You went to the store and bought some of the yummiest looking produce and refrigerated foods with all the best intentions to make delicious meals. A couple of weeks pass and then…“Oh no! I didn’t see that back there!” You find a once-beautiful squash now blackened and mushy in the back of your fridge. You didn’t really “forget” about it, but rather just couldn’t see it because your fridge is a cluttered mess. It’s enough to make you want to cry! A refrigerator organization FAIL!
A disorganized fridge can result in practically throwing money down the drain and feeling frustrated by the thought of wasting food.
These 7 AWESOME refrigerator organization tips can help you organize your fridge in a way that helps you reduce waste and avoid throwing your money down the drain.
Tip #1 Pull everything out
Before you get into organizing, empty your refrigerator completely and wipe it down. You’ll be much more motivated and you’ll be able to see what you have to work with. Cleaning your fridge inside and out is a great way to reset your mind and get you into the organizing mood.
Wipe down your shelves (remove and wash) and clean all around them. I moved my refrigerator out and swept underneath it. Yuck! It was really dusty but on the plus side, I found one of our dog Cosmo’s first report cards from doggy daycare back there, so that was nice.
While you have everything out of the refrigerator, take time to check expiration dates and throw out anything that’s already icky. Group together any items that are close to their expiration before putting anything back into your fridge.
We’re going to talk about one tip to help you use these things first in a bit.
Realistically, very few people will do this step weekly (which is ideal) but you should do it regularly. Put it on your calendar to remind you if needed.
Here is some GREAT all-purpose cleaner you can make yourself!
Tip #2 – Food safety first!
Even more important than convenience and organization is food safety.
If you have a family including vegetarians/vegans and omnivores, it’s important to store any meats on the bottom shelf so they won’t drip down and cross-contaminate any other food.
To ensure they stay cold, eggs should be kept on a middle or lower-level shelf in the fridge, as opposed to on the door. The refrigerator door is the warmest part of the fridge, so only condiments should go there.
While many people do keep eggs or milk on the door, they really should be placed in a colder part of the refrigerator.
The ideal temperature for your fridge is between 35 and 38 degrees, as bacteria quickly start to form above this temperature.
Crisper drawers are best for produce as they control humidity and keep your veggies fresh longer.
Tip #3 – FIFO
FIFO stands for “first in first out.” This means that what you put in first should go out first. Read on for a couple of tips to help you perfect your FIFO skills.
During your regular refrigerator organization and clean-out, place non-produce items that will be expiring soon in a bin labeled “Eat First”. Then, when you’re planning meals or just looking for a snack, you’ll know which foods to use first.
This won’t work for vegetables and fruits, however, because they should remain in a crisper drawer.
If you don’t have a bin, keep foods with short expiration dates toward the front of their respective section in the fridge. Just keep in mind that the more people who are in and out of the refrigerator, the harder this method will be!
If you find produce that is “short on time,” Peas and Carrots member Jacqueline Keena suggests to “Make soup, freeze fruits and veggies that are getting to their limits, or stir fry!”
Tip #4 – Labels
You don’t have to buy fancy labels to keep your refrigerator organized. We keep masking tape and a sharpie in a drawer by the fridge to add dates to leftovers. As Megan Saluga of Our Peas and Carrots Group says, “This means you don’t have to play the sniff guess game to determine if something is good.”
Tip #5 – Stay organized with containers
There are plenty of baskets and organizers made specifically for refrigerators, but you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to get yours in shape! Just make sure that whatever containers you’re using are clear so that you can see what’s in them.
Because you’re storing food in them, BPA-free is also preferable. We found some really cool ones on Amazon from mDesign that are BPA and Chlorine free. We’ll link to their page on Amazon so you can check out what they have available.
Bins are great to help you store items that tend to get lost in your fridge, like Larissa’s apple sauce cups.
Drawer dividers can be used to separate produce in crisper drawers.
And don’t forget about a lazy Susan to maximize space and make finding items easier.
Tip #6 Store like items together
This ties in to tip #5. Place similar items together in the same bin and/or create “zones” within your fridge to store certain items (e.g., drinks shelf, cheese shelf). Also, consider creating your own “grab-n-go” or “snack station” section.
Tip #7 Use a whiteboard
Use a small whiteboard on your fridge to keep track of what produce is inside and what needs to be eaten first. Larissa created one for us several years ago, but we’ve gotten away from using it.
It did serve as a good reminder (for as long as we remembered to update it!), and we plan to reinstate it to help us eat more and waste less.
Here is the whiteboard we use:
We hope this episode has provided you with some refrigerator organization inspiration to help you maximize space, waste less food, and stop throwing away your hard-earned cash.
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Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa