Is your fridge the land of long lost leftovers? Does food often get shoved to the back and forgotten about? If so, this post is for you. If there is one thing that has been sweeping the social media feeds, it is videos of people meticulously organizing their refrigerators, served fresh with a side of ASMR for a little flare. Assorted fruit & vegetables in a rainbow of colors, the exact right amount of yogurt containers, neatly stacked cheese wheels and sticks, all aligned for show in lovely clear drawers that fit like a glove.
As a Professional Home Organizer, I spend a lot of time in other people’s refrigerators and I promise you, even in the most lavish homes, I have yet to see any one’s fridge look like meal prep heaven straight out of a lifestyle magazine. Primarily, the refrigerator is full of half-full condiments and juices in the mis-matched bottles they were sold in, forgotten leftovers, and well-intended produce past its prime.
The refrigerator, although a space absolutely in need of organization, is not one of the places that I would typically invest in a lot of storage containers. There is so much weekly fluctuation in menu and meal prep that it is better to follow a few easy tips to keep your refrigerator from becoming the land of forgotten leftovers.
1. Start fresh. Take everything out of the old ice box. Clean the drawers, shelves, and door caddies to remove and debris, crumbs, and spills.
2. Take inventory of what you have. Sort into categories- condiments, dairy, meats, produce. If you own a bottle of ketchup, now is the perfect time to let the fast food ketchup packets go to the trash.
3. Check expiration dates and dispose of expired goods, shriveled produce, and other questionably scented items. Let go of the ingredients for that recipe that didn’t quite work out that you don’t intend to try again. Throw out the extra little packets from meal kit programs that only have half a handful of almonds left. Throw out last week’s restaurant leftovers and sad looking pizza.
4. Check the settings on your refrigerator to make sure the temperatures are set correctly for the inventory that you primarily keep on hand.
5. When reloading the refrigerator, keep like items together. Leave a designated space at eye level for left overs to be not just stored, but actually enjoyed.
6. Remove excess packaging, so you can see how many items are left. One of the most often items that I see taking up space in refrigerators are cardboard soda boxes with only one can left inside.
7. Lather, rinse, and repeat with the freezer. Say goodbye to anything covered in frost burn. Let go of the items lost long ago to the deepest corners of the freezer. Categorize and reorganize the freezer so you can see the contents.
8. Designate a time every week to clear out the refrigerator to make space for new grocery purchases. Don’t push last week’s items to the back. Rotate the older items to the front so they will be enjoyed before they spoil.
As with any food storage, whether it be the pantry, fridge, or the drink fridge and meat freezer out in the garage, the most important thing to remember is that you need to be able to see your entire inventory. If you can’t see what you have, it gets forgotten about and expires. Evaluate your grocery store purchases. It may seem like a great deal to buy items from bulk warehouses, but unless your family can finish the item before it expires, it is not a good deal. It is better to have fresh ingredients and inventory rather than stocking up on bulk purchases of items that you are sure to be tired of long before they run out.
I hope these tips will help you keep your fridge fresh & fabulous all year long. For more tips, check out this article that I contributed to! If you need help keeping your fridge organized, I’m here to help.