Tips for Organizing the Fridge

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Keeping your refrigerator clean and organized can help you save money, waste less, and enjoy cooking.

The refrigerator is probably one of the most used appliances in any household. What other appliance runs 24/7?

Those refrigerators are trouble makers, though. They tell other people about your habits. They are notorious for becoming a mammoth cleaning chore, especially if you don’t do it on a regular basis.

Over the last year, I’ve found that I really have to stay on top of the fridge organization. Refrigerator clutter (aka leftovers) cannot accumulate.

If I want to make Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes, I need space to store the dough. If I want to chill the vegetables and fruits we receive from our produce co-op, I need space for them. If I want to thaw freezer meals properly and in enough advance time to actually cook them when I want them, I need room!

So, I’ve worked out a little system that works for me. I don’t have any fancy diagrams or methods. Just dividing things according to shelves.

  • Top Shelf: milk, cream, half and half, other beverages
  • Shelf #2:ย Food to thaw, excess produce
  • Shelf #3: Leftovers or food to thaw
  • Shelf #4: ย Other dairy like yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese
  • Drawers, there are three: Deli (cheese and meats), Fruit, Vegetables
  • Door: Eggs at the top, canned beverages (if any), condiments (of which we apparently have many)

By keeping the refrigerator somewhat organized, I can find the foods that I need, ingredients don’t get lost and therefore go to waste, and cooking is easier and more fun.

Do you have a special way that you organize the refrigerator?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Oh how I would love a refrigerator like that! Unfortunately, I have yet to train my peeps to put anything back where they found it.

    • Gen says

      @Cherish, Oh Cherish, That drives me nuts also. Some people are just untrainable! Seems that I move stuff back where it should be EVERY time I open the fridge.

  2. Yeah, I have specific spots for everything as well. And I agree, the drawers are never big enough (why are they so tiny?! we actually got our fridge because they looked huge but it was just an illusion!) for extra produce when the farmers market is open, and I want to do the bread in 5 minutes! I just discovered it the other day. wondering if this lidded mixing bowl i have is big enough, and once it’s finished rising, if the lid can be put on tight, will figure all that out.

  3. brandy says

    i miss my side by side terribly. The big bottom-fridge refrigerators waste so much space. We generally pack in all sorts of milk (dairy and non dairy) on the big bottom shelf, yogurts and kid snacks in bottom left drawer, big people snacks in bottom right. Most of the top shelf is taken up by condiments (pickles, peppers, olives). Cheese goes in the cheese drawer. The doors have even more condiments (we have a condiments issue and we are trying to consolidate). The bulk of our fridge is devoted to produce, which i prep and store in tupperware fridgesmarts for easy stacking, and that gets stacked wherever. We just got a fridgebinz for putting soda cans in and it takes up less room and probably works better than the traditional soda can dispenser.

    We are having a slow time with our pantry challenge. We haven’t gotten off course, we are just going through everything very slowly. The kids seem to be eating half as much as they were, our nanny (way more awesome and much less expensive than daycare) is on a diet, and so are we!

  4. I loosely follow something similar but the favourite thing I do in my own fridge is to use a lazy susan in there. On the top shelf where stuff can get shoved to the back (we have an upside down fridge and the configuration is a bit weird) I popped a plastic lazy susan so that I can whizz it around when I need something. I love it! It works brilliantly (I use lazy susan’s in my pantry too). I found a wooden one at Ikea for my pantry and I have found a few plastic ones at thrift stores. They have been good Rubbermaid ones that I have purchased for pennies.

    • Maureen says

      @Catherine, I have multiple lazy susan’s in my pantry, which really helps with the deep shelves. I’ll have to see if that might work in my fridge. Great idea. I also have designations for each shelf in the fridge. This really helps my kids remember and have easy access to their healthy snacks. My problem is that when I stock-up on something, then the overflow shifts things and it spirals out of control from there. I need to recover faster. I’m trying to have one shelf for all overflow to see if that helps.

    • Kelly says

      @Catherine, Love the lazy susan idea in the fridge-would be great for the spot wehre I have about 5-7 different types of pickles!

