How to organize fridge?

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How to Organize Your Refrigerator Shelf by Shelf

Allison Sweeney show off the Frigidaire Gallery french door refrigerator on July 9, 2013 in Los Angeles. Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Frigidaire


Think your refrigerator is just one big box of evenly cold air? Not so! The temperature inside the average fridge actually varies from front to back, bottom to top and everywhere in between. Because of this, food product placement within the appliance is far more important than you probably realize.

The whole purpose of the modern refrigerator is to slow the growth of bacteria, which thrive in temperatures from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 to 60 degrees Celsius). As a result, refrigerators are typically set at or below that low end to protect foods from succumbing to bacteria, which threaten to spoil them prematurely or even worse, make you sick.

Manufacturing giant Samsung recommends an ideal setting of 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). Many refrigerators (even the new ones!) don’t feature an easy-to-read temperature display. If that’s the case for yours, drop a few bucks on a freestanding refrigerator thermometer to make sure everything’s working as it should and your food is being kept at safe temperatures.

Although it might seem like time spent organizing the fridge will spoil your day, doing so will actually make it more user-friendly, easier to clean and food safety-conscious. Check out this location-specific guide to refrigerator food storage:

In the door

Those little bins on the inside of refrigerator doors are convenient, but they don’t maintain a consistent temperature, so definitely refrain from putting perishable foods, like eggs or milk, in there.

Reserve this space for condiments, salsas, salad dressings and other such items that are high in preservatives anyway, and thus unlikely to be affected by slightly higher temps. Pasteurized orange juice can also live in the door no problem. Bottles of soda and wine can stay there too.

Cheat sheet: salad dressings, condiments, pickles, salsas, butter, margarine, pasteurized orange juice, nut oils.

On the Top Shelves

This area is not as cold as the bottom of the fridge, so save it for the foods that don’t need extra-chilly temps. Restaurant professionals will tell you that the industry standard is to store foods that are ready-to-eat or already cooked (like leftovers and pies) on the top shelf. Storing them up high also keeps these items from being contaminated by meats or other drippy products, which could cause foodborne illness.

Cheat sheet: drinks, leftovers, ready-to-eat foods.

On the Middle Shelves

This is the most temperature-controlled part of the fridge, so place eggs here. Drinks and pre-prepared foods can also live on the middle shelf if you ran out of room up top.

Cheat sheet: eggs, fruit that doesn’t fit in the drawers, anything that didn’t fit on the top shelf.

On the Bottom Shelves

The back of the bottom shelf is the coldest spot in the fridge, so store perishable dairy products here to keep them edible, longer. Never store foods with high water content here, like certain fruits or veggies, because the water within them can and will freeze, effectively ruining them!

Cheat sheet: milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream.

In the Drawers

Whenever possible, use the drawers that so many refrigerators feature to separate meat and produce. Typically, there’s Veggies need a more humid environment than fruits do.

The other is often ideal for raw meats, seafood and poultry, not only because it’s in the bottom (and therefore coldest part of the refrigerator), but also because it keeps meat juices from potentially cross-contaminating other foods.

If no drawer is available, seal meats in bags or put them in their own plastic bin on the bottom shelf in the back. Never put meats on top because you then run the risk of dripping.

Many refrigerators also have one of those long, skinny drawers that are intended for cheeses, deli meats and the like because they are a little colder than the rest of the appliance.

Cheat sheet: one drawer for meats, the other for produce. Never mix and match.

11 Brilliant Ways to Organize Your Fridge

Even if you pride yourself on maintaining a super organized kitchen, refrigerators can often times be the exception to the rule. Food doesn’t care if you like to keep a clean house. Food will spill, expire, and rot whether you want it to or not, and refrigerators are their home to do so. How can you navigate this chilly territory and turn your icebox into an organizer’s dream?
Here are 11 Refrigerator Hacks You Need to Know About to keep you well fed and clutter free.
1.) Freezers can quickly become hard to navigate territory. Reduce any unwanted frozen clutter and use magazine holders to create DIY freezer shelves.
Source: Aunt Peaches
2.) Fruits and vegetables can easily become squashed and lost in the bottom of your refrigerator. Keep things organized with the introduction of a basket or two in your produce drawers.
Source: iHeart Organizing
3.) Sick of squeezing condiments tirelessly, or hitting that ketchup bottle over the head one too many times? Save any unnecessary effort and store condiments upside down in an empty egg carton.
Source: Alton Brown
4.) Everything is easier with a Lazy Susan, and refrigerators are no exception. Keep items easy in reach with the introduction of a Lazy Susan in your icebox.
Source: Rant Chic
5.) Refrigerators can be a vast wasteland for forgotten food. To help catch perishable items before they can reach their expiration date, put any expiring food in an “Eat Me First” box. Not only will this reduce food waste, but also help you save money in the long run.

