6 Steps to An Organized Fridge
A well-organized refrigerator helps reduce food waste and will save you time and money.
Spring is a great time to clean out the fridge. A well-organized refrigerator is not just visually pleasing it will drastically help reduce your food waste, use less plastic, and overall help you save money, time and be better for the environment. Read on for all the tips and tricks I learned from organizing my own Fulgor Milano 36" French Door Refrigerator.
Organizing the Fulgor Milano 36" Pro French Door Fridge was a dream. The majestic French doors open wide boasting a massive amount of interior space. The height-adjustable cantilever shelves make it easy to organize taller items and useful climate-controlled bins help extend the life of produce.
Other great features I love are the internal water dispenser and the interior theatre lighting with LED. It is so bright! But I especially love the FINGERPRINT PROOF STAINLESS STEEL which is, amazingly, fingerprint-proof and remains gleamingly clean for days. The large self-closing freezer drawer is easy to access and has a TON of storage with one basket drawer and an automatic ice machine that makes the cutest ice cubes.
Of course, the inside of this fridge has been somewhat staged to look beautiful, and it likely won’t stay this organized in day-to-day life. But, it has been about a month now since I re-organized it and I can honestly say I will never go back. Initially, it is an investment in time and money but it will be worth it in the long run.
How To Organize Your Fridge - A 6 Step Guide
Ultimately, organizing a fridge will be a very individual endeavor. The size of your family, dietary restrictions, and the types of food you eat will all impact how you organize your fridge. This has worked for me and my family (with no children to feed anymore), so use this as a guide and adapt accordingly.
1. Invest in bins, glass containers, and re-usable food storage
Before you even start to clean out your fridge, you will need to get a few things to keep everything organized. I have listed items that have made my fridge function so much better. Some are pricey, and you certainly don’t need them all at once. Start with what you can and go from there.
Storage bins: I used to think this style of storage bin would be too bulky and chew up a lot of real estate in my fridge. Now I’m a huge convert and they have had the most significant impact on my fridge organization. The long rectangular shape is great for utilizing the depth of the refrigerator and is so convenient for organizing food. No more limes or lemons decomposing behind the uneaten produce.
The bottom shelf where I store cheese, dairy, and deli used to be a disaster zone with everything mixed together. So I was thrilled to find shallow bins that fit perfectly in the bottom drawer and keep everything sorted and divided.
Bins to store eggs are a game-changer, especially the ones with a lid so you can stack something on top. Tip: Make sure to measure the depth and width of your fridge so you can buy the size of bins that will best accommodate your needs.
Produce bins: I was very hesitant to invest in produce keeper containers. They are bulky, not cheap, and I wasn’t sure I would use them; however, I was surprised by how long they keep the produce fresh and crispy. The built-in basket protects produce from too much moisture, and the lid vent is fitted with a slim carbon filter which helps reduce spoilage. I love them, and now my lettuce and other greens stay fresh for over a week!
Re-usable, nonplastic storage bags: I do not know how I lived without these cheese and food storage bags The bags are made in France and Italy, so again, they are pricey, but they last long. You can even reuse the same bag for the same type of cheese until the fat stains become visible through the paper. I buy the smaller ones designated for cheese, and larger ones I use for cold cuts or for storing bagels, English muffins, etc.
Storage glass containers: I always have leftovers in my fridge, and I love rectangular glass storage containers, which seem to stack and fit nicely. They are great for meal prep. You can easily see what is in them, and they are also great for the freezer.
Mason jars are also fantastic for storing food in the fridge and freezer. I use them for homemade chicken broth, leftover soup, smoothies, granola, oat cereals, nuts, pickled veggies, seeds, and fruit. The smaller ones are fantastic for sauces and dressings.
Beeswax wraps: Pretty, healthy, sustainable, brilliant. I love using beeswax wraps for covering up leftovers and storing all kinds of small odds and ends.
2. Clean out the entire fridge
Now that you have all of the proper storage items sorted out, it is time to clean out the fridge. Grab a large cooler (or two small ones) and take everything out, placing foods that perish quickly in the cooler. This is not something you want to do in stages - take absolutely everything out. This is the best way to deal with all the sauces you don’t use anymore and any food that has gone bad. Once the fridge is empty, clean it top to bottom with a rag or sponge. I use a solution of 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
Once your fridge is clean, do thorough editing before you put anything back in. Be ruthless - get rid of those six jars of BBQ and dressing sauces that you’re never going to use - and keep only what you know you will use.
3. Learn where to place your food in the fridge
Where you place your food in the fridge is important. Different areas of the fridge have different temperatures and use. Here is the breakdown of those areas so you can allocate your food accordingly.
Doors: The Fulgor Milano 36" French door refrigerator has very thick, insulated doors that keep items colder than most refrigerators. That said, items placed in the fridge doors experience the most temperature fluctuation from being opened and closed so often. I like to put items with the longest shelf life on the doors: non-dairy drinks, condiments, dried yeast, etc. Eggs should not be placed on the door either. They should go on the bottom shelf, which is the coldest, or the middle shelf.
