How many times have you returned home from a grocery store trip, a brand new bag of Brussels sprouts in hand, only to realize your crisper is already full of them? No need to answer that—it’s happened to all of us.
An organized refrigerator is imperative to avoid a variety of unfortunate food scenarios. Being able to see all of your food easily allows you to use up leftovers in time and avoid buying duplicates, too. With labels, properly adjusted shelves, and strategic placement you won’t aimlessly stare into the refrigerator wondering what’s for dinner anymore.
That’s why we’ve broken down 12 ways to organize your refrigerator and tapped two experts for advice. Read on for their best refrigerator organization ideas that you can implement in your own kitchen today. Warning: major fridge goals ahead.
Meet the Expert
- Chantell Dennis is a professional organizer and the founder of Simply Organized Co.
- Kate Lubenesky is the president of the modern kitchen product brand W&P.
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Store Items in Clear Packaging
Not sure which container holds last night's carbonara leftovers and which one you prepared for your kiddo's lunch? Spare yourself the time and hassle of peeking into all of your storage vessels by investing in clear containers.
“Being able to see what’s in your storage containers makes searching through your fridge easier,” Lubenesky says.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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Put Food Nearing Expiration at the Front of Your Fridge
“It’s easy for foods to get pushed to the back, where they ultimately become forgotten,” Lubenesky says. Instead, be conscious of storing foods that need to be eaten up—whether that's yogurt whose expiration date is nearing or spinach that has just a few more days of life left—front and center.
This may take semi-regular rearranging, but by putting foods you need to eat first upfront, you will be relieved wasting less food. May you never find another carton of moldy raspberries in the back of your fridge again.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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Keep Items You Reach For Often Close
“If you’re constantly grabbing for an item in your fridge, keep it in the door for easy access,” Lubenesky says. Milk, butter, and salad dressings are natural picks for this easy-to-reach spot, but personalize your fridge to what makes the most sense for your eating and cooking habits.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Storage Bags Are Your Friend
You may be stocked with glass food containers, but don’t forget about another storage must-have: silicone bags. “They are great for storing smaller portions of food, fitting in smaller areas of your fridge, and keeping oddly-shaped food that would be counterintuitive to store in plastic containers,” Lubenesky says.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Adjust Shelving to Suit Your Personal Inventory
If a bottle is causing chaos rolling around on its side in your refrigerator, consider how you can adjust your shelving. Oftentimes, there’s no need to squeeze a gallon of milk into a too-tight door or waste precious space above a squat item, like a carton of eggs.
“Take a step back and evaluate the spacing of your fridge’s shelves every so often,” Dennis. You don’t need to adjust the shelves after every grocery store run, but occasionally taking inventory of how they’re working for what you routinely buy will save you plenty of frustration.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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Implement an “Eat First Bin”
There's nothing more heartbreaking, refrigerator-wise, than a perfectly good container of strawberries (or whatever your favorite fresh produce is) that goes bad simply because you couldn't see it. An "eat first bin" will alleviate that common sorrow. Dennis suggests placing the about-to-go-bad items in a container at eye level. That way it's the first thing you reach for when a snack attack hits.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Use Drawer Dividers in the Deli Meat Drawer
Deli meat drawers need a little TLC when it comes to organization. Since they’re typically large and shallow, items can easily get piled on top of each other and pushed to the back, making for a messy drawer. Dennis suggests using drawer dividers and bins to categorize items and keep your meats, cheeses, and whatnot organized.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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Label Your Leftovers With Masking Tape
Peek into any restaurant’s walk-in cooler and you’re guaranteed to find the humble yet oh-so-mighty combination of a Sharpie and masking tape put to work. You can do the same in your fridge and freezer.
“For anything homemade, sticking a piece of masking tape with an expiration date on your container can help you keep track and avoid food waste,” Lubenesky says. Now you’ll know for sure if those chicken piccata leftovers are still good.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Ditch an Item’s Original Box
Boxes can sometimes pose a storage problem. If a box is half-filled with food, it will take up the same amount of space as a box that’s half full, according to Lubenesky. She suggests that once a box is opened and partially used, transition the remaining food into a bag.
“You can label the bags with dry-erase markers to remind you what it is, and how to cook it, or clip the cooking instructions off the back of the box and tuck them in with the food,” she says.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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Use Turntables For Less Frequently Used Condiments
We’ve all been there, reaching for a bottle of worcestershire sauce on the top shelf, when an avalanche of mayo, maple syrup, and mustard tumble on top of you instead. Instead of banning rarely used condiments to the back, top corner of your refrigerator, Dennis recommends using a turntable (or two) for the extra condiments that don’t fit in your fridge’s side door, like sour cream, hummus, and salsa.
Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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Use Storage Solutions That Are Functional For You
Organizing isn’t one-size-fits-all, so if you find a storage hack that works, use it, Lubenesky says. Conversely, if something isn’t working for you, Lubenesky insists it’s not worth forcing it. There's always another system to try out.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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Know How to Store Various Produce
“Storing berries can and should look different than how you would store celery,” Dennis says. “Research the best way to store each produce item, and invest in bins that have freshness in mind.”