  5. Stefanie says

    I was just thinking about this last night as I was cleaning out our fridge. We had some specific spots for some stuff but now everything will have a spot of its own.

  6. 8sigh8
    This just reminded me that one of my summer holiday jobs is to clean the fridge. better get onto it – I have less than 2 weeks left.

  7. Heidi L says

    I don’t use my drawers for produce because it freezes everything I put in there, I can’t figure out the humidity controls. Any help on that front would be wonderful because I just put drinks in there now and my fridge is a nightmare.

    • Jessica says

      Have you downloaded the owner’s manual from the manufacturer’s site? That might help. Or email or tweet them.

  8. Susan says

    Do you have any tips for organizing a pantry and/or cupboards? I struggle with that so badly and am always re-arranging. My poor family can never find anything! I love your ideas for the fridge…so simple and practical.

  9. Stacy says

    We either have the same fridge or a very similar one because my setup is almost exactly the same, minus the can holders in the door. I organize it almost exactly like yours too. Trippy! The very bottom drawer I use to store nuts, raisins, and other dry granola-y sorts of things. Even though you’re not supposed to, I put onions and potatoes in there too. I’ve never figured out how to make them last any other way and this works for me. Otherwise they’re moldy faster than I can use them.

  10. Raquel says

    i heard you shouldn’t keep eggs in the door even if there’s “egg spots”.

    • Jessica says

      @Raquel, yeah, I’ve heard that, too. Usually we go through them so fast, I don’t worry about it. But, you are right. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Cyn says

    I teach food safety and would just like to mention that if you are thawing meat, it should go on the lowest shelf possible. Even if you place the package on a plate or something, some meat juices can sometimes drip down and contaminate any food you have below it.

  12. jan says

    hmmm…that’s a pretty clean looking fridge! I know where ‘most’ things are in the fridge but I suppose it would be most helpful if there was a system so everyone else could follow along!

  13. Harriet says

    Today hubby and I took everything out of the fridge, checked all dates, combined jars of the same thing (mustard and Italian dressing), washed the glass shelves, and put everything back in by category. It looks and smells wonderful and nothing falls out now when you reach for something else.

  14. Melissa says

    I just lined my fridge with glad press and seal. I found the tip on Pinterest, not sure if I like it yet or not. If you don’t lift something before you pull it out (ie. a gallon of milk) it messes up the press and seal a bit. I have 4 adults and 1 child in the house and the other three grownups have no common sense. They don’t put anything back where it belongs and have on more than one occasion put leaking packages of bacon in the drawer with fresh veggies. When I get some printer ink I am going to type up the fridge rules,

  15. Emily says

    We had an overstock of half-used condiments, since my mom cleared her “picnic” supplies and gave them all to us! So, I repurposed a plastic bin from the dollar store to hold them. The big things (mayo) don’t fit, but they can sit on the wire shelf & not fall over, like the mustard did. So, now I’m paring down to just what fits in that basket & getting rid of the others. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My only other tip is to put the milk in the coldest place. Mine is on the top shelf (I have a top freezer/bottom fridge and so this is right under the freezer coils) and it really helps it stay fresh. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Good luck organizing!

  16. Marla says

    We have had the shelves & bins labelled for about a month now, and it seems to be working well. Two shelves for produce, a shelf for pickles and baking supplies (each in its own pull-out bin), a shelf labelled “eat soon” for leftovers or near-to-best-before-date items, a shelf for drinks, a pull out snack tray, and a designated area on a bottom shelf for thawing foods. Three bins: one “deli” (cheeses & the like), one “breakfast” (eggs, jams, syrup), and one “fruits and dried food”. On the door, one shelf section for stir fry and sauces, one for pasta (parm cheese, pesto sauce etc), one for salad dressings, and one for sandwich fixings (mayo, ketchup, mustard etc).

  17. June Combs says

    I wipe out and pitch just before i go to the grocery store? Also i saw a lady on tv cover the top of her fridge with plastic wrap so she doesnt have to clean it, just change the wrap? I deffinitely dont like cleaning the top of the frig??? :-):-):-)

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