An area of the house, that seems to get forgotten in our organizational habits, is the refrigerator. I think it’s because it’s behind a closed door! Keeping your fridge neat and tidy, will save you undue stress and will certainly save you money! Too oftentimes, food items get pushed to the back, and get spoiled before they are used. The only alarm comes; when the odor from the icebox starts leaking out each time the door is opened! Gross!
First off; my favorite type and design of refrigerator is a Bottom Mount Freezer, or as we call it; an Upside Down Fridge. We’ve had this style for many years. It’s highly functional and just makes sense, that you’d have the refrigerator part on top, that you access way more often. It makes for less bending down too!
Give Your Refrigerator A Thorough Go Through!
When you do your initial refrigerator go through and clean out, be extremely thorough. Be sure to check all the condiments for the expiration date. If there is mold on ANYTHING, throw it out. Mold spores contaminate everything, so you need your food space, mold free!
Check all the pickles, peppers, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc., for their best by dates. Don’t take chances here. Make sure you’re feeding your family fresh food. The leftovers need to be tossed out; if they’ve been there over a week.
Take out all the food you will be keeping, one shelf at a time. Completely scrub all refrigerator surfaces, inside and out, with warm water and gentle detergent. I would recommend something like Bronner’s Castile Soap. I add a few drops of essential oils, to freshen and deodorize. Lemon is amazing! Remove all drawers and wash them in the sink. Let them dry thoroughly. Move to another shelf, after returning the food. Then move onto the shelves in the door. Removing food, cleaning and returning items. With the fridge all clean and tidy, you can really start the full organization process. Fun!
You can easily keep the interior of the refrigerator, neat and tidy, by lining things up in an orderly fashion. Trying to keep taller items at the back, and shorter items to the front, so that everything can be seen and is accessible (kinda like an elementary school picture!).
Items that are used less frequently, like say…the refill of maple syrup; can be tucked away at the back of the top shelf. Things like milk and eggs; which used most days, should have a front and center position! Depending on the design of your fridge, you make have a couple of crisper drawers to store fruits and veggies, or a cheese drawer for cheeses and perhaps lunch meats. Try not to get “spill over” of these items on a regular basis. If the drawer is full, you have enough! It will just spoil otherwise, as you won’t have time to eat it fast enough. Of course, it all depends on the size of your family, and how much you cook at home, and from homemade, fresh ingredients.
There are several items you can add to the interior of your refrigerator, to help keep it orderly. I’ve come up with a list that hopefully will give you some ideas!
- Cabinet Organizer Bins – these are the taller clear bins, that work great for keeping taller condiments jars, juices, etc.
- Stackable Bins – these come in various sizes and are wonderful for acting as an extra vegetable crisper, or for increasing your shelf space, as you can stack them to the next shelf!
- Can Organizer – what an incredible space saver these can be. Stack the cans on their sides, and just grab that beer, soda, or whatever you drink from a can!
- Bottled Water Dispenser with Faucet – The narrow design tucks against the side of the fridge, and allows more space.
- Slim Pitchers – these are fantastic for helping to create room, as they can even fit in the door! Must have!
Big Dinners and Holiday Meal Prep Can Throw Off Your Groove!
I have to confess, my fridge has suffered from cluttered chaos on more than one holiday occasion. When I’m preparing food ahead and just buying more ingredients to accommodate a lot of company. I do try to plan ahead a bit, knowing that a celebration is coming up; and make sure there are no extra leftovers taking up space, that will be wasted; as we are making larger amounts of new dishes for everyone.
Planning ahead is very important in managing your refrigerator. On nights that you know you’ll arrive back home just before dinner, try to make a meal with leftovers the day before. Don’t make a big meal with leftovers; the night before you plan to go out to eat, or have company that will require you cooking fresh.
Be Intentional With Left Over Food Consumption
Really pay attention to the eating schedule of left over food items. When preparing spaghetti, know ahead that you will have plenty for the next day’s lunch and possibly dinner. If you already have plans; pop it in the freezer, in individual servings sizes, to eat for lunch or send in a lunchbox! Don’t let it sit in the fridge to spoil. That’s a waste of time, effort and money!
Re-purpose the food from the night before. If you have extra mashed potatoes, turn them into potato pancakes for breakfast. If there’s just a small amount of chicken; not enough for a meat entree for the entire family, make chicken tacos, a soup, or fried rice out of it.
I see so many people save a small amount of extra food; only to throw it out the following week. Their intentions are good; to not waste the food. But they never really formulate a plan, as to how and when they are going to eat it again! Try to come up with your meal ideas, before even going grocery shopping. Factor in dinners, lunches and even breakfasts, that can use the evening before leftovers.
Putting left over food in the refrigerator, to take up space, create mold issues in your food environment, and dirty dishes…just isn’t a sensible plan. Try to have forethought in the management of your food and refrigerator. If you know you won’t have a chance to reuse something…just throw it out! You’re not feeding starving countries with it anyway…so just toss it.
Keep The Outside Organized Also!
Take advantage of the space on your refrigerator’s exterior surface. I’m NOT advocating covering the fridge with clutter and make it visually over stimulating. I don’t recommend adding ANYTHING to the front of your door. It’s just looks messy. (Occasionally,we do hang an occasional special piece of our daughter’s artwork front and center, to honor her properly).
I’m speaking of using the sides of your fridge with magnetics! There are so many fantastic magnetic items to help you stay organized. I highly recommend you use these!
- Nice looking, quality magnets.
- Magnet clips, for photos and perhaps artwork.
- Magnetic white board. They have very thin, roll-up types!
- Magnetic calendar.
- Magnetic chalkboard, to keep that schedule written out or lists!
- Magnetic list pad.
- Magnetic spice tins – super great!
- Magnetic organizer – kinda like a cup that holds pens, labels, dry eraser, and markers!
I hope this post inspires you to dig in, clear out, clean up and organize that refrigerator inside and out! Please let me know if you have any questions and please leave a comment below. I’d also love for you to share this with anyone who might need to get organized!