Tiny Refrigerator Tips: Ways To Organize More, Waste Less

updated Mar 8, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

I love a fridge makeover as much as the next person, but I die a little inside each time I see a mega-propped-out “after”. I mean, yes, it’s beautiful and yes, it took a lot of work to make it look that good, but show me how it looks in a week. How do those cute little scrapbook labels look after you’ve dripped salsa all over them? How is storing butter in a mason jar working out? The point is, don’t worry about making it pretty. Pretty is for the outside; the inside is all about organization.

If you’re wondering what you’ll need to invest in for this little organizational adventure, the answer is nothing. Most of these items can be found around your home, but if you really want to, hit up the store and buy a few different-sized baskets that can be run through the dishwasher.

First things first: empty out the contents of your refrigerator, organizing like items with like so you can easily grab what you need when making up your baskets.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Play musical shelves

This step is so simple, but sometimes we forget we even have the option. Once your refrigerator is empty, take a few minutes and play around with the shelving configuration. Consider the tallest item that needs to be stored upright, as well as the size of your baskets or bins (see below).

If you’ve configured until you can’t configure anymore and still feel like there is a lot of wasted space, consider adding a stackable shelf.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)


Remove what you can from its original container (easiest to do when you come home from the store) and put it in a smaller reusable bag or a large bin with other like items. If you don’t have a crisper, this is a crucial step for avoiding spoilage.

For fruits and veggies, place a Freshpaper sheet in a container with a vented lid. In the past I’ve skipped this step with my fruit because I liked the way the store containers could stack up and felt like it let me utilize more space by stacking, but I eventually found that it works better for my household to combine all the fruit in one container. By doing this, we seem to take a little bit of all the contents each time rather than go through the containers of various fruits one by one, which usually ended in the last container being tossed out as spoilage. Maybe this isn’t normal, but it was a trend in our house!

This process won’t make sense with a few items- namely, dairy- but it can work with eggs. Save a half dozen carton (or cut a large carton in half, or buy a cute little ceramic tray) and put the last of the eggs in the smaller tray. If you buy farm fresh eggs don’t take up precious realty in the refrigerator- store the eggs in a basket on your countertop.

One thing that always seems to get in my way in the refrigerator? Tortillas. They are large and floppy/flimsy and always seem to be falling out because I can’t find a good spot for them. Solution: roll them up and stick them in a bin. We have a “sandwich” bin because we make them for our lunches quite frequently, so I just rolled the wraps up nice and tight and stuffed them down in the bin with the deli meat. Problem solved!

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Use Baskets

Do a lap around the house and collect any containers you can spare. Square or rectangular baskets are your best bet and will save you more space than round baskets. If you can’t seem to find anything at home, The Container Store (on the high end) or Dollar Tree (low end) have an endless number of options for you to choose from. You’ll find space-saving refrigerator-specific items at the The Container Store, which might seem a bit pricey now, but just think about all the money you could save in the long run by properly storing and consuming your groceries! You’ll have to be a bit more creative at dollar stores, but you can definitely find products to get you on the right path.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Label, Label, Label

Get really fancy with a black marker and label one basket “Leftovers” or “Eat This First”. Doing this should help bring attention to food you might otherwise forgot you have: the small containers of stuff that get buried in the back or the foods that are nearing the end of their shelf-life. This bin also comes in handy if one of us forgot to pack our lunch the night before: just grab and go!

Remember to place your bin/basket of thawing meat on the bottom shelf so that if anything seeps out, it won’t drip down on and spoil everything in its path.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)


Chip clips, binder clips, paper clips, clothespins- whatever you have, use them! Small items like herbs and take-out condiments can get lost in the shuffle; keep them in sight by using a clip to hang them from a shelf.

Store magnetic clips on the front of your refrigerator (or otherwise within reach) to place over bags of salad and other items that can spoil if not properly sealed.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Do Inventory

This is probably the single most effective way to stay on top of what is in your refrigerator, especially if you skip the organizational baskets. Slap some chalkboard paint on a wall or buy a fairly large magnetic notepad to stick on the front of the refrigerator. Write a detailed list of the fridge’s contents and don’t forget to write down dates, especially if you buy farm fresh eggs and veggies. Oh! And you need to actually look at the list and cross things off as you go in order for this to work. Take a photo of the wall or rip the list off the pad and bring it with you to the grocery store the next time you shop to keep from buying food you already have.

And on that note, clean out your refrigerator weekly, or just before every trip to the market! If you want more, we’ve compiled a large list of organizational tips here.

Tell us- how do you keep your tiny refrigerator organized?

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