Organizing Your Refrigerator in a Few Easy Steps

written by Nellie Lazar, CRS
Turlock, CA   
Apr 26, 2021


While cleaning out the fridge seems like a commonsense task, I must admit mine hadn’t had a thorough cleaning since the holidays. With a family of five, and three sons in various stages of covid-style college and post-college life, there are many hands that go in and out of our refrigerator on a daily basis. You can imagine the scenario! Fortunately, I’ve had a functional organizational footprint in place since I bought our fridge about three years ago. I also learned to stop grocery shopping on speculation, and rather shop based on my family’s weekly needs and according to whatever meal plan I have in place. Adhering to this rule, means I’m not overfilling the fridge with items that could potentially end up being forgotten, and it ensures that we’re eating fresh food. Because I utilize clear storage containers that I’ve placed in designated zones, cleaning is much easier than it used to be when things were placed in the fridge just willy-nilly. Below are some simple steps you can implement yourself.

The first step is a given… empty out the fridge and clean the shelves, bins, door, and sides. If you haven’t done this in a long time, I recommend using a solution of 1 part baking soda to 7 parts water.  You can use a spray bottle to apply, and wipe off with paper towels.  If you’re good at maintenance, then periodic cleaning with a disinfectant wipe. That is my go-to, and then I just dry off with a paper towel.

At this point, if you don’t have designated zones, you might consider establishing them. It makes distributing groceries so much easier. I think zone areas vary by each individual family. Given the architecture of our fridge and our personal food habits, our zones are broken down like this for our side by side refrigerator/freezer: Top shelf is for wine (stored on it’s side in this container) (Wine storage from Amazon), eggs (egg holder from Amazon), and leftover containers. The next shelf has large beverage containers like milk, juices, milk alternatives, and pickled items like peppers, dill pickles, olives, etc. I’ve utilized lazy susans specifically for the refrigerator so that we don’t have to pull everything out to get to the container that might be in the back of the fridge. These are a good option.

There are various sizes out there, and you’ll want one that fits with the dimensions of your own refrigerator shelves. Below our built-in meat and cheese drawers, I keep dairy items like butter, yogurt, and sour cream in a rectangular clear container that can be pulled out. On that same shelf, I keep jams, spreads, and other small jarred items on a couple of lazy susans. I have these, which can also be used in the pantry:

On the next shelf, I have a clear open front bin that houses sport drinks and sodas. And, next to that two separate clear bins with handles for condiments… mayo, mustards, sandwich spreads in one, and various sauces in another. Again, depending on your refrigerator’s footprint, your containers will need to adapt. We have two vertically placed drawers just below the shelves. One is a crisper drawer and the other can be used interchangeably. I like to maximize the life of my fruits and veggies by properly storing them. Doing this is a simple google search if for example you aren’t sure what the best method for storing your lettuce is. Taking the time to remove your produce from the store-provided plastic bags and storing them for their best shelf life, means that you’ll have a clear view of what’s in your crisper drawer, and less chance for waste. I use a combination of Ziploc bags, plastic wrap, and clear lidded bins. Pre-packaged items like salad mix and shredded vegetables are kept in a rectangular bin. This keeps them in place, so they don’t slide around and get lost. These containers are a great option.

Nellia Lazar Refrigerator

I hope I’ve given you a bit of inspiration and perhaps some good ideas to get you started on organizing your refrigerator.  On my next post, I’ll focus on the freezer…. stay tuned!