Did you know the average American spends near $3000 a year on dining out? Don’t think that’s possible? Just think about it; if you spend $10 a day buying a sandwich and a coffee (a reasonable amount), that’s $50 a week at least, totaling at least $2500 a year.
This is a fat $3000 that you could save and put towards travel, healthcare, or even the newest 2021 Macbook Pro.
What’s the best way to motivate yourself to cook? Having a clean and organized kitchen! A messy fridge is both unsanitary, and as we know, can be very smelly.
Read on to find out about some refrigerator organization ideas that will jumpstart your foray into cooking more meals for yourself.
Best Refrigerator Organization Ideas
I’ve personally employed most of these tips, and they are game-changers. There’s nothing like having a fridge that is not stinky, organized like a dream, and filled with healthy and delicious ingredients.
My mom and my boyfriend constantly marvel at the difference between my fridge and theirs. They’ve always got wilting herbs, weird leftovers from weeks ago, and jars and jars of expired condiments.
I make sure to organize my fridge to reduce food waste and to encourage myself to cook as much as possible. I’m not even a Type A person; I just want to save money and have the peace of mind that comes with being organized and efficient.
So, how to organize a refrigerator?
Step 0: Deep Clean
The first step is to deep clean the fridge. This can make you want to procrastinate for months, but I promise you, when you get it done you will feel like you’re on top of the world.
Choose to clean either the main compartment or the freezer first (you don’t have to deep clean both on the same day).
Then, take out all the ingredients, and sort through them. You can wear gloves if you are handling jars or things that are truly disgusting and gunky.
Some things you can keep for a bit past their expiry date; it doesn’t mean the food has gone bad if it’s past the date, it’s just that it’s not at peak freshness anymore. Definitely throw out any visibly moldy or putrid-smelling items. If you have condiments that you have not managed to use at all, you need to consider giving those away to friends or family members that might make better use of them, or plan to use them in the next meals you prepare.
Here’s Martha Stewart’s guide on deep cleaning a fridge. The first clean is always the hardest, but it gets easier from there every subsequent clean.
Congratulations! Now you have a clean canvas for your organization.
1. Know How to Store Foods
It pays to know how to store your vegetables, perishables, and frozen foods.
- Learn how to store individual vegetables
- Foods like tomatoes, onions, and potatoes can be stored out of the fridge
- Wash leafy greens, dry them in a salad spinner, and store them with paper towels in a ziploc (this prevents them from wilting)
- The above tip also works for herbs
- If you find that crumbs are lining your drawers, you can line the drawers with paper towels or dishtowels
- Store cheese in drawers because they need the extra moisture and an enclosed environment
2. Mind Expiration Dates
You may want to store foods that are about to expire earlier at eye level. Put them close to where you can reach them so that you’ll be guilted into using them up a lot more easily.
It’s the “we have food at home, son” argument but this time, you are in charge of your household finances. Don’t waste food.
3. Store Meat on the Bottom Shelf
Sometimes meat gets icky. You want to store it on the bottom-most shelf, or wherever your fridge is coldest to prevent bacterial growth.
4. Store Condiments (Not Eggs and Milk) On Door
Condiments often have a lot of salt and vinegar, so they can survive being stored in a slightly warmer environment. This goes for butter as well.
However, milk and eggs are more perishable and should be stored in the middle area of the fridge to preserve them for longer. Often, the door is too warm for these items.
5. Separate Fruit and Vegetables
Usually, the fruit drawer is calibrated to be low-humidity, which makes the fruit rot slower.
The vegetable drawer is higher in humidity to keep the vegetables crisper and less wilty.
Alternatives to keeping your veg crisp are to learn how to store them; you could invest in vegetable savers that motivate you to store your vegetables. For example, if you put washed carrots in a jar of water, they can actually keep for a month or more!
Another tip is that herbs like basil wilt super fast in cool temperatures. If you have some basil, cut up the stems, and put the basil along with some water in a mason jar. Cover up the basil with a plastic bag or other covering, and keep it on the counter.
That’s how you get a mini-greenhouse for storing your herbs and ensuring optimum freshness! When I store fresh basil in the fridge, it wilts in hours. When I store it according to the above method, it can last me a week without wilting.
6. Customize Storage Strategy
One last tip is to customize your storage strategy according to your living habits.
For example, if you have adult ADHD, many TikTok organizers have advocated storing perishable food on the kitchen door so that you are more likely to use them up as soon as you see them.
Storing them in drawers can lead you to forget about the ingredients.
People with ADHD and an organized fridge have found that storing their condiments in drawers is a perfectly viable option because when they need a condiment, they’re fine with grabbing it out of a drawer. Keeping fresh food where it’s visible and more likely to be used is more important for people with this condition.
Thus, the biggest tip is to organize in a way that’s going to help you cook more and waste less food. You’ll want to give it some thought!
Good Luck With Refrigerator Organization
I know that when I employed these refrigerator organization ideas, my life totally changed. I feel so on top of the world, and my friends always admire how clean and useable my fridge is. It’s also how I make so many meals for myself.
I have a good system going. I hope you’re excited to develop yours!
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