I know some of my family members could benefit from a few refrigerator organization tips. I visited my aunt a few years ago and laughed out loud at the size of her tiny, almost bar sized fridge. How could she get anything into that? Well, never mind that they don’t refrigerate things like eggs, and that milk is still delivered daily in her village. She dealt with the tiny fridge by only shopping as needed. No Costco trek for that lady. So her fridge was never chock-a-block with rotting lettuce or wilting trays of strawberries that she bought for only $1.
It seems the bigger our refrigerators get, the more likely it is that food will fall into the black hole of its maw, never to reappear before becoming a slimey science project. Or worse, something that explodes in the very back, leaving a trickle of goo and a powerful odour that only a full emptying of all the shelves will reveal the source of.
Refrigerator Organization Tips
But you can save yourself from being attacked by the thing that oozed with some easy hacks on keeping your fridge and freezer organized and well stocked!
1. Start with a full clean out
It’s much easier to organize if you’re starting from a clean slate! So add ‘emptying the fridge’ to your Spring cleaning list and get everything out and sorted. Regardless of how you want to organize your fridge, keep these things in mind:
- The bottom of the fridge is the coldest part, so it is the best place for easy to spoil items like yogurt, raw meats and fish.
- The top part of the fridge is much warmer and so it’s more suited to drinks, ready to eat items (deli meat, for example), breads and leftovers.
- Use the crispers for fruits and veggies: that’s what they’re designed for! However, out of sight is out of mind, so make sure you check them regularly for items that are beginning to spoil.
- The back of the fridge is colder than the front, thanks to the never ending opening of the door by the various residents in your home, so store easy to spoil items towards the back.
- The door is the least cold place, again thanks to the air rushing around every time it’s opened, so put condiments and harder to spoil items there.
2. Put soon to expire things up front or in a box
This is a great notion: put a plastic bin on the main shelf and label it “TO BE EATEN FIRST!” On a weekly basis, you can go through your fruits, veggies, or other fridge items to see what’s starting to wilt or is on the brink of the best before date. Put those items in the bin: it will force not only your family, but you to think of those items first when rummaging through the fridge for a snack or a meal idea.
3. Create a snack box
If you’re trying to keep your kids out of the candy cupboard or cookie jar, make snacks easy to find and get to in the fridge by placing them in a snack box or tray. Label it and leave it. The idea here is that the kids won’t shift EVERYTHING around in the fridge—a nice way of saying ‘make a mess’—in their search for yogurt tubes or whatever it is they want to snack on.
4. Create dividers in your chest freezer
Okay, while not technically the fridge, if there ever was a black hole for food, it’s the chest freezer. Things go sliding down to the bottom, never to be seen again until you unplug it to move or you have an epic power outage that makes it absolutely necessary to actually dig to the bottom! The idea here is to put plastic bins or magazine holders in your chest, to create dividers. Place like with like: bread with buns, fries with wedges, burgers with steak… you get the picture! In your fridge freezer, you can do the same thing except use baskets or magazine holders turned on their sides, creating extra shelving and dividers.
5. Labeled baskets for everything!
If you tend to make the costly mistake of buying more of something because you didn’t see that you already had some in the fridge, one way to avoid that is to put baskets in the fridge too. They’re easy to slide forward and look into, and they keep the foods sorted however you wish to sort them. The goal here is narrow and long baskets that will permit you to efficiently use the depth of the fridge, without losing items at the very back!
6. Keep an at-a-glance list of your freezer contents
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what everything is in the freezer. Labels fall off, freezer frost gets in the way. But if you keep a chalkboard stuck to the lid or nearby, with a list of the contents, you can check it quickly before going to the grocery store, to see if there is something you really need or something you already have four of and should avoid, no matter how good the sale price is.
7. Get lazy… A Lazy Susan, that is
A lazy susan on the top shelf, to store jars, containers or other items make them far easier to see and retrieve. Visibility is half the reason some items don’t get eaten! A quick spin of the wheel and you can see everything that is available to you without reaching, pulling, shoving and possibly spilling!
8. Forget flat chicken, how about flat soup?
We tend to store things like soup in round or rectangular plastic containers but these take up a lot of space. Another option is to use ziploc bags, freeze them flat and stack them or store them vertically in… you guessed it, a basket! You can do this with soup, stews, and sauces.
While my aunt might have had the right idea in terms of buying fresh ingredients as needed, the reality of being busy day to day means needing to be a little craftier with our planning and organizing.
Do you have any awesome hacks for keeping your fridge or freezer in order?