Be sure to read my last blog post for Part 1, the first steps in getting your fridge organized.
How do you keep the fridge tidy and make it easy to find things? Follow these steps.
1. Always start by de-cluttering: remove the excess.
Do this by taking everything out of the fridge section by section, throwing out expired food or items you know you’ll never eat (condiments, unappealing leftovers), and cleaning the shelves as you go. A microfiber cloth with plain water or water and white vinegar works perfectly and won’t introduce toxic cleaners to the place where your food is stored.
2. Group like with like.
Do this in terms of both use/type of item and size, so you can arrange the shelf heights to match the items. For example, put all salad dressings and tall condiments like soy sauce together in one door shelf and put short condiments like mustard, olives, and jam or jelly together in another.
3. Create Zones based on temperature and type of food.
As I mentioned last week, the fridge has some natural zones created by temperature variations that help you figure out where to store what. Raw meat goes on the cold bottom shelf, leftovers and ready-to-eat food goes on the consistent top shelf, produce goes in the crisper drawers (I like to use one for veggies and the other for salad greens), condiments (and butter) go on the doors. Experts say to store dairy and eggs on the bottom shelf, but I find it can get too cold (they form ice crystals) so I store these one shelf above.
4. Corral items into bins.
Small plastic bins will help you group items in the main compartment of the fridge the same way that the small bin-style shelves on the doors do. I use these shallow drawer organizers and because they’re not deep it’s easy to see what’s in them and easy to take things out and put them away. You can use one bin for cheese, one for deli meats, one for yogurt, one for snacks, etc. The idea is to corral smaller items so they stay together and you know where they “live.” It’s also helpful to group items into zones: e.g. put all sandwich fixings in one place, breakfast items in another.
5. Use eye level space wisely.
Think eye level for things you want your family (or yourself) to remember to eat soon.
Stuff I want my family to grab, either because it’s healthy or because I don’t want it to go to waste, I put at their eye level so it’s the first thing they see. I also use this strategy to my advantage by storing things I don’t want my husband to eat (Don’t touch my homemade chocolate truffles!) low down in the fridge. He never sees it! This works for the pantry, too.
Next week, in the third installment of the Refrigerator Organization series we’ll tackle your freezer.