bins
Stacking your storage bins will help you maximize your vertical space in the refrigerator. After all, what would be the good of having storage bins if you pile other stuff on top of them?
There are many options for stackable storage bins. Do you want stacked drawers that slide out? Do you want dividers?
How To Organize The Door
Most refrigerators have a spot for a gallon of milk in the door. Unfortunately, the door is not a good location for the milk because it is the most susceptible to temperature changes from opening and closing the door. So how should you organize the refrigerator door?
I recommend storing condiments, dressings, butter, and jars of snacks in the door. You can utilize some cubbies to conquer the issue of keeping similar items together.
If you are like me, you have a go-to list of condiments you get out every time you make a sandwich. Storing the mayo, pickles, mustard, and ketchup in the same bin that I can pull out and put away in one motion might not be life-altering. But there was the consideration, so it is safe to say it is a big deal.
Another option for frequently used condiments is the Lazy Susan. It is another idea taken from pantry storage options. It helps prevent the age-old problem of pickles getting slid to the back of the refrigerator. Someone opens another jar, and before you know it, you have three jars of pickles open in the refrigerator.
Put a Label on It
To help you get organized, you should label your bins. Labels are good for getting your organization started. It also assists other family members identifyijng where things go when refilling empty containers.
It is best to keep the labels a bit generic. Rather than labeling a bin for apples, it probably is better to label it fruit. Either way, your helping avoid a cluttered bin that ends up with apples, a yogurt container, and a can of soda by labeling it. At least, that is the aspiration.
Liners are Your Friend
A liner will help keep your fridge clean. I do admit I was not too fond of the idea of using liners. They are visually the antithesis of what I am trying to achieve. You can buy specially made liners for the refrigerator. I prefer a clean linen towel folded.
Liners are excellent in the produce drawers in case some fruit leaks, and it is not sitting in its moisture, causing it to rot.
Don't Forget the Freezer
Optimizing your freezer storage is also essential. Bins can help in much the same way they do for refrigerators. Failure to organize the freezer will result in things getting pushed to the back and then getting freezer burned before you remember to eat them.
TLDR: Bins Are your Friend For Fridge Organization
Fridge organization can seem like a daunting task. It becomes much more approachable if you break it down into a few coherent steps. First, clean and declutter, then get some bins to use as organizers. Then start going to town. Remember, you should work iteratively and improve your organization as time goes on.