The Free Organizing Trick That Completely Restored Order in My Fridge

published Aug 31, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Despite being close to 300 years old, our house was move-in ready when my husband and I bought it. The bathrooms had been renovated, the kitchen was updated, and even the fridge was newly cleaned and ready to go. So that’s exactly what we did: We moved right in. We hung our bath towels, unpacked our dishes, and filled the fridge with groceries — and that, dear reader, is where we went wrong!

Credit: Lisa Freedman
And, yes, there are far too many plastic baggies in here. This was taken a while ago, and I'm happy to report that I've since embraced reusable bags!

The Shelves Were All Wrong… for Us

See, we filled the fridge… without really thinking about things. I sort of just assumed that the previous owner knew what she was doing. And maybe she did. Her system might have worked for her, but I quickly realized that it didn’t work for us.

The top shelf, in particular, was an immediate and persistent problem. I liked that it was tall enough for water pitchers, orange juice cartons, bottles of bubbles (you might see what sort of brunch hostess I am), and other drinks.

But I only really needed the left side for those containers. On the right side, I’d carefully stack clamshells of leafy greens and herbs, leftovers, and anything that needed to be eaten up soon. Things would inevitably get messy, as we added to the piles or slid bottles from the left over to the right in attempts to, say, free the iced coffee.

Also: My husband is a Diet Pepsi fan for life.

Solution: Rearrange the Shelves!

I can’t believe it took me this long for the lightbulb to go off (loose fridge pun intended!), but this past weekend, it finally occurred to me: All I needed to do was rearrange the actual placement of the shelves.

Most fridge shelves are adjustable. For this exact reason! Because not every family has the same storage needs!

I moved the shelf on the right up. Like, way up. And I turned it into a canned drink station. My husband used to slide his soda into a space on the bottom shelf, and I always secretly wanted that space for other things. Now, the sodas (and my LaCroix) have a logical space. Honestly, everything else fell into place with that one little change.

I could go on to explain what I store where, but that’s not really what this post is about. No. The point is the oh-so-simple idea to just rearrange the shelves. Even if you’re the one who put them in place to start with. If something isn’t working for you, change it! (The same goes for the shelves in your cabinets!)

I think I put off reordering my fridge for so long because I assumed I’d have to buy a bunch of expensive organizers. But I fixed our biggest issue without buying a single thing. So please consider this your friendly reminder — try rearranging your fridge shelves!

What’s the smartest thing you’ve ever done to restore order in your fridge? Tell us in the comments below!

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The Totally Free Fridge-Organizing Trick I Wish I’d Tried Years Ago