Best practices for keeping your fridge organized
1. Keep ‘Like’ items together
Categorize food items based on their type and usage as much as possible. Designate a place in your refrigerator for each category. For example, keep jams, jellies, ketchup, and sauces together in one place and all condiments together in another place (as seen in the below picture). Most of the times, if you store the ‘like’ items together in the same place, it will be easier to find the items you need.
Figure 1. Categorize food items based on their type and usage
2. Rearrange shelves
If your refrigerator has adjustable shelves, then you can rearrange them and make your refrigerator more functional. For example, you can move a drawer up to make room for tall containers or move the drawer down to accommodate bins.
Figure 2. Rearrange the refrigerator shelves and make your refrigerator more functional
3. Check temperature
The interior temperature of the refrigerator should be 38°F to 40°F (5°C). If the temperature goes warmer, you will grow harmful microbes. If the temperatures becomes colder, then some of your food may begin to freeze.
Figure 3. Set humidity control in your refrigerator
If you are not sure about the temperature, you can keep a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator.
Figure 4. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in your refrigerator
4. Use containers
- Food storage containers. For storing food, you can always use Tupperware, Ziplocs, bins, disposable containers, glass containers, and microwave containers. I usually use glass and microwave containers. I reheat the leftovers in microwave containers instead of using another plate/bowl to reheat it. Glass containers help me to see what leftovers I have and remind me to finish eating it off soon. Always prefer rectangle or square see through containers with lids because they can be stacked and fit into corners easily. Avoid the round containers as they take up lot of space in your refrigerator.
- See through containers. Instead of pulling out a container each and every time from your refrigerator to see what is inside and when you have stored it, you could store items in a see through containers. This way, it is easier to find what you are looking for, and also there is no need to label the containers.
Figure 5. Use transparent and microwave containers.
5. Label food containers
Write down the expiry date, opened date, and the item name in the food containers. This way, you do not have to think for a long time what it is or when you made it. It also makes cleaning easier. This is more helpful for families with children. To label food containers or leftovers, you could use an erasable food storage labels and marker with a masking tape.
Figure 6. On your labels, write down expiry date/food items Figure 7. Label your food containers
6. Look for coldest shelf
Always use the coldest shelf to store food that spoils easily like fresh meat, yogurt, strawberry etc.
Figure 8. Look for the coldest shelf
7. Use freezer bags
Choose freezer bags without BPA and can use inexpensive freezer bags such as Glad, Ziploc etc. for storing ingredients or food.
Figure 9. Use freezer bags
Few advantages of using Freezer bags are the following:
- Available in different sizes
- Can be easily labeled or dated
- Easily stacked
8. Muffin trays and ice cubes
You can use BPA-free muffin trays and ice cubes for storing purees, broth, lime juice etc. When you need them, just pop them out of the cubes and use them.
Figure 10. Use muffin tray for storing purees
9. Need cool air circulation
Cool air needs to circulate to keep your food from spoiling early. Do not overload your refrigerator with lot of food. You would not be able to see what is there inside and lot of items may go waste.
Figure 11. Do not overload your refrigerator with lot of food.
10. Refrigerator shelf liner
Instead of washing and drying out your refrigerator bins and drawers, you could use shelf liners. When any food items spills, you just have to replace only the shelf liner. You can use shelf liners like white vinyl, soft towels, plastic transparent liners, cling wrappers, press n seal etc.
Figure 12. Use shelf liner
11. Place big items in the back
Place bigger items at the back of your refrigerator and place leftovers in the front. This way, you can see clearly what you have and avoid wastage of food items.
Figure 13. Place big items in the back
12. Use coordinating colors
If you want your refrigerator to look beautiful and organized, use matching set of containers. For example, I use white and green containers for storing all my food. I make sure I label them appropriately with white labels. I use my green pen to write down the date and name of the food items. You food containers must not only be color coordinated but make sure they store your food well.
Figure 14. Use coordinating colors
13. Use beverage dispenser
If you consume beverage or soda on regular basis, then the best way to store them is to arrange them in a dispenser. By this, you could save a lot of valuable space in your refrigerator. For beverages, use beverage dispenser. For cans, use can dispenser. For bottles, use bottles stacker. For soda, use soda dispenser.
Figure 15. Use beverage dispenser
14. Use green bags
If you buy lot of vegetables, then you can store them in a green bag. It helps to keep your vegetables and fruits stay longer and fresher.
15. Organize leftovers
Prefer placing all your leftovers at one place in the front of your refrigerator and also label them with names and date.
16. Label shelves
If you have several drawers and bins inside your refrigerator, then it is best to label all of them. It will not only help you to identify the food items but also replace them easily.
Figure 16. Label your refrigerator shelves
17. Take an inventory once a week
Once or twice a week, just check what is in your refrigerator and what needs to be thrown out. Also plan your menu around the items you have in your refrigerator. Write down the food items you have in the refrigerator in a self stick note and stick it on the door of the refrigerator. Once you start using them one by one, you can strike that particular item in the self stick note.Take a picture of your refrigerator before going to the grocery store just to ensure that you do not buy the same items again.
Figure 17 and 18. Plan your menu and write down the food items present in your refrigerator
18. Plan your clean up
Try to do a five-minute clean up at least once in two days. If there is any spill over, clean it up at once. When you are replacing food items in a bin, just wipe it up once. Clean your refrigerator completely once in two months, do the dollar test, vacuum the coils and if possible replace the fridge liners.
Figure 19. If there is any spill over, clean it up at once
19. Neutralize smells
You can keep a baking soda container or a box of activated carbon in your refrigerator to neutralize smells.
20. Organize refrigerator door wisely
You can stick a self stick note listing food items present inside your refrigerator. You can also hang your family’s favorite pictures, magnets, calendars, to-do list, motivation notes, and list of upcoming events etc. Make sure you do not overcrowd or clutter your refrigerator door with lot of items that may make your refrigerator door look clumsy.
Figure 20. Organize refrigerator door wisely
21. Kids friendly storage
Store food items in you refrigerator in a way that your kids could take reach them out easily.
22. Store only necessary fruits and veggies
Some fruits and vegetables do not required to be stored in your refrigerator like onions, tomatoes etc. Store them on the kitchen countertop. By this, you could have more room in there for other extra vegetables and fruits that require refrigeration.
Figure 21. Store only necessary vegetables and fruits
Figure 3,7 and 19. http://www.squawkfox.com/2012/05/07/organized-fridge/
Figure 13. http://www.casasugar.com/latest/refrigerator