Fridge Always a Mess? This Common Reason May Be the Cause

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

My problem isn’t the physical act of cleaning my fridge out; I do that every now and then without trouble. The real issue is keeping my fridge organized and functional for more than a week or two at a time. The whole beautiful array of fresh veggies and lined up condiments will slowly turn into a jumbled clutter that hides almost-expired products and allows dishes of leftovers to grow their own ecosystems in the back.

Turns out, while I make use of my crisper drawers and door shelves to store various produce and accoutrements, I haven’t been leaving space for two key things. And they’re two elements that might be at the root of my fridge organization derailment issues: Every time I rearrange my fridge, I never designate specific room for leftovers and meal-planning. And those are the things I end up shoving into the fridge haphazardly throughout the week, accidentally concealing other items and disrupting the delicate balance of it all.

If you can relate—and even if that’s not your fridge cleaning issue—the tips from our minimalism expert below might finally help you whip your fridge and freezer into shape. (For more than just a week or two at a time.)

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Your 15 minute minimalism advice below comes from organizing expert Kristen Ziegler, founder and owner of Minima—a company that helps others declutter and organize.

“Living a more organized, minimalist life can feel like a big undertaking. I promise it gets much easier with time and practice, so don’t fret! (I have personally been at it for 15 years now.) As with any change or new habit, the hardest part is often getting started. The key with all of these projects is to establish clear homes for the things you own. Everyone’s space is different, so use this as a guide, not a rulebook.”

Fridge category basics

Your fridge and freezer are likely ever-changing landscapes depending on how recently you went grocery shopping and what’s on the menu for the week. However, some things will remain constant, so I recommend establishing a category for each shelf and drawer and even go so far as to label them. Categories can include fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese/dairy, condiments, beverages, children’s snacks, etc.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

You might be forgetting to make room for these two things

One of the most important categories that is often forgotten is leftovers. This can be leftovers from a meal you cooked or leftovers from a dinner out. Consolidating them to one spot shows you what you need to finish before starting a new meal and things are less likely to go to waste.

The same goes for meal planning. If you’ve purchased ingredients specifically for one meal, have a section carved out for that as well.

Begin here

Start organizing your fridge and freezer by tossing anything that’s expired or looks bad.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Get fresh

Next decide what categories make sense for you and begin moving the food around accordingly. If you want to go all out, you can completely empty the fridge, do a thorough wipe down, and start fresh.

What to buy

I find it’s easy to do without, but there are some great fridge and freezer organizing products available if you need to create more space or accessibility.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Read more about Kristen’s business on her website, check her out on Instagram, or get more organizing tips by signing up for her newsletter.

And read the other 15 minute minimalism installments:

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