Shelves: The top shelves are generally a warmer spot than the lower shelves. Because of this, the advice is not to place milk and dairy on the top shelves. However, I adjusted my top shelves to leave a lot of room above for the air to circulate, so they stay nice and chilly for yogurt or milk. If your top shelves have very little space, place your less-perishables foods on them. Leftovers, raw meat, and more perishable foods should go on the lower shelves.
Crisper drawers: Since crisper drawers have humidity control, this is where you want to store your fruit and veggies. However, I buy more vegetables than fruit, so my two deep crisper drawers are filled with vegetables only.
Cheese and deli drawer: Self-explanatory, but here I also like to keep things like tortillas and butter.
4. Organize your food properly
Now you want to think like a grocer and organize your food accordingly so you can prolong its shelf life for as long as possible. Group items together that require similar temperatures so that they stay fresh longer and are easier to find. Separate those that should not be together. For example, vegetables and fruit should not be stored together. My vegetables go in the crisper drawers, and I use bins to store larger fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges/apples. Smaller fruit, berries, or cut-up fruit can go in glass containers or large bowls. Lining the container with a paper towel will prolong the life of more delicate berries.
As mentioned, produce storage bins are fabulous for giving all your produce longer shelf life. Aside from greens, I use them for mushrooms and cut-up veggies like carrots and celery.
Remember, you can keep many fruits and vegetables on the counter, which helps keep your fridge from being too cluttered. I always keep tomatoes, squash, avocados, pears, apples, peaches, and bananas on my counter.
Unfortunately, herbs are very fragile and perish quickly. If using within one day, you can place your herbs in a glass jar with a bit of water. Longer than that, they start to lose their nutritional value. Keep your herbs fresher in a tightly sealed bag.
5. Create a system
It seems obvious, but sometimes we (especially me) get lazy and pile things into the fridge without thinking. Place things you reach for the most towards the front. Place larger, bulkier items behind smaller ones. Leftovers, older food, expensive food, for example, should always be placed at the front so you don’t forget about them. Similarly, half-eaten yogurt containers, dressings, sauces, and chopped produce should all be near the front.
I love that the Fulgor Milano 36" French door refrigerator has very roomy shelves, but not so deep things will get pushed to the back and forgotten.
6. Use the Freezer!
I haven’t adequately tackled the freezer yet (hence the one lonely photo), but it is a great place to store food, so your fridge doesn’t get too cluttered. These are some staple foods I keep in my freezer all the time:
- Sauces (from open jars or cans)
- Leftover cooked beans
- Lime leaves
- Ginger root
- Leftover herbs, onions, veggies; to use for stock
What I always keep in my fridge
I thought it might be fun to list a few things that you will always find in my fridge - pretty much year-round regardless of the season:
- Lemons and limes: Nearly every day, I use lime juice to squirt over avocados, into dressings or marinades. So many things taste better with lemon juice - soups, pasta, salads - even water!
- Romaine lettuce: We love salads with dinner, but I also like to chop up romaine without dressing and add it to tacos, deli sandwiches, or pita sandwiches.
- Vegenaise: Okay, so funnily enough I was all out when I photographed the fridge for this post. I only like the soy-free vegenaise and haven’t been able to find it lately. I use it in place of regular mayo and like it so much more.
- Parmigiano Reggiano: aka parmesan cheese. I’m not exaggerating when I say I start to panic as soon my piece starts to get small. The real deal is expensive, but it really is the only one you should buy. Tip: Keep the leftover rinds in the freezer to throw into soups and sauces.
- Fresh hot chillis: Mostly jalapeños because we are addicted to pickled jalapeños, but also Thai red-eye chillis which I chop bits of into everything.
- Cilantro and parsley: I add these chopped herbs to everything. So good, and so good for you.
- Tortillas: For tacos, of course, because we have them at least once a week. But also for enchiladas or for a delicious tortilla soup.
- Eggs: So many eggs. I make batches of hard-boiled eggs and have egg salad toasts almost every day.
- Pickled something: In this household, we are a little obsessed with everything pickled. I love to quick pickle radishes, red onions, and jalapeños. A jar of store-bought pickles or peperoncini is something we are also never without.
- Olives: Currently I go through a ridiculous amount of Castelvetrano olives. Have you tried them? I love them as-is, in salads or with chicken dishes.
- Yogurt: We go through so much yogurt. My go-to snack with berries or bananas and for making pancakes every Sunday.
- Sriracha, and other chilli sauces: We love a little heat. Currently, chili sauce is always in my fridge - great with ramen noodles and a hard-boiled egg. Sambal Olek is also a staple.
- White wine: I add splashes of white wine to so many things when I’m cooking. It adds so much flavor to sauces and helps deglaze a pan.
I sincerely hope this post has provided a few fun and inspiring ideas to organize your fridge a little more efficiently. I know it can seem overwhelming to dedicate so much time, money, and effort to organizing a refrigerator, but it will be worth it in the end. Sometimes just one tip can make a huge change. Happy organizing!