Aside from our closets, the refrigerator is probably the most-used area of a home each day. A well-stocked fridge is a dream, but the opposite can be just daunting enough to turn us off our food entirely.
See part 1 of our Home Neat Home organization guide, closets, here.
Maggie’s rule of thumb: keep like items in the same place. “All beverages together, fruit together, etc.” she says, organized by the temperatures they should be cooked to in order to avoid contamination. Spilled leftovers that drip on the raw chicken on the shelf below won’t ruin the chicken, but you wouldn’t want the reverse to happen. Here’s how we like to organize the refrigerator:
Resist temptation to toss everything into the fridge after a trip to the grocery store. A surprising number of foods don’t actually need to be refrigerated. In particular, some fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas that can cause other sensitive items to spoil early. You can maximize precious real estate by knowing what you can keep on the counter or in the pantry.
We all have that ketchup bottle that’s sat in the fridge since we moved in. Or that second jar of pickles we bought before we found an already opened jar hidden behind the orange juice. To avoid unnecessary waste, Maggie recommends checking each shelf or drawer weekly and composting or recycling anything past use. Storing easy-to-overlook items on a Lazy Susan is another great way to make sure everything is seen.
Leaving leftovers in takeout containers just increases the chance that they’ll languish forgotten in the back of the fridge. Instead, Maggie advises transferring them to clear, microwave-safe storage containers. We like keeping a marker and masking tape near the fridge so you can easily date each container and know when it’s time to eat or toss.
Our favorite storage hacks include Lazy Susans to store spices and condiments, wire storage racks to add order to the freezer (and keep condensation from building), under-shelf baskets, and sturdy egg containers you can stack to save space.
As great as dinner probably smells while you’re making it, no one likes the lingering scents of multiple meals. While baking soda is the most common deodorizer, try activated charcoal (find it at any pet store) to get rid of more stubborn smells. On top of an odor-free fridge, line shelves with plastic wrap or placemats to keep them crumb free.