13 Organizing Hacks for Your Tidiest Fridge Yet!

I don’t have a really attractive refrigerator. It is the typical rental refrigerator in New York City: old, noisy, white (albeit it is now more of a cream color), and white. I daydream of having a brand-new stainless steel French-door version in my kitchen for hours on end. Ice maker, wine cooler, enormous freezer, etc. At least I’m not requesting a built-in camera here, hey!

However, until that time comes, the only item I do have is a reasonably organized refrigerator. You could, for example, unexpectedly drop by, walk right up to the fridge, and open it without making me jump back in panic. You might even make a comment on how spotless it is, how simple it is to locate the clearly labeled leftovers, and condiments, and how neatly the herbs are kept.

I spend a lot of effort into keeping my refrigerator organized since I can’t cook in anything but a spotless kitchen—countertop, stove, cutting board, everything. I’ve learned a few tips and methods along the way because of my drive for orderliness. Not just to keep my fridge organized, but also to keep things fresher and longer-lasting. Here are a few of them that I’ve found to be effective.

Make Your Refrigerator so Clean and Fresh.

1. Label Each Item

Chefs swear by this approach, and after working in a restaurant, I do too, claims Staff Writer Kelly Vaughan. When did we have these mashed potatoes? is no longer a question you have to ask your roommate or partner after opening a jar and giving it a whiff. You can learn everything you need to know from the label.

2. Distinguish Specific Fruits and Vegetables

Jada Wong, the market editor, explains that she learned from her mother at a young age to remove fruits and vegetables from any plastic packaging or produce bags before storing them in the refrigerator or setting them out on the counter. It facilitates sufficient airflow to prevent fruit from becoming overly ripe or, worse, from growing mold.

Additionally, she adds, “I store the majority of my fruits and vegetables in the fridge’s middle shelf or crisper drawer. To really eat them, it’s important. And the reason I say most is that I frequently leave “hard” fruit like apples, pears, and nectarines out on the counter. ‘Soft’ fruit like berries, plums, and mangoes should be kept in the refrigerator.

3. Utilize Bins and Baskets

Arati Menon, the editorial lead for Home52, got tired of throwing away condiments, chutneys, spreads, little containers of takeout sauces, and mason jars of pickled vegetables because her refrigerator was disorganized.

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She’s probably the best at keeping things tidy, but she was having trouble keeping track of the stuff in the fridge, so she decided to use bins, a storage method she frequently used in other sections of her house but hadn’t considered using there.

The same concepts, zone, label, stack, and elevate, apply to both the pantry and the refrigerator, according to Arati. Why therefore stop at the bins? Why not use every pantry organizer available, including trays, baskets, lazy Susans, and tiered shelf organizers?

refrigerator organization hacks

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4. Handle Softer Herbs as You Would a Bouquet of Flowers

How many times have I purchased fresh cilantro only to watch as its leaves turn yellow and eventually brown? Usually, at that time, I jump in (I’m working on it!) and make a valiant effort to salvage the small number of plants that are still mostly green.

In The Best Way to Store Fresh Herbs, author Lisa Kolb advises handling soft, leafy herbs (such as basil, cilantro, parsley, or tarragon) as if they were freshly cut flowers to prevent this.

Simply remove a tiny portion of the stems, then put the bunch in a glass or Mason jar that has water in it. They will last for at least a week if you cover them lightly with a piece of Bee’s Wrap and place them on the middle shelf of the refrigerator.

5. Find a New Home for Pantry Items

I’m going to let you in on something that completely caught me off guard: Several of the things you now keep in your pantry might fare considerably better in your refrigerator. I’m referring, to name a few, to soy sauce, maple syrup, organic nut butter, soy and nut milk, and whole-grain and nut flour.

Which one most surprised me? Yeast. According to this Food52 Hotline discussion, yeast is actually best kept in a cool area, like the condiment shelf in your refrigerator. Yeast is quickly killed by light and heat, which is the cause of this. You may even store yeast (in an airtight container) in your freezer for longer-term storage; it will keep there for up to a few months.

