How to Organize a Fridge Once and For All

Rose Morrison

Mar 12, 2024

a teal and blue kitchen with an open fridge

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People lead busy lives, and organizing the refrigerator is often at the bottom of their to-do list. You might throw out old produce when you go to the store or wipe down spills, but learning how to organize your fridge and sticking to it is a challenge, especially if you live in a house with other people.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate about 73 to 152 million metric tons of food waste every year. Think about how much food you likely throw out each week and times that by the 10s of millions of people in the United States.

It’s time to shape up and optimize your fridge to avoid food waste. No more wilted lettuce pushed to the back of the fridge or month-old milk cartons on the shelves. To get you started, here are some tips on how to organize a fridge for a more efficient space.

upclose image of a white fridge with magnets

1. Pull Everything Out

It’s important to get everything out to see what you have. You might be surprised by how many jars of pickles you keep in your fridge when you only need one. Pulling everything out lets you see what you have and what is expiring soon. 

You can also declutter at this time by throwing out anything expired, moldy or iffy-looking. Be sure to unplug your fridge and place perishable items in a cooler. That way, you can take your time sorting through the food that you currently have.

Use the opportunity to deep clean the drawers and shelves for a fresh start. A disinfecting spray and several paper towels should do the trick. If there are any unwanted smells, you can pour baking soda into an open container and put it on the bottom shelf for a natural deodorizer.

2. Create Zones

Once you have everything out of your fridge, pick foods of the same category to create zones. You can label the sections with a sticker or magnet or color-code the sections as you please.

Here are some examples that you can try out:

  • An eat-me-first box: Out of sight, out of mind. If you’re guilty of that mindset, have a zone for items that need to be consumed immediately. An eat-me-first box helps keep all your soon-to-be expired foods in one convenient location. Try having the cart near the front of the fridge so you notice it as soon as you open the door.
  • A produce area: Have a location for green vegetables and soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries. Ideally, your refrigerator also has some separation for these items. You might have a crisper drawer where you can adjust the moisture controls to keep things fresh longer.
  • A kid’s section: If you have kids, create a section for their little tidbits. Filling it with juice boxes and yogurts saves you time when grabbing your child a snack before school or soccer practice. It also allows them to find the snacks independently without requiring you to deviate from your current task.
  • A condiment turntable: Having condiments hidden at the back of your fridge can be inconvenient, especially when you love using these spices and sauces. Try a turntable “lazy susan” from Amazon Basics to keep these items all in one place and easily accessible. Its ample storage space makes it the perfect organizing accessory.
an organized fridge with fresh veggies

3. Utilize Organizers

Before creating your zones, add insertable organizers in your fridge. This can help you from knocking things over when you’re rummaging around your fridge. Look for ways to separate products, so everything is viewable at a glance. 

You can also try more unconventional organizers to place in your refrigerator, like:

  • File organizers: If you have some file organizers lying around the house, consider transferring them to your fridge and adding chips. With technology advancing, more documents are stored online. So, you can now put your unused filing organizer to good use. Labeling the containers can also make them more efficient.
  • Wall baskets: Wall baskets help maximize your storage space and keep smaller items from getting lost. Consider placing things such as string cheese or fruits inside them. Hanging baskets stick to the wall with suction cups or magnets. You can also use them in the freezer to save room for your bags of frozen veggies and meat.
  • Drawer dividers: Dividers aren’t just for closets and dressers. They can also be a great way to keep your fridge drawers in order. Often, compartments can get cluttered with multiple items. Placing dividers inside your bottom shelves keeps your bagged lettuce and vegetables separate from one another. 
  • Egg cartons: An egg carton is a great container that you can repurpose for smaller bottles like vanilla and orange extracts. You can also incorporate this into your condiment turntable idea and place the bottles face down to the holes of the carton. When you go to use them, the liquid will already be near the top of the container.

4. Keep Food Fresh

Fridge organization should go beyond aesthetics. Try to create a system that will focus on keeping your food items as fresh as possible. For example, you can practice lining up paper towels by your crisp drawer. Adding this can absorb moisture, which keeps your produce fresh. 

And while fruits and vegetables normally go together, separate certain items. Mangos, peaches and pears can release ethylene gases, which can make gas-sensitive food like cucumbers ripen too fast. If you want to keep them a little longer, be mindful of your placement.

5. Build Up the Habit

It can be satisfying to have your fridge fully stocked and organized, but the real challenge begins here. Build up a habit of maintaining the current organizational structure that you have going on. When you have new groceries, arrange things according to how you did things.

You can also teach your family your system. Ask them to help you by putting things back where they go. It may take a few reminders, but if you can get other people in the house on board, your refrigerator will stay neat and tidy once you have it organized.

6. Review Placement Weekly

Aside from creating the habit, spend time before heading to the store to review how well your system works. This can prevent overbuying any products that could result in food waste. You can also ensure that your fridge is organized to the level you’d like. 

The setup you’ve built isn’t set in stone. Give yourself some leeway to move things around based on the things your family uses most frequently. With a few tweaks, you’ll surely get things neat and tidy in the long run.

Organize and Simplify Your Fridge

Instead of spending time looking around for that one particular item, you can just grab it and go. Learning how to organize your fridge makes your life more convenient and minimizes waste. Consider these tips and tricks to help make your fridge clutter-free!

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