Source: Closette
6.) To create more room and take advantage of open space in your freezer, clip opened bags underneath a shelf for a super organized icebox.
Source via Pinterest
7.) Sick of visual clutter? Distribute condiments into matching squeeze bottles to keep a uniform look to your refrigerator shelves.
Source: Chez Larsson
8.) Nothing is more frustrating than a messy refrigerator spill, where sticky messes can lead to difficult and awkward cleanup. Save he hassle and cover refrigerator shelves with plastic wrap.
Source: The Virtuous Wife
9.) For a fast smoothie or cereal station, glue magnets to the bottom of reusable containers and stick them to the side of your refrigerator.
Source: Tatertots & Jello
10.) Trying to maintain a balanced diet? Use baskets to organize refrigerator items into food groups to ensure you keep all bases covered. Ideas include a cheese basket, a sandwich basket, and a smoothie basket.
Source: The Domestic Geek Blog
11.) If you have a chest freezer, you can organize frozen items in reusable shopping bags for easy retrieval.
Source: If You Do Stuff, Stuff Gets Done Blog
So, how do YOU keep your fridge organized? Let us know in the comments below. We might just add them to the list!

Organize the cabinet above the fridge to fit cookie sheets and cutting boards with this easy IKEA kitchen cabinet hack. These DIY over the fridge cabinet organizer dividers are removable, adjustable, and easy to customize to fit any type of cabinet.

When it comes to kitchen organization, clever storage ideas abound. For our kitchen, that means we have a baking drawer instead of a pantry of supplies and our beloved IKEA cabinets are home to rollouts that we organized with our favorite pantry containers. In this video, we’re showing you a recent IKEA kitchen cabinet hack: how to install a DIY over the fridge cabinet organizer.

DIY Over the Fridge Cabinet Organizer

to our channel for more IKEA hacks and home organizing projects.

How to Make Your Own Above-Fridge Organizer

The space above the refrigerator is one of the trickiest kitchen cabinets to organize. Some opt to have no cabinet above the fridge, for open shelves or just open space for storage. We prefer to have a deep cabinet above the fridge for lots of storage space.

This easy DIY makes an organizer that stores cookie sheets, cutting boards, etc. vertically while still having space for large pots or appliances. Talk about maximizing the storage space above the fridge!

We are big fans of IKEA kitchen cabinets and have used them many times in our kitchen remodels. Often we use the components available at IKEA to organize the cabinets, too, but for this above the fridge cabinet organizer, we hacked it and DIYed an organizer to fit exactly what we wanted. Look how much we fit and how organized and accessible it all is!

Want to learn more of our secret tips and tricks for planning and installing IKEA cabinets? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Materials & Tools

We partnered with DAP for this project to test their DAP Rapid Fuse glue, but all opinions expressed are, as always, our own.

This post contains affiliate links. Learn more and read our full disclosure policy here.

All you need for this vertical cabinet organizer is 3 materials:

  • one 1/4″ x 4′ x 8′ sheet of 2-sided white MDF
  • white edge banding (such as this)
  • glue – we used (and were really impressed with) DAP Rapid Fuse glue

As you can see in the video, using double-sided MDF where both sides are pre-finished saves a lot of time! The laminate/melamine finish makes for easy cleaning, which is a bonus. We found ours at a lumber store in our area. If you can’t find a 2-sided MDF panel, a bit of paint and primer will work, too.

We were also really impressed with the Rapid Fuse adhesive from DAP that we tried for the first time on this project. A little bit of that glue really had a strong hold! I’ve used other rapid set type adhesives before, but they were 2-step glue, and having just one step for a quick strong hold was really nice for a project like this.

You’ll also need:

  • a saw — a table saw workbench like mine makes it so fast, but you could also make the cuts with a circular saw or jigsaw and a miter saw
  • a metal file
  • an iron (thanks for letting me borrow yours, Cass!)
  • nail gun and short brad nails
This IKEA cabinet hack was done at my parents’ home (see my cute mom in the video!) but you can see more of our IKEA kitchen cabinets here.

Building the Cabinet Organizer

The specific dimensions of the organizer will, of course, depend on the dimensions of your over the fridge cabinet.

The best part of this DIY cabinet organizer is that you can customize it to fit whatever size sheet pans, cake pans, cutting boards, serving trays, etc that you have. Plus, the removable dividers make it easy to adjust to accommodate if you need a larger section later as well.

We designed our over the fridge cabinet organizer with only vertical organizers, creating 6 thinner slots and one wider section for things like large pots, paper goods, etc. To fit your storage needs, you can easily install the vertical dividers across the entire width of the cabinet, too.

Dimensions of the cabinet over the fridge and the organizer

Your specific fridge cabinet will vary, so measure twice before cutting! Our IKEA cabinet over the fridge is 36″W x 20″H x 24″D.

To fit that space, my vertical dividers are 21″D x 18 3/8″H, cut from the 1/4 inch melamine sheet. There is a metal bracket along the back of the cabinet, so I left space to accommodate that rather than making the dividers the full depth of the cabinet.

