Fridge Organization Mistakes You Might Be Making

well-organized fridge

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Your kitchen is pretty much the workhorse of your house. It's one of the most frequently used rooms in your home, and it's the epicenter of food storage. And while many of us do a good job organizing our cabinets and pantries, our refrigerators are usually a whole different story. No matter how hard you try, there's a good chance it takes you longer than it should to find exactly what you need in your fridge.

If you're constantly digging through your fridge, you're probably committing one of these cardinal sins of fridge organization. Click through for the biggest mistakes and how to fix them.

  • 01 of 08

    Not Creating Zones

    While it may be tempting to simply shove everything you buy at the grocery store into your fridge, this will just lead to more frustration later on. Instead, assign "zones" to all of your food and group them together. For instance, dairy should all sit on the same shelf, as should meat or produce. This way you know exactly where to look when you need something.

    Investing in a few open-air plastic containers is a great way to keep your fridge zones in order and encourage you to stick with your system.

  • 02 of 08

    Putting New Food Up Front

    When you get home from the grocery store, don't just put your new food right upfront, especially if you have older groceries that still need to be eaten. Think like a grocery store and put the food with the earliest expiration date at the front of your fridge so it's easy to grab it first. This will help reduce waste and make sure you don't forget about those grapes you bought last week.

  • 03 of 08

    Piling Food

    If you have a tight fridge or a lot of family members in your home, you probably have to be a little creative when it comes to finding a home for all your food after you hit the grocery store. But while piling stuff like meat on top of jars can be tempting, it's a recipe for disaster.

    If you're short on space, invest in wire racks or a lazy Susan in your fridge to optimize all of the space without resorting to creating a mountain of food.

  • 04 of 08

    Saving Leftovers Incorrectly

    When you can't finish your Chinese takeout, don't just pop it into the fridge in the same styrofoam container that it arrived in. Transfer your takeout or dinner leftovers into reusable glass or plastic to avoid lingering refrigerator odors. Place leftovers on your top shelf where they're easy to spot and grab for a quick meal.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Using the Crisper Drawers Incorrectly

    Your drawers are meant to store produce, but how often have you squeezed something else in there when you can't find room elsewhere? Bad idea. Additionally, you could be storing fruits or vegetables that really don't need to be stored in the fridge. Fruits like apples, oranges, mangoes, and pears don't need to take up precious real estate in your refrigerator, for example.

  • 06 of 08

    Putting Meat on Your Top Shelf

    Not only is your top shelf often one of the warmest shelves in your refrigerator, but storing meat or fish up means you could be left with a nasty mess to clean up if your meat leaks. Plus, all the food you stored below could be ruined when your chicken makes a mess all over the shelves.

    Instead, store meat on the bottom shelf where it's cooler and where there's less risk of leakage.

  • 07 of 08

    You're Storing Milk in the Door

    Your fridge's door is the warmest place in the whole unit, so save it for items that are preserved, such as jams, jellies, or condiments. Putting a jug of milk or creamer in your door could leave you with spoiled milk and even a case of food poisoning.

  • 08 of 08

    Not Using Labels

    If you're really into meal planning, you probably have a variety of prepared foods at all times in your fridge. But it can be easy to forget exactly when you made that lasagna. Adding labels to all of your foods (a simple marker and masking tape will do) will help you keep track of how long you have to finish off each item and make sure you don't eat something that could be spoiled.