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Simple Steps to Organize Your Fridge (Your Future Self Will Thank You!)

Created November 25, 2019
Simple Steps to Organize Your Fridge
If opening your fridge doesn’t spark joy, it’s time for a refresh.
We have all the best tips, tricks and hacks to organize your refrigerator from top to bottom, with results that keep your food fresher, your shelves cleaner and your fridge filling you with pride.
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Let’s get real for a minute: When was the last time you did a deep-dive into your refrigerator? Is everything labeled and in its proper place or, like most of us, are you wondering how long that half-used block of cream cheese has been hanging out in the back corner? And, do you store apples in the fridge? And, how do you get rid of that smell?

We’ve been there—and thankfully for you, we know how to make everything right again in the refrigerator in no time. Read on for all the advice we have on how to organize your fridge for good.

Step 1: Clean Out Your Fridge

Empty fridge with a box of baking soda

First things first: Let’s clean out the fridge and start fresh. Here’s how to do it:

  • Empty the fridge entirely. Take out every food item and every removable drawer.
  • Wipe down all walls and surfaces in the refrigerator with disinfecting wipes or spray. Soak drawers in the sink in hot, soapy water; rinse and air dry completely before placing them back in the fridge.
  • Look over expiration dates on canned or jarred items; throw away anything that is expired or opened but hasn’t been used for a long time.
  • Wipe down any jars or bottles with sticky, saucy drips or residue on the sides or bottoms.
  • Place a deodorizer in the back of the fridge. You can purchase a device specifically designed for this task, or remove the entire top of a box of baking soda and store it in the fridge. The baking soda will neutralize any offensive smells lingering in the fridge from leftovers past. For best results, be sure to replace the baking soda every three months, or a refrigerator deodorizer as often as the manufacturer recommends.

Step 2: Organize Your Fridge

Shelves in a refrigerator

Are you feeling better already? We sure are. Now it’s time to organize your fridge like a pro.

To start, organize foods in groups so you know where everything is located and avoid any potential cross-contamination. Here’s what we recommend:

Upper Shelves

  • Leftovers (in clear containers so you can see what needs to be eaten)
  • Drinks
  • Ready-to-eat foods such as snacks, yogurt, deli meat or cheese

Lower Shelves

  • Raw ingredients such as uncooked meat (well-wrapped to avoid leakage)
  • Packaged foods such as Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls, ravioli or eggs (in their original covered cardboard crate or in an egg holder)

Crisper Drawers

  • Fruits and veggies in separate drawers

Door

  • Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and peanut butter

Expert tip: If you don’t have room for all of your condiments in the door, put your favorite go-to dressings and sauces on a lazy Susan on one of the fridge shelves for easy access and viewability.

Shelves in a refrigerator

Tips for Even More Fridge Organization

If you want to step up your organizing game even more, here are some bonus tips on how to make your refrigerator the envy of your lesser-organized kitchen spaces:

  • Line the shelves with plastic wrap for easy cleanup of spills—if you accidentally spill something in the fridge, just pull off the plastic wrap and line it with a fresh sheet. Line crisper drawers with paper towels, too, to catch and contain spills or errant juices from fresh fruits.
  • Use bins or baskets with labels to contain grouped food items. For example, place all of the cheese in one bin labeled—you guessed it—“cheese.” Plastic file holders also make for surprisingly efficient snack organizers for small packaged foods!
  • Use all of the space. Place small snacks or other packaged food items on the refrigerator walls in small suction wall bins/baskets.
  • Use drawer dividers to separate fruits from each other in crisper drawers. Keep peaches in one section, citrus in another, apples in another and so forth. You can do the same with vegetables.

Step 3: How to Keep Foods Fresher, Longer

Shelves in a refrigerator

While having a fully organized fridge is great, it’s also important to keep the foods inside as fresh as possible for as long as possible so you can enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your organizing labor. Here’s what we recommend for keeping refrigerated foods super fresh.

Give Foods the Temperatures They Crave

  • Keep the interior temperature of your fridge at 40°F or below at all times to maintain maximum food freshness. Some refrigerators have a built-in thermometer, but if yours doesn’t, you can purchase one for cheap.
  • Adjust the humidity settings for your crisper drawers according to its contents. Fruits like low humidity, while leaves and greens prefer high humidity.
  • Don’t put milk in the door even if there is a designated space for it. Temperatures fluctuate too frequently in the fridge door, which isn’t ideal for fresh dairy products. Instead, store the milk on the middle or top shelf of the fridge to maintain a stable temperature.
  • Deli meats do best stored in the colder parts of the fridge, whether that’s in a designated shallow meat drawer or towards the back of the fridge shelves.

Correct Packaging and Labels Are Your Friends

  • Store fruit in the crisper drawer in its original packaging or in a plastic bag. Store vegetables in perforated plastic bags.
  • Store herbs like fresh flowers. Trim the stems, then place them stem side-down in a tall glass or jar filled one-third to halfway with water. Cover the leaves loosely with a plastic storage bag and store them on the middle shelf. They’ll last at least one week this way.
  • Place a bin on a shelf in the fridge labeled “Eat Me First”, and place all foods that are about to spoil or need to be used up in that bin to avoid waste as much as possible.

Inside of a refrigerator

Some Foods Don’t Play Nice With the Fridge, or Each Other

  • Keep certain foods out of the fridge such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions and honey. For maximum freshness, these foods shouldn’t be refrigerated.
  • Some foods, such as apples, can be stored in the fridge but don’t have to be. While apples can be stored at room temperature for up to one week, if you want to preserve their freshness longer or you just like eating cold apples, feel free to refrigerate them.
  • Keep certain fruits and vegetables away from each other so they don’t go bad more quickly. Foods such as apples, stone fruits, mangoes, passion fruit, pears and kiwi emit ethylene gas that can hasten the spoilage of other foods, including broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant and avocados.

Expert tip: If you want to ripen hard-as-a-rock avocados in a hurry, store them in the same drawer, bowl or bin with ethylene-producing fruits to speed up the ripening process.

More Kitchen Hacks

If you love saving time, money and your sanity (Who doesn’t?), we have even more kitchen hacks on Pillsbury.com for you to keep in your back pocket:



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