For my 6 vertical partitions (to create 7 spaces), I cut 12 spacers. Each section needs a horizontal spacer at the top AND the bottom. My spacers are 21″D x 3″W, matching the depth of the vertical dividers and leaving a 3-inch space for cutting boards and cookie sheets.

Prepping the partitions and spacers

After I used my table saw (and my amazing workbench) to cut the MDF sheet to the sizes I needed, it was time to start the edge banding process. Applying edge banding to cabinet dividers is easy but time consuming. I was so grateful for the vise on my workbench that made the job so much easier!

Just cut a piece of edge banding a little wider than the edge you need to cover. Iron the banding on (be sure the iron is plugged in and turned on…) and then fold the banding at the edge and use the metal file to remove the excess by sanding the edge carefully.

Because this MDF is so thin, I was able to use a utility knife to trim the second part of the banding neatly and use that section for another piece, doubling the linear footage the banding could cover.

I only applied the banding to the edges that would be visible. It makes for a very clean and professional look to your DIY cabinet organizer! No one will ever suspect this custom job was done by YOU and not a pro.

Installing the cabinet organizer above the fridge

We installed the cabinet organizer with the IKEA kitchen cabinet in place. As we showed in the video, we started at the right side of the cabinet and installed 2 spacers, one at the top and one at the bottom of the cabinet.

I used DAP Rapid Fuse adhesive, which worked great! We also used a couple of short nails to hold the spacers in place while the glue dried, just for extra insurance and to allow us to install everything faster. In retrospect, I didn’t even really need the nails in most places because the glue dried so fast!

Then we slid in a divider and installed 2 more spacers… rinse and repeat for all the dividers.

The left-most divider is glued and nailed into place, but the other dividers just sit between the spacers. I didn’t use glue or nails on the other dividers so they are removable, leaving the cabinet organizer adjustable for wider vertical storage section later if needed.

We did this above the fridge but you could do this for any cabinet to add vertical dividers, for kitchen pans or office folders or anything that needs stored upright. Where do you need a vertical cabinet organizer like this?

More kitchen organizing ideas:

  • Organizing a drawer as a pantry alternative
  • Our favorite pantry containers to organize IKEA rollout shelves
  • Printable custom pantry and spice labels
  • DIY storage range hood from the cabinet over the stove

Remodelaholic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Please see our full disclosure here.

Published: July 7, 2019Filed Under: *Our Projects, $20 to $250, Beginner, By Level, By Material, By Tool, Circular Saw, DIY, DIY Project Plans, How To, Jig Saw, Kitchen, Miter Saw, Nailer, Organizational Items, Organizing, Remodel Inspiration By Room, Table Saw, Tutorials, Videos, Wood and Plywoods Etc. Tagged: budget kitchen, built in storage, Clean’ n Organized, creating kitchen storage, creative storage, DIY kitchen storage, Get Organized, ikea, ikea hack, inexpensive storage solutions, Kitchen, kitchen shelves, kitchen storage, Organization, organized spaces, Organizing, organizing tips, storage ideas, storage solutions, white kitchen

About Cass

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. Since then, Remodelaholic has become a great community and resource for all those wanting to know how to make their builder-grade home BEAUTIFUL on a budget!

Smart Top of the Fridge Storage Ideas

July 2, 2018

If you don’t organize it, the top of the fridge can become a storage black hole: things go up there but never seem to come back down! You need these smart top of the fridge storage ideas.

Top of the Fridge Storage Ideas

It is, however, a useful space if properly managed, so here’s what you can do with yours:

This post contains affiliate links.

If you have a built in shelf, or can add a shelf or two, above your fridge

A shelf or contained cube above your fridge makes a great spot to put things you need but don’t use daily. Example? Your family cookbook collection. They’re out of the way but look elegant stored up there, adding a touch of chic to the kitchen.

Other ideas?

  • Your collection of antique jam jars?
  • Your turkey platter that only gets used twice a year?
  • Anything in the style of ‘hard liquor’ that you want to keep away from small hands.
  • Your supersized stock pot that you only use for batch cooking sauces and the occasional lobster boil would fit in nicely up there!
  • Get a basket and store all your leftover party items: paper plates, napkins, birthday candles, so they’re handy when next you’re hosting a little event.

If you have a closed cabinet above your fridge

Closed cabinets above the fridge tend to become a dumping ground for unused small appliances received for your wedding or other events, but it’s a wasted space if you don’t keep it organized, as you would your other cabinets.

It’s a good spot for an emergency kit with flashlight, candles, matches, etc… for when the power goes out! You’ll always know it’s there. It’s also an ideal location for appliance manuals that you want to keep!

And if you have a gap between the top of the fridge and the closed cabinet, put in a set of jars, all the same size, with different dry goods in them, or a set of identical baskets. It looks neat and tidy and adds a little texture, colour and verve to the otherwise unused spot.

If you install vertical slots in your closed cabinet, it’s a great place to hold cookie trays and racks, extra cutting boards and smaller platters that don’t get used regularly.