6. Keep Every Deli Container.

Rebecca Firkser, the assigning editor, stores all of her leftovers in quart, pint, or half-pint deli containers. They are the only “Tupperware” I own because every size uses the same lid, stacks neatly, and won’t leak if they are inadvertently knocked over. And we have the answer for you if you’re wondering how long to keep these useful storage containers.

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7. Allow Dairy and Eggs to Unwind

I used to think that dairy products like milk, cream, eggs, and cheese belonged on the inside door of the refrigerator. That turns out to be a bad idea. These kinds of goods should be kept in an area that is consistently cold, like the top shelf of your refrigerator, to prevent spoilage. Additionally, keeping them here makes it simpler to get them when you’re scrambling to prepare breakfast before leaving the house.

refrigerator organization hacks

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8. To Make Your Lemons and Limes Last Longer, Drink Some Water.

According to food writer Valerio Farris, the countertop is not where your lemons and limes should live, despite common belief (I too am guilty of this). If you keep them in your refrigerator, packed in a bag or container that’s partially filled with water, they’ll survive considerably longer—up to a month! The reasoning for this is that because lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits are so porous, they will dry up more quickly if left outside in the sun.

9. Fish and Meat Should Be Near the Bottom

According to Kelly, placing meat, poultry, and fish at the bottom of the freezer not only keeps them colder but also guards against cross-contamination. Otherwise, if the package leaks while being stored on a top shelf, the meat drippings may fall onto packages of butter, raw produce, or anything else that is kept in your refrigerator, easily spreading bacteria.

10. Organize and Store Items Based on The Complementary Items They Go With.

Although it may seem obvious, you’d be amazed at how many people carelessly dump items into their refrigerators. Take a look at things that go together the next time you’re cleaning out your fridge (or replenishing it with new foods).

For convenience, I always store my deli meats and cheeses, eggs and milk, and peanut butter and jelly together. Consider your regular meal routine and identify the combinations you choose most frequently.

This makes perfect sense because the less time I spend rummaging through my refrigerator and knocking stuff over (and spilling), the happier I am.

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refrigerator organization hacks

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11. Drawers and Line Shelves

We may all agree that our refrigerators occasionally become a bit disorganized. Sometimes it’s just too exhausting to clean the refrigerator shelves after a long night of preparing supper and cleaning the dishes.

Drops of jam crumbs from a pastry that was not well wrapped, and drops of opening drinks all like to stay. The best (and simplest) solution to this issue is to line the shelves and drawers with a sturdy, water-resistant liner that can be removed for deep cleaning and is easy to clean.

It is best to use one with ridges like this one since it will enable ventilation above and below and stop any liquids from collecting and causing mold or mildew.

Similar to Jada, she substitutes typical plastic shelf liners with “used sheet pans and baking trays that have bent or peeled.” They may be pulled out much more easily (almost like a drawer), and the raised sides greatly improve spill containment.

Additionally, I find that grouping specific things together when I’m preparing large meals makes it easier for me to collect everything I need at once without having to look around.

12. Think About a Lazy Susan

Editorial Lead Margaret Eby describes herself as a “condiment maximalist,” which means she always keeps three different types of hot sauce in her refrigerator and that if she isn’t cautious, they can easily disappear.

I eventually spent money on a clear, little turntable (or a “Lazy Susan,” but listen, Susan, I know you were framed) for my fridge after unintentionally purchasing the same brand of mustard twice. It means that I can organize all of those tiny bottles and cans and that all I have to do is spin the container to see my entire collection.

13. Bonus Suggestion: Frosting Works as A Seal for Untouched Cakes

There are a few situations where frosted cakes shouldn’t be kept at room temperature, such as when it’s hot and muggy outside or when the frosting is made using cream cheese.

According to food writer Stacie Billis, you can keep the unwrapped, frosted cake in the refrigerator for a few days in both situations. You won’t need to wrap the cake in plastic wrap and destroy your lovely icing since the frosting creates a seal that prevents the cake from drying out.

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