Back to Basics: 3 Step-by-Step Tips for Organizing a Refrigerator

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Do you dread opening that door, for fear of what might fall out? Not quite sure where to stuff this weeks' trip to the supermarket? Are you hoarding condiments? Don't know where the milk should go? For those of us who need a little reminder, a little help, a little encouragement, here is our 3-step guide to organizing your refrigerator:

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1. Clear out your fridge entirely. Before any kind of organization can happen, a decent clean out is your first priority up. Work through your fridge from top to bottom and:

  • throw away any expired food.
  • consider offering condiments and sauces you have only used once and may never use again to that friend who absolutely loves strange condiments.
  • if you are short on space, remove items that do not need to be refrigerated. These include potatoes, onions, tomatoes, honey, peanut butter, bread, bananas, baked goods, oils and apples.
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2. Begin to put back food, taking care to place items where they belong. There is a reason why professional kitchens organize their fridges the way they do: to keep food fresh. Your fridge is coolest on the bottom, and warmest in the door, and food should be stored according to its need for cool. Here are the basic principles (from this great post on The Kitchn):

  • Upper Shelves: Leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Lower Shelves: Raw ingredients slated for cooked dishes. Purchase a separate meat container to avoid cross contamination.
  • Door: Only condiments should go there. Don't put eggs or milk in the door, as they should be placed in a colder part of the refrigerator.
  • Drawers: Fruits and vegetables that need to be kept at different humidities.

For a handy infographic on this very topic, check out this one at Part Select.

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3. Enlist in a few handy hacks to maximize space and to keep your fridge looking smart. Here are some to get you started:

  • at least for a time, use labels on the inside of your fridge to remind you of the proper location for different food groups
  • make an "Eat me first!" tub for the top shelf of the refrigerator to get
  • employ a lazy susan or two, for easy access to items at the back of the fridge
  • clean out the fridge once a week before you head to the supermarket
  • after your clean out, take a photo of the inside of your fridge on your phone. Check your photo at the supermarket to prevent the purchase of accidental extra eggs or excess amounts of soy sauce!

Have your own tip for keeping a refrigerator looking smart? Share it below!

(Image credits: Veronica Roth; Anne Wolfe Postic; Faith Durand; Closette)

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