TIP: if you want the perfect hiding spot for a few bars of chocolate that you don’t want the other members of your family to inhale? Nobody ever looks in the cupboard above the fridge!

If you have an open space above your fridge

This space can become a dust magnet that you forget about except during that once a year Spring clean, so if your space is open, and you’re putting things directly on the top of the fridge (rather than on a shelf or in a cabinet), your best bet is to embrace containers.

Plastic cereal containers are good to stick up there, as long as everyone in the house can reach them if they need to. You can also use clear plastic bins to place a few smaller items that you don’t use very often, like all the doo dads that go with your mixer, within easy reach but out of the way.

Installing a wine rack is a great option too! It’s out of the way and your bottles can sit nicely on their sides, particularly that lovely vintage that you bought on vacation, determined to keep it for your anniversary! You can put one flat rack up there, or several layers of wines, snug and safe and away from small hands. Are you looking for a DIY version to create in over the fridge cabinets? Check out this post with an easy to make installed over the fridge wine rack.

Another cool idea if your fridge is recessed into the wall? Install a flat screen TV up there! You can enjoy the latest on Netflix while you chop onions, which at least will make the crying worthwhile! Or if your kitchen decor tends towards all things monochromatic (fridge, stove, in stainless steel for example), add a funky piece of artwork to add a blast of colour, and perhaps a plant to add some lively greenery.

Are you dealing with a tiny kitchen?

You might also then have a smaller than full size fridge, in which case the top of it can become a great spot for the microwave. Just put it up on a riser rather than directly onto the fridge, and you’ve got it out of the way but still accessible.

However you make use of the space, banish the black hole and make it your own. If nothing else, your stash of chips and chocolate will be safe!

posted in Household Tips

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

more by Stacie “

9 Storage Hacks for a Supremely Organized Refrigerator

I can’t cook in a dirty kitchen. Seriously. Unless the countertop is clear, the stove is spotless, and my refrigerator is neatly organized, I can’t so much as whip out the cutting board to get started on preparing a meal. Thankfully, I’ve gotten pretty good at maintaining a clean kitchen workspace (the fact that it’s of the tiny, New York City variety doesn’t hurt), so you won’t find me scrubbing the sink every night before dinner.

Still, there’s one thing that (understandably) requires a bit more attention every now and then: the fridge. Mine houses a constant rotation of dairy, fresh produce and meat, old leftovers, and condiments of varying ages I often forget I even have—all of which can become, well, less than appetizing if left unattended. Luckily, my tendencies towards hyper tidiness have led me to pick up a few handy storage hacks for making everything in my fridge last longer and stay organized.

Make Your Fridge So Fresh, So Clean

1. Label everything. This may be a tried-and-true organization tool for some, but if you’re not already doing it, a roll of blue painter’s tape and a sharpie can transform the way you cook—I picked this one up from Food52-er Mark Denner on this Hotline thread. Whether you’re packing up leftovers in a food storage container, tossing cut veggies in a zip-top bag, or wrapping a wedge of cheese in wax paper, write the name of the item and the date it was prepared on the tape and stick it on there. You’ll know what’s been in the fridge longest, and therefore which items you should prioritize using up first, and what you do (and don’t) need to buy the next time you make a trip to the store.

2. Separate certain fruits and vegetables. The majority of your vegetables can be stored in perforated plastic bags and kept in your fridge’s crisper drawer, according to former Food52 managing editor Brette Warshaw in Smart Storage. But you’ll want to keep them away (like in a bowl on your fridge’s shelf) from ethylene-producing fruits, which will make your other veggies decompose faster. These include: apples, stone fruits, mangoes, passion fruit, pears, and kiwis.

Fruits and veggies that are particularly sensitive to ethylene include broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, and avocados. But on the flip side, you can harness the power of that ethylene to ripen something—like a hard-as-a-rock avocado—more quickly. For something like mushrooms, the Kitchn recommends you keep the grocery store variety in its original packaging in the fridge; once you open them, wrap the whole package in plastic wrap for optimal freshness.

3. Treat soft herbs like a bouquet of flowers. We’ve all been there: You store a beautiful bunch of fresh basil in the fridge, and before you know it, it’s turned soggy and brown. To avoid this, former Food52 writer Lisa Kolb suggests treating soft, leafy herbs (like basil, cilantro, parsley, or tarragon) as if they were fresh-cut flowers in The Best Way to Store Fresh Herbs. Simply trim a small amount off the stems and place the bunch in a glass or Mason jar filled with water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store in the middle shelf of the fridge—they’ll last for at least a week.

4. Make pantry products last longer. There are plenty of things you probably didn’t realize you can and should keep in your fridge—you’ll probably find a few of them in your pantry cabinet. I’m talking soy sauce, maple syrup, organic nut butters, soy and nut milks, and whole-grain and nut flours, just to name a few. The one that surprised me most? Yeast. Yes, yeast is actually best stored in a chilly environment, like the condiment shelf in your fridge, according to this Food52 Hotline thread. That’s because if it gets exposed to light and heat, it’s easily killed. For longer-term storage, you can even keep yeast (in an airtight container) in your freezer, where it’ll last for a few months.

