Are your refrigerator and freezer in need of a little TLC? Maybe you’re constantly throwing away food because you forgot it was there. Or perhaps you don’t have an organization system in place, so everyone ends up putting away items wherever they’ll fit, creating a messy looking fridge in the process. Or (whispering) maybe you know someone who has a science experiment growing in their fridge. (Not you. You would NEVER have moldy food in your fridge, right?) If you found yourself admitting to any of these things, then this is for you.
When I first put my fridge organization into place, my oldest daughter said, “I think we probably have the cutest fridge ever.” My youngest daughter agreed, “I love our fridge! It’s so cute!”
I’ll admit… we have a happy fridge. I’ve since swapped out my aqua baskets for clear fridge bins, so while it may not be as colorful, it looks more streamlined, which I love.
The biggest piece of advice I have for you is to group like items and create a dedicated space for each group. Here are the categories I use in my fridge, from the top shelf down:
1. The top shelf is where I keep our milk, coffee creamers, and bottled water. (Occasionally, individual bottles of pop or iced tea might get put here, too.)
2. The next shelf is where I keep the eggs, spreads and dips (cream cheese, sour cream, fruit and veggie dips, etc.), and desserts, which I pre-portion for easy serving and to save space.
Once I get home from the grocery store, the eggs get transferred to the egg holder. It keeps them from getting broken, and I can open the fridge and see how many eggs we have without having to open the carton. On the last egg from the carton, I just use chalk to make note of the expiration date.
3. I make lunches every day for my husband and daughter, so in this drawer I keep lunch meat for sandwiches, pre-made lunch items, pudding cups, etc. The other side of the drawer is for various breads (bagels, English muffins, crescent rolls, etc.) I also keep condiment packets in the back of the drawer in a plastic container.
4. Yogurt and fruit cups are kept in the bin on the left, and cheese on the right. These bins are on a pull-out shelf so we can easily access what we need. As you can see, I put individually wrapped sliced cheese in containers to keep them from getting mixed up, and as soon as I get home from the grocery store, I tear apart the packages of string cheese and put them in a coffee mug.
5. This shelf is for leftovers and prep (anything that I chop, thaw, etc. ahead of time for meals.)
6. Fresh fruit, and fruit that I wash and package for lunches.
7. Fresh veggies, and veggies that I wash and package for lunches.
This is what we keep in the door shelves:
- jams and canned goods (jelly, jam, preserves, pickles, pickled beets, maraschino cherries, etc.)
- salad dressings, syrups, and toppings (salad dressing, bacon bits, mayo, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, etc.)
- drinks (large bottled drinks like pop and juice)
…and in our freezer:
- frozen fruit and veggies
- juice concentrates
- cold packs
- ice cream
- pre-made and crockpot meals
Want your fridge looking fab? Here’s what you do:
- Toss any expired foods and science experiments.
- Take EVERYTHING out of your fridge. Put perishables in a cooler to keep cold.
- Clean the shelves, walls, and every nook & cranny.
- Group like items, and put each “set” of like items in a bin, basket, or some kind of container.
- Label the bin if you wish.
- Repeat steps 4 & 5 until finished.
- Repeat the above steps to organize your freezer.
- Do a happy dance, ’cause your fridge & freezer look awesome.
1. Q: Where did you get your baskets/bins? A: I bought the cheese slice containers and egg holder from The Container Store, and the other clear bins are from Dollar General. In the past, I’ve used baskets from Dollar Tree, and those worked great, too.
2. Q: Where did you get those labels? A: I printed them using my Brother P-touch label maker (model PT-D400) using white, laminated, 12mm tape.
3. Q: Where did you get the mats you have in your fridge? A: fridgecoaster.com. I’ve also made my own in the past using plastic placemats. They are easy to make: 1. Take the shelves out of the refrigerator. 2. Trace each piece on a placemat. 3. Cut out. 4. Set it in place. 5. Put shelves back.
As soon as I get home from the grocery store (or as soon as I have time) I spend 30-60 minutes doing the following….
1. Produce for weekday lunches get washed, portioned, and put into individual baggies.
2. Outer packaging comes off of individually wrapped cheese slices, string cheese, butter, fruit cups, pudding cups, juice boxes, etc.
3. Anything else that needs to be portioned gets portioned, put in a baggie or container, and put away…chips, trail mix, large packages of ground beef that need to get divided in half/thirds, etc.
4. Pasta, cereal, flour, sugar, etc. get put into the appropriate containers in the pantry or baking cabinet.
This saves a lot of time in the following days and weeks, especially on busy mornings.
Having a place for everything keeps you organized, and being organized means saving a lot of time and money. Being able to see everything at a glance also makes menu planning much easier. Taking a little time to complete this task will be well worth it.