If Your Resolution Is to Cook More at Home, These 7 Fridge Organizing Tips From The Home Edit Will Help

published Jan 7, 2023
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If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say I’ve done more cooking in the last year than I have in the other 36 combined. It was never something I’ve felt particularly passionate about or was even any good at but from both a financial and health perspective, I knew it was a skill worth honing.

After dealing with gut and overall health issues, making meals at home has made a significant difference in how I feel day to day. And while it’s true, inflation is causing grocery shopping to be more stressful for many people, it’s still the better budget-friendly option over take-out. Plus, you can easily stretch the life of your food if you’re smart about getting it organized.

I recently chatted with Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit and walked away with their best fridge organization tips. According to them, “keeping your fridge organized is the best way to cut down on unnecessary food waste [because] when you can’t see something, you’ll forget it’s there.” By ensuring everything is as visible as possible, you can make informed choices when meal prepping, snacking, or jotting down a shopping list. 

In addition to that, they explain that “organizing allows you to create systems to help achieve your overall goals.” Shearer and Teplin recently teamed up with the vitamin company, Nature Made Wellblends, to promote improved wellness routines, including better eating habits.

If cooking more at home is your 2023 resolution, use the following seven ideas to make it an easy one to keep.

Divide your fridge into zones

The top tip to follow when organizing your fridge is to create categories, or zones, within it. Many refrigerators, both old and new, come with designated spots for veggies, fruits, meats, cheeses, and butter. So, by all means, work with what you have, but also use open spaces to sort the rest of the common foods you have on hand. Per Shearer and Teplin, you want to avoid being too specific with your zones. “When grouping your items, think in broader categories, such as ‘veggies’ and ‘condiments’ vs. ‘cucumbers’ and ‘ketchup.’ This will ensure that all incoming items have a home, which is crucial for maintaining an organized system.”

Decant to save space

No, you don’t have to go to the extremes that you see on those TikTok restock videos. The orange juice and milk do not have to be transferred from their original carton to matching carafes (unless you want to, then go all out!). But, according to the duo, “removing [some] items from their original packaging will also help to maximize your shelf space.” Taking individual yogurts out of a bulky box or stacking produce in space-saving containers will allow you to fit food comfortably on the shelves. Shearer and Teplin also encourage using clear organizers whenever possible, whether it be carrots and celery in a lidded storage container or an open bin for grab-and-go items (like, yogurts). That’s because “the more visible your items are, the more likely you are to grab them!”

Double down on storage

If the fridge door lacks space, or you’re a condiment accumulator such as myself, consider employing a Lazy Susan. “We suggest storing bottles in divided turntables on a shelf,” says Shearer and Teplin. The reason this works so well is that most condiment bottles are round and, therefore, maximize the space of a circular Lazy Susan. You can use dividers to sort them into categories such as savory, sweet, and spicy.

Don’t forget to leave room for leftovers

I often see comments on photos or videos of a perfectly organized fridge asking where to put leftovers because there doesn’t seem to be any space reserved for them. So, I posed this question to Shearer and Teplin. Their solution? “It’s simple: Designate a permanent zone in your fridge for leftovers. Use a bin instead of just leaving an empty space — this will prevent someone from reassigning it when leftovers aren’t there.”

Follow the “one in, one out” rule

This method is one of the best ways to prevent food or drinks from spoiling. Shearer and Teplin advise to “keep the old stuff in front of the new stuff when you restock your refrigerator” so you’ll use up the things closer to their expiration first. Let’s use individual yogurts again as an example: if you buy a new pack because they’re on sale but you have a few left at home, slide the older yogurts to the front of an open bin and place the new ones behind them.

Dedicate a spot for special diets

If anyone in the home has a food allergy or intolerance, you’ll want to take an extra step to safeguard their alternatives. “Zones and labeling are always important, but especially here,“ says Shearer and Teplin. “We recommend dividing the fridge in half and designating ‘safe’ zones to avoid cross-contamination. Everything should be stored in bins in case anything leaks or drips. And of course… LABEL EVERYTHING.”

Declutter and do it often

The Home Edit owners don’t mess around with this rule. They recommend going through the fridge “at least once a week since these items have a turnover rate.” Time it with your trash or recycling pick up days and consider investing in a countertop composter. If you’re in the habit of going to the grocery store every Saturday morning, take a few minutes before you head out to assess what you need before buying something unnecessary, saving you from spending more and, potentially, wasting food.