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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 (EPA), Americans generate about 40.7 million 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. Now, you have an idea of how much food we’re wasting as a society and how much money you’re throwing out.
Fortunately, you can reduce your food waste and your grocery bill by learning more on how to organize your fridge. No more wilted lettuce pushed to the back of the fridge and languishing there. Here are five easy steps to help you organize your fridge today.
1. Pull Everything Out
Organizational expert Andrea Dekker advises pulling everything out so you can see what you have. You might be surprised by how many jars of pickles you keep in your fridge when you really only need one. Pulling everything out allows you to 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. Use the opportunity to clean all your drawers and shelves, so you start fresh. A clean fridge is one that you’re much more likely to want to keep organized.
2. Create Zones
Once you have everything out of your fridge, create zones for like items you use together. Place bacon and eggs in the same zone. Have a location for green vegetables and another for soft fruits such as strawberries.
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, for example. Don’t try to reinvent the layout. If you already have zones, utilize those and add a few of your own. Learn how best to use your crisper drawer and other features.
3. Have an Expiring Soon Shelf
One way to make sure you reduce the amount of food spoiling and going to waste is by keeping an eye on expiration dates. If you have produce getting close to being unusable, place it near the front of the fridge in the expiring soon slot, so that you can use it at the next meal.
Another thing you can do is to place items expiring first in front. If you have two bottles of ranch dressing in your fridge, put the one expiring first in front, so you use it up before the other one. You really should get down to just one bottle at a time, but there isn’t any sense in throwing out what you’ve already purchased.
4. Teach Your Family
Once you have things neat and tidy, show your family your system. Ask them to help you by putting things back where they go. If necessary, you can add removable labels for the time being naming what goes in each slot.
It may take a few reminders, but if you can get other people in the house onboard, your refrigerator will stay neat and tidy once you have it organized.
5. Invest in Organizers
You can buy insertable organizers for cans, bottles, drinks, eggs and many other small items you keep in your fridge. Look for ways to separate products, so everything is viewable at a glance. Ideally, you open your fridge and see everything inside rather than having to dig around to find the thing you want.
Review Placement Weekly
Spend time before heading to the store to review how well your system works. It may take several weeks to get your fridge organized to the level you’d like. Don’t be afraid to move things around based on the things your family uses most frequently.
Doing a quick review before buying more food also ensures you aren’t overbuying products that will expire before you can use them.