Clutter isn’t just for closets; fridges and freezers can get out of control too. Here are some easy ways to keep them organized.
1. Label (and date) anything you’ve wrapped in tinfoil, placed in a freezer bag, or stored in a plastic container. This way you won’t have to worry about any mystery foods.
2. Regularly clean out your fridge and freezer, tossing anything that’s gotten icky. In addition to simple hygiene, this will help you to see what you have, create space for new food purchases, and reduce the need for occasional major, time-consuming cleaning.
3. Place rarely used items at the back or bottom of the fridge, and more frequently used items within easy reach.
4. Line fruit and vegetable bins with paper towels. This makes any drips easier to clean.
5. Group types of food together. This makes it easier to see what you have when it’s time to make a shopping list, and it also means you know where to reach when you want a certain condiment or bottle of juice.
6. If you have a bunch of produce (or some other kind of food) that has been in the fridge longer and will expire sooner, put those items together and separate them from newer purchases. This way you can use up the old eggs and vegetables on the left before moving on to the new ones on the right.
7. Put anything you know is going to drip - especially meat and poultry, which can contaminate other foods - on the bottom shelf, where it will cause the least damage.
8. Though it’s debatable whether specialized drawers and crispers actually help produce last longer, one thing they are unquestionably good for is separating fruits and vegetables so you know where to find them. But it is true that food stored in the door will be exposed to slightly higher temperatures, so try not to keep dairy products and equally perishable items there.
9. If you share a fridge with roommates or family members but you don’t share your food, you might want to divide your fridge and freezer space in half. (Not physically, but mentally – or, if you’re forgetful, with little labels on the shelves like those used in bookstores.) This will eliminate questions and arguments about which food belongs to whom. If you share with multiple people, especially if some of them are roommates you don’t trust or kids concerned about other people touching their special things, color-coded stickers can make life easier.
10. Keep paper for your shopping lists on the outside of the fridge, using a magnetic pad or a few loose sheets and a regular magnet. While you’re thinking about the exterior of the fridge, you might also find magnetic holders for pens and other small items, like these, to be useful.
11. Always refill ice trays, and check them if you don’t use the ice for a while; ice cubes can “shrink,” leaving you without when you need them.
12. As in kitchen cabinets, turntables can help you reach the stuff at the back of the fridge.
13. If you store a lot of food in containers, buy stackable ones of a uniform size and shape. They’ll fit into the fridge and freezer in a way that uses less space than haphazardly stacking food in different packages. There are also specially shaped organizers for holding wine, soda cans, and other uniquely shaped items within your fridge. These can help to keep everything neat and maximize space as well.
14. Use deep drawer bins to corral items within a drawer or on a shelf. They’re also good for pulling several things from the fridge at once.
15. If you’re freezing small items like a single bagel or a stick of butter, place it in the freezer door so it doesn’t get lost under bags of peas and containers of soup.
16. When in doubt about whether something should or shouldn’t be refrigerated or frozen, don’t just guess. Do a quick search online before you ruin something edible - or not. RealSimple.com has a few good guides about what should and should not be kept cold.