5. Keep eggs and dairy chilled out. Some refrigerators entice you to store your eggs and dairy products, like milk, cream, and yogurt, on the inside of the door—but you shouldn’t, says Warshaw. Products like these belong in a spot with a constant cold temperature, like the top shelf of your fridge, so they don’t spoil. Storing them here also makes them easier to grab when you’re rushing to make breakfast in the morning.

6. Make your lemons and limes last longer. Contrary to common practice (even I’m guilty of this), lemons and limes shouldn’t be left out on your countertop, according to former Food52 staff writer Valerio Farris. They’ll last much longer—up to a month!—if you store them in your refrigerator, sealed in a plastic bag that’s filled with a little bit of water. The logic: Lemons and limes (and other citrus) are super porous, so they’ll dry out more quickly when left out in the open air.

7. Meat and fish belong at the bottom. The bottom drawer is typically the coldest part of the fridge, so this is where you should keep any uncooked meat or fish products, explains Warshaw. You can remove the original packaging and wrap them in foil to extend the shelf life slightly, but typically, you should use them up within four days of purchase.

8. Arrange items according to what you use together. This might seem like a well-duh tip, but you’d be surprised how many people toss things into their fridge with wild abandon. The next time you’re cleaning out your fridge (or stocking it with a fresh set of groceries), take a look at things that go together. I always keep my peanut butter and jelly, eggs and milk, and deli meats and cheeses all side by side for convenience. Think about your daily eating habits and find the pairings you reach for most often!

9. Bonus tip: For untouched cakes, frosting acts as a seal. Many frosted cakes can be stored at room temperature, but there are a few exceptions: if it’s hot and humid; or if the frosting is made using cream cheese. In both scenarios, you can store the unwrapped, frosted cake in the fridge for a few days, according to food blogger Stacie Billis. The frosting makes a seal that keeps the cake from drying out, so you won’t need to wrap it in plastic wrap and ruin your beautiful icing work.

More Kitchen Tips & Tricks

What are your best tips for a supremely organized fridge? Tell us in the comments below!

Week #4 Organized Home ChallengeOrganizing Refrigerator & Freezer

The challenge this week is organizing refrigerator and freezer food areas in your home.

These appliances are generally some of the most often and constantly used in your kitchen, and can easily get disorganized and out of control if you don’t keep the organization you’ve set up in place.

Therefore, we’re going to focus this week not only on getting things organized, but also on building some simple habits we can begin (or keep doing) to keep our freezers and refrigerators organized from now on.

Are you new here? The Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Step 1: Equipment To Gather Before Beginning The Challenge

Before beginning the Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge I suggest gathering some basic equipment, including:

  • Big trash bag for throwing away old or expired food
  • Sink full of hot soapy water
  • Empty dishwasher ready to receive newly emptied plastic food storage containers, and empty jars you want to save
  • Permanent marker and food storage labels
  • Cleaning supplies for cleaning up fridge and freezer
  • Ice chest or cooler to hold any food that cannot temporarily sit out while you’re working on the organization of your refrigerator or freezer

In addition, you can do the Organizing Refrigerator And Freezer Challenge whenever you want during the week, but it may be easiest to do it right before going on your next grocery run. That way you’re fridge is already on the emptier side and hasn’t yet been refilled for the week.

Step 2: Declutter The Front & Top Of Your Refrigerator

Most of this Organizing Refrigerator And Freezer Challenge deals with the food storage areas of these appliances, but before we begin with the main part it is worth taking a couple of minutes to declutter the outside of your refrigerator.

Make sure you put excess art from your kids away after a certain period of time.

In addition, you need to have a better system in place for all those papers from school. Place most of the dates on your family calendar and then toss the forms. Anything that needs to be saved should be somewhere else, such as in a file. The front of your refrigerator should not be used as a file cabinet.

Finally, you may need to winnow down your magnet collection, especially of multiple cheap magnets you received from the pizze place, or wherever. Winnow it down where you have a cute and usable collection, but it is not overpowering.

Having less clutter on the outside of your refrigerator will really complement the rest of your kitchen, especially now that you’ve got all that clear kitchen counter space for the first part of the kitchen organization challenge.

I’ve create a whole hall of fame for the front of your refrigerator here, showing the visual difference clearing off this area a bit can make if you need more inspiration.

Step 3: Declutter The Contents Of The Refrigerator (And Then Freezer) Of Old Or Expired Items

The Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge is about organizing refrigerator and freezer areas in your home. While I’ve written these steps to discuss both appliances at the same time, it most likely will work better for you to deal with the refrigerator completely first, and then circle around and do all the steps again, this time dealing with the freezer (or freezers) in your home.

Pull out drawers or caddies can separate items into
categories or zones for easier organization

In addition, when referring to your freezer I am referring to the small freezer attached to your refrigerator, along with any chest or upright freezers you also own.

