We all want to know how to organize a refrigerator efficiently so that it doesn’t become an overwhelming nightmare. The fridge is one of those things in life that just seems to be in a constant state of disarray. As the days go on it keeps getting more and more atrocious until you’re forced to set aside some time to clean it out. Usually because something has gotten pushed to the back somewhere for far too long and has begun to create a particularly foul smell. Let’s vow to ourselves to get ahead of this constant disaster and plan how to keep the refrigerator chaos to a minimum.
How should I arrange my fridge? Which shelves in a fridge should foods be stored on?
Let’s begin with organizing a refrigerator by covering some overall basics that will help you better understand how to achieve our organization goals. We want our fridge to be efficient but we also want to ensure we maximize it’s ability to preserve the different types of food that will be stored in it.
- Leftovers, dairy, and ready to eat foods should be stored on the top and upper shelves
- Meats in the middle to middle lower shelves
- fruits and vegetables in the bottom
Be sure to use the drawers as designed in your fridge as they will appropriately direct humidity appropriately for the specified foods.
Fruits need low humidity in general. This isn’t always true but is a good rule of thumb. Vegetables need high humidity and should be kept separate from fruits.
Meats, eggs, and dairy products need to be stored in the coldest area of the fridge. This is general the lower portion of the refrigerator. If your refrigerator has a meats drawer or bin that would be the ideal location. Otherwise place it on the shelve just above the drawers and bins.
Leftovers should be placed at eye level and made easily accessible. Obviously we want these to be the first thing considered when someone opens the refrigerator.
For some specific scientific recommendations, Consumer Reports has put together a great post that itemizes some of the most common foods that are stored in our refrigerators and where they should be placed.
Some great organization and convenience ideas
Consider bins or baskets for easily reaching things and especially a large leftovers bin or basket. A Lazy Susan is also a great solution, especially for lots of smaller items. Bins, baskets, and Lazy Susans can make cleaning your fridge much easier as well. They help prevent items from working their way to the back of the fridge where they won’t be seen again until you’re hunting for the source of that particularly foul odor.
Speaking of cleaning, lining your shelves can make cleanup significantly easier. Liners can usually be removed much easier than the shelves themselves. If you have wire shelves you may want to see if you can find some trays for sale that you can use. The trays will help catch spills and prevent contamination with other foods. They’re also easy to remove and clean.
There are plenty of great purpose designed containers you can buy to help keep your refrigerator more organized. Egg holders are the most popular and often come with a new fridge. Soda can organizers are another great purchase to consider. If you think you could benefit from another slim drawer there are some that you can buy that attach to the underside of a shelf. This could be especially helpful if you have a particularly tall section that isn’t getting all of that vertical height well utilized.
Keep things labeled
If you want to help keep things in their proper place label your bins, baskets, shelves and more. This way family members will be far more likely to put things back where they took them from and it is a helpful reminder.
Also, keep a labeler or permanent marker handy to label items with their spoilage date. This will cut out a lot of guess work when you have to dive into the sandwich meats draw and aren’t sure exactly how long the turkey has been in there. It’s a lot more pleasant to read a date than to give it a sniff.
What are the main causes of cross contamination?
Cross contamination is when bacteria from one food item migrates to another. Keep your meats in separate bins or baskets that can be easily removed and cleaned. Also use bins or baskets that won’t easily leak to food items below.
What do you put in the crisper drawer?
In general, vegetables and things that need high humidity should be kept in the crisper. Don’t place fruits in there with vegetables as they will make the vegetables go bad more quickly. Fruits give off ethylene gas which triggers spoilage.
What fruits and vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator?
Keep fruits and vegetables separate. Fruits can expedite the spoiling process of vegetables due to off gassing ethylene. Alternatively, if you’re trying to speed up say the ripening of an avocado, place it with a banana which ripens very quickly.
Most fruits should be refrigerated. The only fruits that shouldn’t be refrigerated are those that need to continue ripening. The refrigerator will slow the ripening process so once items like bananas have reached a good ripeness move them to the fridge.
Vegetables can be a bit more hit or miss but in general refrigerate them as well but we’d recommend visiting TheKitchn and read their roundup of various vegetables and fruits refrigeration needs.
Efficiently Organizing A Refrigerator
While it isn’t rocket science, there are some simple changes you can make that will not only make your refrigerator more efficient to use but will also extend the shelf life of some of your foods. Hopefully you’ve come away from this article with a few good ideas to implement when you set aside some time to tackle that overwhelming fridge project. Just take it one step at a time and before you know it you’ll have a super clean and efficient fridge ready to handle the toughest your family can throw at it.