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In this post: Your fridge, like every other area of your house, can benefit from regular cleaning and organization. Find out how to organize your fridge and keep it organized here.
Because it’s such a “high-traffic” area of your home, much like the pantry, the fridge can become a complete disaster in no time. But in this post, I’m going to show you how to organize your fridge so that it works for you and your family!
What is the Proper Way to Organize a Refrigerator?
The proper way to organize your fridge is the way that works for you.
But here’s a general guide for what to put where in your fridge based on temperature. As you’ll see, we follow this in part, but also make adjustments based on our fridge and our needs.
*These photos were taken towards the end of a week when we had already consumed much of our groceries. Our fridge is normally much more full.
Foods that don’t need cooking, like leftovers.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter.
This is the coldest spot in the fridge so keep things like raw meat there. Keeping raw meat there also helps to prevent cross-contamination should it leak over the side of the dish or out of its packaging.
Fruits and veggies do best in separate drawers or crispers. Herbs can be stored in the drawers as well. Drawers are great for keeping things from freezing to the back of your fridge too.
The doors are traditionally the warmest area of the fridge and are susceptible to temperature fluctuations due to opening and closing all the time. Foods that have preservatives (natural or otherwise) are best stored here. Things like condiments especially.
How To Organize Your Fridge – A 5-Step Guide
01| Evaluate your refrigerator
To best organize your fridge, you need to know what you’re working with.
Take a look at your fridge. Do you have one drawer or more? How many shelves? Door shelves/bins? How do you use your fridge now? What’s working? What’s not?
02| Make a plan
Make a list or do a rough sketch of how you think your fridge could work better.
What will you store where? What do you always have? What do you often have, but not always? Are you a fresh veggie all the time household? Or do you rely more on frozen or canned veggies?
Be honest and realistic when you’re making your plan.
03| Invest in bins, glass containers, and re-usable food storage
Based on your household needs, decide what sort of containers and fridge storage will work for you.
I love the look of a simplified, minimalistic fridge with matching bottles and glass containers with bamboo lids like Julie’s here. And that may work fine if it was just Dean and me.
However, we also have three young adult kids here – which means for food purposes we have five adults in the house. So I can’t decant every condiment and deli meat package because we have so many and go through them so fast.
Decide what you will decant and what will remain in its original packaging.
Pay attention to how many of something you always have, like eggs. For example, if you always buy two dozen eggs, a fridge organizer that only holds twelve is useless to you.
Also, make sure to measure your particular fridge. Measurements like the distance between shelves and how deep the drawers are will determine the sizes of your fridge storage containers.
04| Clean out the entire fridge
Once you’ve determined what storage you need, it’s time to clean out the fridge. This is best done on a shop day (or the day before) so that you have the least amount of food in the fridge possible.
To clean out the fridge, take everything out. I do this one shelf or drawer at a time every few weeks. If it’s been a while though, empty the entire fridge at once. Put foods into coolers if it’s going to take a while, to prevent spoilage.
Now wipe down each shelf and drawer. Use a cloth with an all-purpose cleaner, or just hot water. A toothbrush works for those tight spots. You can remove drawers and wash them in the sink with hot soapy water if needed.
05| Set up zones
Based on the storage zones outlined above or on how you want to organize your fridge, return things to the clean fridge.
It helps to corral things like condiments on the fridge doors or lazy Susans. Keep vegetables with vegetables, deli meats with deli meats, etc.
In our fridge, we keep:
- Pickles and olives, jams and nut butters on the top shelf (now on lazy susans).
- On the middle shelf are the eggs, nuts/seeds, and dips (like hummus and guacamole). There’s also space left on the middle shelf for leftovers and packed lunches.
- On the bottom shelf is the extra produce.
- The two drawers are for fruit and other vegetables.
- We also have a third, full-width drawer that we use for deli meats, bacon, and meat sticks.
- Most of the condiments as well as some vitamins and butter on the doors.
What I Always Keep in My Fridge
There are some things we always have on hand, no matter where we are in the grocery cycle.
We are a condiment family and always have lots of those among other things.
- nut/seed butters
- pickles and olives
- many condiments including ketchup, yellow mustard, dijon mustard, hp sauce, kraft original bbq sauce, mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise, Thai sauce, sriracha
- vitamin d
- fresh onions and garlic
- lemons, and limes
Where Are All Your Drinks?
We have a mini fridge that holds all of our drinks, which is why there’s no milk, juice, or anything else in the main fridge.
Juice, milk, creamer, wine, you-name-it goes in the mini fridge over by the coffee bar side of the kitchen.
This allows our guests to help themselves and also frees up space in the big fridge – which comes in handy with five adults’ worth of food in there!
Top Tips for Fridge Organization
- Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods away from each other. Keep cooked foods and leftovers up higher than raw food to avoid the raw foods dripping onto the ready-to-eat foods.
- Store tall items in the back so that you can see the shorter items. And be careful to keep herbs and other fresh foods from being pressed against the back, which may cause them to freeze to the back of the fridge. Or better yet…
- Get a lazy susan so you can see all items easily. We only just did this in our fridge and it’s a total game-changer.
- Clean your fridge regularly. Take out the drawers and wash them, use a toothbrush for tight spots, and wipe shelves clean weekly. Your food storage must be clean!
- If needed, thaw your fridge regularly to avoid ice buildup. Newer fridges need this less often than older ones, but ice still happens in our only 5-year-old fridge.
- Be sure to cover all cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
- Set up a snack station if you’ve got semi-self-sufficient kiddos or if they need to grab and go for sports or school.
- Label what you can. Some say to label everything in the fridge, but I find that our fridge contents are ever-changing so I only label what is constant like condiments or eggs. But you do what works for you.
- Don’t put hot foods into the fridge as it will lower the overall temperature which can lead to food spoiling and thus food poisoning.
- Leave space for what you most often have in your fridge. Most of the time we have leftovers that Dean takes for his lunch, so we keep a spot in the fridge for those. During holidays that space is taken up by extra holiday food.
Fridge Organization Video
Favorite Fridge Organization
Here’s what we’ve used to organize our family’s fridge.
- Lazy Susans
- Narrow clear acrylic organizers
- Egg holder + other clear acrylic organizer set
- Clear acrylic fridge organizers