Make sure to get rid of all the stuff in these appliances that is past its prime, you’re never going to eat, or is just a plain disgusting science experiment now.

To do this part of the challenge you’ll need to take everything out of your refrigerator (and then freezer), and evaluate each item to decide if you’ll keep it or not. Don’t forget about all those condiments on the door of the refrigerator. Really look at the dates on these jars and bottles, and think about how long they’ve been sitting in there (perhaps years, or even decades?) (And no, I’m not exagerating about decades — when I was young my Mom, Dad and I cleared out our fridge once and found a several year old jar of opened pickles — yuck!)

To help you with these decluttering tasks I’ve written articles on the site, about how to declutter food from your refrigerator and how to declutter your freezer.

In addition, I’ve created a couple of charts (with printable cheat sheets) here on the site to help you with this portion of the challenge, to give you estimates of how long certain common foods stay fresh and edible, when stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Refrigerator Food Storage Guidelines {Cheat Sheet}
Freezer Storage Times {Cheat Sheet}

In addition, don’t forget that we’re continuing this week with the Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge that we began last week.

This simple challenge, which you can read more about by clicking the link, will help you clear out your freezer and eat the food already purchased that’s in your refrigerator, eliminate food waste, and to save some money on groceries by ensuring you eat the items you’ve already purchased.

It’s a great way to declutter your food storage areas the old-fashioned way! (You can also check out the Freezer & Pantry Challenge Results Page to see how well it has worked for other participants!)

Step 4: Clean Your Refrigerator And Freezer Quickly While Everything Is Emptied From Them

The fourth step in the Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge is to clean the inside of these appliances up, quickly, while everything is already out of them. You should quickly clean up any spills, sticky messes and other dirt and odors.

I suggest using a paste of baking soda and water to clean your fridge and freezer, since it both cleans and remove odors. If you have any meat juice spills, you will need to use a disinfectant. In addition, you can wash drawers and shelves in the hot soapy water you’ve got in your sink.

Here are two safety items to note while doing this step. First, unplug your refrigerator before cleaning it, since it is, after all an electrical appliance. Second, if you’ve got glass shelves or drawers be careful of sudden temperature changes while you clean, such as plunging the cold glass item into hot water which could cause breakage.

For more detailed cleaning instructions you can check out my article on the sister site, Stain Removal 101, for cleaning refrigerator odors and messes.

In addition, if you don’t have a freezer which automatically defrosts this may also be a good opportunity to defrost your freezer.

Step 5: Put Everything Back In Your Refrigerator And Freezer According To Zones

Refrigerator and freezer storage bins

The next step in the Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge is where you actually begin organizing the items you’ve got left, and thinking about how to best use the space in these appliances.

Categorize the items you’ll place in your refrigerator and freezer, and then try to organize and designate areas, or zones, to place the categorized items in.

You may want some of the items in your categories to stay loose, or you may decide to containerize them to keep them together within the refrigerator or freezer.

Organizing Refrigerator Shelves, Drawers, And The Door

Keep in mind for your refrigerator, you don’t want it packed to the gills with items. Instead, there has to be enough free space for air to circulate freely, for it to cool efficiently and effectively.

In addition, you also need to keep food safety in mind when organizing your fridge so I’ve written an article with refrigerator food storage guidelines, and which also contains an infographic, explaining what types of items to place on each shelf and drawer, as well as the door, of this appliance.

Once you understand some of the basic rules for organizing the fridge, here are some of the possible categories or zones to consider for your refrigerator. Which ones you’ll choose depend on how you use your fridge, how much and what types of things you cook, etc.

  • Leftovers (typically a designated shelf or portion of a shelf)
  • Place to thaw things from freezer or marinate food (typically place to hold in lipped pan or bowl)
  • Milk and other beverages (typically on a designated shelf)
  • Fresh produce (typically in the fruit or vegetable bins) (check out these fruit storage tips and vegetable storage tips for the best ways to store various produce on the counter or inside the fridge)
  • Other dairy (typically on a designed shelf)
  • Meats and cheeses (meats may go in their own drawer, and should be kept in the coldest part of the fridge, while lunch meats and cheeses may go in a lunch making zone container)
  • Eggs (although the door of your refrigerator may have a space for them, it is best to keep eggs in their carton on a shelf, and not on the door because the door has more temperature fluctuations)
  • Condiments (typically on the door of the fridge)
  • Lunch making zone (holds refrigerated ingredients for making lunches for school or home)
  • Snacks (typically in a container on a shelf for easy access by kids)

Consider designating certain shelves, or portions of shelves, drawers, or door shelves for certain items so you can find what you want quickly and easily, and replace it back too, when you’re finished using it.

You may also consider labeling the shelves or the containers on the shelves with certain zones to make it easy for all family members to stick things in the correct places.

Please keep in mind while doing the Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge that where you place an item may be dictated, to a certain degree, by its size and shape, and where it will fit. To the extent possible try to group other like items around it, to keep like items together.

