Decluttering and organizing your refrigerator may not sound exciting, or even sound like something you need to do. Learn refrigerator organization in 3 simple steps. What if I told you that doing so will improve your overall health both instantly and long term.
Are you interested now?
Just like junk drawers, closets and garages, refrigerators can accumulate a lot of unnecessary clutter. It’s pretty easy to ignore even though you’re face to face with it multiple times a day, but clearing it out will give you continued peace of mind that you didn’t even realize you needed.
Refrigerator organization the right way!
Step 1 – Remove and clean
Remove everything from the refrigerator to the countertop and wipe down the shelves, drawers, and walls. Don’t worry about the food being out too long – the USDA says that food can sit out for up to two hours in most cases.
Step 2 – Trash old items
Before placing anything back into the refrigerator, check expiration dates and toss out anything old. I like to make note of items that will expire in the next two weeks and put them off to the side.
Step 3 – Designate sections and put away
Get the easy stuff out of the way – butter already has a designated place; condiments usually work best in-door shelves; fruits and veggies are best in drawers; dairy normally goes where the milk will fit; meats go on the bottom shelf.
Remaining items will go in the sections that best fit their food groups. For example, eggs, yogurt, and cheese will be grouped together with the milk.
The soon-to-expire items that were placed to the side will go to the front of their respective food groups; that way you remember to use them.
You’ll likely have some unused space and that’s ok!
You don’t have to fill all the space. I like to leave room for leftovers and takeout.
Keep the fridge cleaner longer.
If you add some storage solutions to the fridge, it’ll stay tidy AND cleaner.
Here are my favorite fridge organizers and helps:
Stackable Plastic Kitchen Storage Organizer Container Bins (for fridge and pantry)
Pyrex Food Storage Containers (available in many different sizes – they don’t stain and you can get replacement lids if they eventually wear out)
Lazy Susan (GREAT in the fridge – try it!)
Here’s the value
Essentially, what you’re doing is sectioning by the food group. There’s more than one way to organize your refrigerator, but by food-grouping, you are simplifying meal planning and increasing the likelihood of healthier eating! How is that possible?
When it comes time to prepare a meal, pull from each section/food group (meats, veggies, dairy, and fats) and you’ll have a balanced meal without even thinking about it. Cool, right?
How to organize refrigerator for safety
However, you choose to organize your refrigerator, know that raw meat should be on the bottom shelf so that its juices don’t accidentally drip on food that doesn’t require cooking.
Ideally, refrigerators would put produce drawers at the very top to prevent this from happening altogether, but we work with what we’ve got.
Until that happens, what you can do is use the shelf above the meats as the produce shelf and use the produce drawers for packaged items like deli meat and cheese. This way everything is kept safe from cross contamination.
Good to know
Raw meat should be stored according to its internal cooking temperature. Meats with lower temperatures go on top (beef, seafood, and pork), and meats with higher temperatures go on the bottom (poultry, ground meat and meat mixtures).
This is a food safety practice to lessen the chance of spreading bacteria and consuming undercooked products. For example, steak and chicken can be stored side-by-side, but if stacked, the steak should go on top of the chicken.
Why? Beef can be eaten at 145F. Chicken has to reach 165F to be safe. That is why chicken needs to be below the steak on the freezer shelves. If any blood drips from the chicken to the steak, you could potentially consume raw chicken.
About Author: Traci Houston blogs recipes and more about gestational diabetes and prenatal nutrition at The Gestational Diabetic. She loves food, travel, organization and The Office.
If you’d like to give your entire kitchen the deep clean and declutter treatment, grab our Kitchen Refresh Printable Pack.
- a Kitchen Decluttering Checklist
- a Kitchen Deep Cleaning Checklist
- a Kitchen Pantry Clean-out Instructions
- How to Organize Your Kitchen mini-workbook