Updated: Nov 17
With National Refrigerator Day just around the corner (yes there is a dedicated day for it, November 15), we wanted to share some of our favorite Neat Little Nest strategies for decluttering + organizing your refrigerator because the last thing you want to do is rummage through your fridge, removing or pushing items aside to get to what you need. Your kitchen should be your happy place especially as we head into the holiday season where you might find yourself cooking more than usual.
start the process by tossing!
Refrigerators contain fresh food, so it's no surprise that the first step to decluttering + organizing a fridge begins by looking at what's in there, how long it has been in there and tossing things out accordingly. The top items we find in refrigerators that might be in yours and could be tossed today include:
Anything with mold
the "how to" organize starts with a sketch
We have learned from our client projects that decluttering + organizing many refrigerators and freezers is easiest (and fastest) when we sketch out a plan before we begin. The sketch doesn't need to be overly complicated, just a goal to get something down on paper. To get started you will need a few measurements to draw up a plan.
think about organizing food into zones based on food quality and freshness
Believe it or not, there are some better places in a fridge to store some items than others. Use the guidelines below as you sketch out your refrigerator plan.
Ready-to-eat foods, such as dairy products, packaged foods, leftovers, cooked meats and prepared salads are best on the top or middle shelves of your fridge. Keep them covered or sealed containers to prevent contamination.
Dedicate one shelf for leftovers.
Raw meat, poultry and fish should be placed on the lower level shelves or drawers, which are typically the coolest.
Vegetables are best stored in a different part of the fridge than fruit. This prevents them from ripening too fast. Most vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, cabbage are best stored in a plastic bag or container designed to keep them fresh in the fridge while mushrooms are best stored in a paper bag.
Certain fruits are best stored in the fridge, but please don’t wash them before you put them in! Berries - blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are very delicate, so keep them dry and covered and wash when you’re ready to eat.
Other fruits like avocados, apples, bananas, citrus, peaches and apricots are best stored out of the fridge. Refrigerating these fruits often results in loss of flavor.
Milk, cream, butter, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products are best stored on a shelf inside the fridge rather than on the door. The fridge door is its warmest area and is subject to the most temperature fluctuations, so avoid storing highly perishable foods there. Unless you are going through milk and other dairy products very quickly, they would benefit from being on a shelf.
Condiments and other well-preserved foods are generally fine on the door.
buy supplies and organize!
Once you have a plan in mind, buy the supplies you need to help you organize the fridge. Neat Little Nest's favorite refrigerator containers are a mix of long clear bins that maximize the depth of the fridge along with food specific containers like egg bins and soda can holders. We have curated our favorite refrigerator bins and our favorite label-making supplies to help bring your vision to life.
use routines to keep your refrigerator tidy
The refrigerator might be the single most important appliance in your home, so a little attention and upkeep goes a long way. At Neat Little Nest, we recommend looking at its contents on a weekly basis during the weekly reset and deep clean every 3 to 4 months. That means putting all your food in a cooler, turning it off, removing the shelves and drawers and washing them with hot soapy water.
Remember, there isn’t a “perfect” method for organizing a refrigerator. People have different food preferences and space needs and no two refrigerators are exactly alike. It takes a bit of trial and error to come up with a system that works specifically for you and your family.
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