So, the thing about the refrigerator is, it’s where your food lives, and technically the home of your food. What that really means is, it needs to be clean and have some kind of order. Okay, maybe not TOTALLY organized, but let’s at least agree on clean to keep your family healthy, neat to save time, to reduce waste and ultimately, save money.
And, if you’re organizing smart, it can actually be fun (kind of) and rewarding to clean and organize your refrigerator, not to mention making it ridiculously easy to pack lunches. With Thanksgiving around the corner and your mother-in-law coming to town, I’d start on a bacterial refrigerator cleanse following these easy steps right now.
Clean it: As with any organization project, create a great, big mess. No, seriously. Take every single thing out of your refrigerator, toss old and expired items and deep clean every square inch, including the walls and shelves with warm, soapy water using dishwashing liquid. Remove the fridge drawers and shelves, transfer to the sink, fill with soapy water, and clean and dry all items. Do this right before your big shopping day when your fridge is almost empty, making it easier to start fresh.
Like with Like: Group like items together: Fruits, Veggies, Dairy, Meats, Cheeses, Yogurt, Drinks, etc.
Designate space: Assign space for each food category; adjust shelves for the best fit, and organize food back into the fridge by zone. If you’re all about pre-packing lunches, create a zone to stack them up.
Contain it: Use clear refrigerator bins, food storage containers or produce containers to re-organize, and assign a container for each food type. Airtight food storage keeps food fresher, longer and bins are especially handy for organizing odd-shaped or small packages, like meat and cheese snacks, yogurt pouches and fruit packs. Create separate bins for soda cans, contain eggs in a clear egg holder, and, if we’re being honest, no refrigerator should be without stackable wine holders.
Label it: Labeling food storage and bins reduces refrigerator chaos and actually keeps your sanity when it comes to keeping cold foods neat and visible. Labels also keep the family in-sync with where an item belongs and, gets everyone pitching in, which is the total win-win. Paint pens and chalk markers are perfect for the labeling task and can easily be changed up or updated with expiration dates.
- The bottom shelf or drawer is the best place to store meats because it’s typically the coldest area of your fridge.
- Keep butter and soft cheeses on the doors, where it’s the warmest.
- The best place for milk, eggs, sour cream and yogurts is on the middle shelf where temperatures are more stabilized.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fridge just for drinks like the Kardashians (or smaller), arrange drinks in a row by type so it’s easier to see what you have and grab on the go. In the meantime, I’ll just file this under “dream house must-have list,” next to “open kitchen concept.”
Maintain! Let’s face it; keeping the refrigerator organized is a job that demands attention on a regular basis. If you keep up with it once a week on shopping day and give it a real cleaning every couple months, you’ll be good.
I can’t promise a pink, white and perfectly pretty fridge, but let us know how many times you open the fridge door after cleaning for that feeling of personal reward. Totally get it.