When was the last time you had an “oomph” moment when searching for an item in the fridge? We understand searching for food or that missing condiment in the fridge is frustrating and stressful. But lucky for you, here’s the truth: organizing a fridge and keeping everything in place isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, you’d be pleasantly surprised how well things mesh in once you get the pieces in place. Here’s a step-by-step guide to organizing your fridge.
How to Organize a Fridge?
To organize your fridge like a pro, you should look at how professional kitchens are set up. But frankly, sometimes modelling exactly like them can be a bit difficult. The best tip is to take our tips, make them work for you with some tweaks, and get creative. You’d be surprised how productive your life in the kitchen can become with an organized fridge. No more hunting for that lost item or finding your leftovers spoiled because you forgot.
Here are the steps below, organized for you.
1. Clean and Disinfect
The first step on how to organize your fridge shelves is to take everything out and begin by disinfecting it. Keeping foods, condiments, spices, and anything edible won’t do any good if your fridge is filled with food-borne illnesses from bacteria and moulds. Start by taking everything out one by one, from top to bottom, and work your way through. Grab a few paper tissues and spray them with disinfectant solution. Use these to wipe all the surfaces, including the insides and door compartments. And once that is done, get a deodorizer and leave it open at the back to eliminate any foul odours. You can soak the drawers and dividers in soapy water for a while and rinse them well.
2. Start from the Upper Shelves
Start by stocking up foods which are leftovers or require the least amount of cooking at the top. This includes deli meats, ready-to-eat foods that need no heating, and so on. Ideally, your foods should be arranged in the order of items requiring the least cooking at the top and foods requiring cooking on the bottom shelves. This also makes it easy to eliminate cross-contamination and keep things super organized, just like professional kitchens. Snacks and stuff you eat often should also be kept at the very front or side, stacked on top of each other so that you can grab and eat on the go. In fact, your upper shelf should also have items that are about to expire soon and need to be eaten ASAP. Because if you remember to eat them, you wouldn’t have to throw them out later.
3. Use Lazy Susans and Hanging Baskets
Lazy Susans are the disks which can be spun around to find items. Use these to store your opened jars, condiments, spices, and similar items which require quick access. For the hanging baskets, get some suction caps and utilize any space you find on the walls surrounding the shelves. You can fit in more for less with these and are great for stocking up cheese, hummus, and any prepared lunch meats.
4. Group Similar Items Together
Get a bunch of clear food-grade bags or ziplock and store similar items like herbs together. Label them clearly and pair items like dairy products in groups so that they are easy to identify and instantly accessible. Next, get a couple of file organizers to store packaged snacks and goodies. It’s an old-school approach but think of it as a kitchen hack. Anyway, the file organizers will help you store bagged goodies like bags of raisins, cashews, nuts and seeds, and even yoghurt or applesauce pouches. You can label these packets and cluster the items by category further again like juices and snacks. You would also want to use ring clips to hang items like bags of shredded lettuce, cheese, and similar stuff at the top or to the sides.
5. Drawer Dividers to Your Rescue
If you want to organize your fruits and vegetables without going through much hassle, consider investing in a bunch of drawer dividers. These are pretty simple to use. All you do is group things like spinach, apples, and kiwis in sections by dividing your fridge drawers using these. You’d be surprised how much variety you can fit in without cluttering up your fridge. Make sure to place paper towels at the bottom of these drawers to store the veggies safely and remove any residues that fall from them in the process. Make sure to change them once every two weeks.
6. Section Out the Door Divider
For the door dividers, you want to label them and keep various items based on those labels. Sauces, sandwich dressings, and speciality products like juice bottles and chocolates can go there. For the condiments, you can organize them using an egg carton as they’ll help them fit snug.
7. For the Lower Shelves
If the lower shelves look piled up with fruits and veggies, you’ll need to improvise by grabbing some clear plastic bins. Use these for storing the meats away and prevent drips.
8. The Big Picture View
We’ve covered how to organize vegetables in fridge and more but here’s the guide on how you should organize overall.
- Freezer compartment
Any foods that are sensitive to heat and light like soups, stocks, and sauces.
- Top Shelf
Ready-to-eat foods like pickled products, fruits, and any leftovers which will soon expire but have to be eaten. This is your grab-and-go foods department basically. In the door section of the top shelf, you can add store-bought cheese, eggs, and butter.
- Middle Shelf
More leftovers but this time it’s cheese, dairy products, and cold cuts. You can add sandwich bread too. For the middle shelf on the door section, condiments and salad dressings go well.
- Bottom shelf
Raw meats, deli meats, fish and poultry along with milk and other dairy products. For the door section, stock up with your favourite juices and cold beverages.
- Vegetable Crisper
This is where your herbs and vegetables need to go.
9. Some Additional Tips
- Buy Organic
Although it’s true that inorganic produce has a longer shelf life than organic ones, we still recommend organic because it’s free from chemicals, harmful pesticides, and naturally good for you. Take a trip to the farmers’ markets and you’d be surprised how cheaper they are compared to the ones you get at your grocery supermarkets.
- Meat Drips
For preventing drips, store your raw meats on trays and plates. For the fish, pack it up in plastic and layer it between ice cubes in the deep freezer compartment to make sure it’s fresh. Ideally, try to use fresh fish immediately but if you can’t, store it this way. The foods that need more temperature for cooking should be kept on the lower shelves or compartments. Don’t keep raw meat on the top shelves because the liquids could drip down and contaminate your veggies and fruits.
For maximizing shelf life, your storage temperature for the refrigerator should be 34 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a fridge temperature or thermometer dial (which can be purchased in stores separately) to check if the temperature settings in your fridge are okay and there are no faulty parts or manufacturing defects. You can use any breathable ziplock or plastic bags to store your vegetables. Herbs like mint, coriander, lemongrass and others, need to be washed and wrapped up in damp paper towels after drying.
Remember that the back of the top shelf and the bottom shelf are the coldest areas of the fridge. The middle section near the door is the warmest and the way you organize items in order of their cooking temperature should hinge on this.
Get a bunch of fridge organizers as add-ons. These help you expand on your existing space. From those little corners to that space at the back, you can creatively utilize them. You’ll be surprised how much you can fit in this space. Don’t jam-pack your refrigerator but rather, make it super organized.
So now that you know how to organize your fridge, it’s time to get started with the fun. Because once you make a system for keeping your products organized, you’d be surprised how efficient and easy it gets to maintain it. Plus, cleaning also becomes a lot easier.