If you have adjustable shelves in your refrigerator, take the time to adjust them to fit the size of the various categories and zones you’ve created during the Organizing Refrigerator Challenge while doing this step.

In addition, make sure as you add your food back to your fridge that you follow these 5 food storage safety rules so not only is everything organized, but also safe for you to eat later.

Freezer Organization Tips And Ideas

While your refrigerator needs some air space for good air circulation, your freezer actually works better when it is full. However, you’ve still got to have everything organized in it, so you can find things.

Just like with your refrigerator, once you’ve decluttered it, you should categorize the items in your freezer too.

Freezer baskets are great for both upright
and chest freezers to separate and categorize food

Here are some suggested categories to consider for your freezer organization project:

  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Baked goods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Freezer meals

As you place everything back in your freezer, fill out this freezer inventory form, listing what you’re putting in there. It will help you keep track of the items you’ve got in your freezer at any given time, so you know what you’ve got to eat, and when you need to eat it by for it to taste its best.

I’ve given some additional instructions on how to use the form on the website page itself, so please take the time to read that when you go to print off the form.

The best way to keep your freezer organized is to containerize it, with uniform size containers that stack or sit close together (so typically square or rectangular in shape, not circular). Label these containers with the general category of item you’re placing in it for easy identification later.

The most common storage containers for your freezer are freezer baskets. They can work well in both chest freezers, or upright freezers. If you’ve got an upright freezer, pull out drawers can also be very useful.

Be sure to choose containers that can withstand the cold of your freezer, so they don’t crack or break on you too easily. You can read more about storage solutions I suggest for your freezer below.

Further, if you’ve got a chest freezer whatever baskets or containers you choose will have to stack on top of each other.

To then find what you are looking for later, I suggest you make a “map” of the baskets, and post it next to your freezer inventory, to remind yourself where the meat basket, or frozen vegetable basket is located in the stack to make it easier to find what you want without moving every single basket.

You can get more tips for organizing a chest freezer here.

Step 6: Consider These Refrigerator And Freezer Storage Solutions While Organizing These Appliances

You don’t have to buy any fancy equipment or items for organizing refrigerator and freezer shelves and drawers, but some types of items can be useful, so consider these for now or in the future while doing your refrigerator and freezer organization project.

Suggested Refrigerator Storage Solutions

Soda can organizer

  • Pull out drawers, trays or bins – these allow you to group certain items together, and also easily reach items in the back of the bin when you pull it out (see suggestions above)
  • Refrigerator lazy susans or turntables
  • Refrigerator caddy – a narrow bag that holds condiments on refrigerator door shelf, and allows you to pick up all the condiments for use at the table and then return them easily back to the shelf when done
  • Food storage labels (see my suggestion below in step 7)
  • Soda can dispenser (see my suggestion above)

Refrigerator and freezer wireless
digital thermometer and alarm

Suggested Freezer Storage Solutions

  • Freezer labels (see my suggestion below in step 7)
  • Freezer grade plastic storage bags (get them at any grocery store)
  • Freezer baskets (especially useful in a chest freezer)
  • Food Saver vacuum sealer (click link for article with tips for using it for organization)
  • Freezer alarm (lets you know if the temperature starts to get too warm in your freezer before there is spoilage from a power outage or freezer malfunction – these can save you lots of money and grief if you really stock up in your freezer, especially on expensive meats) (see suggested product to the right)

Step 7: Simple Habits To Maintain The Refrigerator And Freezer Organization You’ve Acheived

Finally, after you’ve gotten everything organized as part of the Organizing Refrigerator And Freezer Challenge you don’t want that organization to slip away again. However, without some simple habits in place I can guarantee your refrigerator and freezer will turn into chaos again, quickly.

Fortunately, when I say simple habits, I really do mean simple ones, that don’t take up much of your time at all. Here’s a list of things I suggest you begin doing (if you’re not already) to maintain your refrigerator and freezer organization.

Be Mindful Of Your Leftovers

Erasable food container labels are an
easy way to keep track of leftovers

Here’s my article, which includes several reader tips, for ideas to get your family used to eating leftovers regularly.

In addition, if you won’t actually eat the leftovers later, don’t save them! To save money, just cook less so you don’t have the leftovers to begin with if you or your family don’t like them.

If you do intend to eat the leftovers though, make sure you incorporate them into your meal plan for the week, by instituting a leftovers night, or planning to eat them for lunch the following day.

Having a designated area in your refrigerator for leftovers will also help you be mindful of what you’ve got. Once your family is trained to look in a certain spot, and only that spot for leftovers, then they’ll quickly be able to spot what they want and eat it so it doesn’t go to waste.

Further, try to place all leftovers in see through containers, so your family knows what it is, without having to open the container. In addition, you may want to consider using erasable labels (such as the ones shown on the right) on the leftovers containers, to label the date or contents to help people make an informed choice about what they want to eat.

