House and Home

How to Organize Your Refrigerator

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Are you tired of opening your refrigerator door only to be faced with towers of half-empty condiment bottles and food containers that are filled with last week's leftovers?

You're not alone. Refrigerator organization may sound like a no-brainer but there's actually an art to this science.

We asked two organization experts to dish on whipping that fridge into shape.

KEEP IT CLEAN

  • Clean out your fridge BEFORE going to the grocery store. Amy Brady, a professional organizer from TheClutterConsultants.com suggests moving items with closer expiration dates towards the front and later expiration dates towards the back ... just like a grocery store! 
  • Assess the situation. "Start with the top and work your way down," says Donna Smallin Kuper, author of How to Declutter and Make Money Now. "Be sure to open and unwrap everything to see what you have. Check expiration dates and throw out anything that is clearly bad or questionable."

LOGICAL SOLUTIONS

  • Use the refrigerator the way it was intended. Refrigerators were designed to keep food fresh in specific areas. "Deli meat and cheeses should be stored in the meat/deli tray because that's usually  the coldest spot in your refrigerator," Kuper points out. "Vegetables should be stored in the crisper drawer because it's designed to seal tightly to keep in humidity. The door of your refrigerator is best for storing jarred foods that can withstand frequent exposure to room temperature air." 
  • Make your mark. Both advise that it's a good idea to label and date containers. "Each time you open a perishable food item, write the date opened on the container as a reminder. This makes cleaning out the fridge (and pantry) much easier," advises Brady. She recommends keeping a small magnetic bin on the fridge to keep markers, labels, and tape within arms reach. 
  • Don't overpack. "Cool air must circulate to keep food from spoiling prematurely," says Kuper.

SPACE SAVERS

  • Turntables. Brady and Kuper are both fans of storing things like condiments, leftovers, or large drink containers on Lazy Susans, or turntables. They make things easier to find and prevent them from getting shoved or lost in the back of the fridge. 
  • Clear storage bins. Brady likes clear Fridge Binz, which come in a variety of sizes. Store similar foods with each other, or if you're a creature of habit who makes a turkey sandwich for lunch every day, she suggests placing all the ingredients together in one bin. "This eliminates the hunt for the mustard and makes prep quick and efficient." Kuper adds, "Clear containers allow you to take a quick visual inventory." She likes using square stackable bins to maximize space.