Finally, another idea is to use a running list of leftovers that your family can read, such as posted on the front of the fridge. You can click the link above for a free printable list if you’d like to use this method.

Clear Out Leftovers And Old Food Weekly

Soon before you go to the grocery store each week, perhaps while making your grocery list for the week and planning your weekly menu, or the day before trash day, you should clean out your refrigerator of all old leftovers and other food that is past its prime and will no longer be eaten.

This allows you to take a quick mental inventory of what you’ve got in your fridge, so you can hopefully use it up soon (and incorporate it into your menu for the next week) or make room for the new food that will be coming soon after your grocery trip.

Follow The Last In Last Out Rule

Last week, in the Organize Pantry Challenge, I discussed the last in, last out rule. The same principle applies here. Use up the older milk before drinking the newer milk, or the older frozen vegetables before using the newer ones. This helps ensure you don’t wait so long to eat something that it goes bad before you get to it.

When stocking your refrigerator and freezer make it easy for yourself to follow the rule by placing newer items in the back, or bottom of the freezer, with older items up front or on top so they’re easy to grab when you need them.

Periodically Have An Eat Out Of Your Freezer And Pantry Week

You’ve got to eat what’s in your freezer and pantry periodically, especially if you are a person that likes to buy in bulk or stock up when there are sales. Otherwise those bargains that just get thrown away when they expire or get too old aren’t really a bargain, are they?

One of the things my family does periodically is try to make as many meals as possible from our pantry and freezer during a couple of day to week span, and not spend too much at the grocery that week. We tend to do this right before holidays, when we’re going out of town, since it will be a short grocery shopping week anyway. We’ll just pick up a couple fresh items, and mainly eat what we’ve already got at home.

It saves money (which we then generally spend on gas for the trip) and also uses up some stuff from our food stores to keep us from wasting it later.

It is also a good idea to have a week or so of eating out of your freezer and pantry right before you need to defrost your chest freezer, for instance, since this has to be done periodically anyway to keep it running at its optimum performance.

Update Your Freezer Inventory As You Use And Add Food

I’ve already discussed the freezer inventory above. This is a tool, when actually used consistently, that helps you make the best use out of your frozen food assets.

Consistently Label Everything That Goes Into Your Freezer

For both commercial and homemade frozen food you must develop the habit of labeling everything that goes into your freezer, so you can figure out what it is later, and whether it is something you actually want to eat, without having to open up the package and guess.

Here is a list of the information you should write on your freezer labels:

  • Type of food
  • Approximate servings of food in the container; and
  • Date you placed it in the freezer

You can just use a permanent marker to write on many containers, or you can use some freezer labels (such as the ones shown on the right) for this task.

Tell Me How The Organizing Refrigerator And Freezer Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week’s Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized this area of your home below in the comments.

I also love before and after pictures of refrigerator and freezer organization, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You’ve worked hard to get organized, so now here’s your chance to show off!

I’ve already had several people take this challenge, and send me in their before and after pictures. You can check out what others have already get accomplished, to get some more inspiration and ideas.

  • Hall of Fame {Part 1} {about refrigerator}
  • Hall of Fame {Part 2} {about refrigerator}
  • Hall of Fame {Part 3} {about freezer}

Sneak Peek For Next Week’s Challenge

We’re working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don’t get too distracted from the Organizing Refrigerator and Freezer Challenge this week. However, I want you to know that although this challenge finishes off some of the big areas of kitchen organization in our homes we’re not quite done here in the kitchen quite yet. Since we eat every single day there’s still a couple of areas I want us to work on while we’re already working here in this room.

That means next week we’ll deal with organizing recipes and cookbooks, and then we’ll jump into even more areas of the kitchen, like recycling and trash, and then organizing coupons, and finally meal planning and grocery shopping. Whew, we’ve got a lot of areas to cover in the kitchen don’t we? But it’s not a problem because we’re going slowly, one week at a time!

Cook Great Meals In Less Time With An Instant Pot: Free Course To Learn How

Do you have an Instant Pot hiding in your cabinet? Want to learn how to use it? Sign up for Instant Pot School! It’s free, and it will help you put that time-saver to work!

Learn more about this free course, and why I’m recommending it in my article all about Instant Pot School.

Make Sure You’re Set To Make The Most Of These Organizing Challenges

If you’d like to join a small community of others who are all commmitted to these organizing challenges and decluttering missions, and want more interaction with me, as well as weekly group coaching sessions for the upcoming week’s challenge, I’d urge you to join the private and exclusive Declutter 365 Premium Facebook group (you can learn more about it at the link).

In addition, have you gotten your Declutter 365 Products yet, to make sure you can get even more assistance with decluttering and organizing your home this year? There are both free products (like the Declutter 365 calendar), as well as add-ons, such as daily text messages and a Premium Facebook group.

Some links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission which helps me provide this information to you for free, plus support my family. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me so I only recommend products I would purchase myself, and that I believe would benefit you. To learn more please see my disclosure statement.

Share Your Comments, Tips & Ideas

I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!

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