Doesn't the image of an organized fridge just fill you with excitement? Not only is it enjoyable to look at but it makes it so much easier to find what you are looking for! Sadly, most fridges only stay organized for a short while.
Multiple people living in a household, busy schedules, unloading groceries in a hurry are just a few reasons things get out of sorts. The most frustrating thing about a disorganized refrigerator is that items often get lost or overlooked, leading to duplicate purchases. Then, when we take the time to clean and organize, we find numerous items that have spoiled or expired. You know - things like those two, or three half-used jars of pickles, salsa, condiments... look in your fridge right now... I'm sure you'll find something to add to the list. I'm guilty of it myself!
So, how can we keep from losing track of things and maintain an organized fridge? A little work, planning, and maintenance are all it takes.
1. Start with a deep purge and clean-out
Empty the entire fridge, shelf by shelf, and sort everything into categories. Recycle or throw away any expired items and give it a good cleaning.
Consider using liners - I have glass shelves, so I use shelf liner on some shelves to keep the glass from scratching. It also makes cleanup a lot easier! A friend of mine loves using special liners for her veggie drawers, to keep produce fresh longer. However, I have not tried them personally.
Determine your zones - where you want to store each category of food items. The upper shelf could hold taller bottles - so drinks might be a good choice to place there. You could use one shelf or drawer for dairy items and another for fruit. Decide what gets used the most and what makes sense for your family. There are several posts with expert fridge-packing advice on how to keep its contents fresh.
Use storage bins to contain items such as fruits, yogurts, vegetables or even small bottles or jars. There are multiple sizes and styles available, some are stackable or offer lids. I often suggest using turntables when organizing small bottles and jars, depending on the layout of your fridge and your needs.
This is the most important step! Get into a routine of quickly straightening and inventorying the space once a week before you plan your grocery list. This will give you an overview of what you have or need and lets you create space for the new items. Take care of any spills or crumbs while you are at it to keep things looking nice.
Moving forward, be sure to take a few extra minutes to unpack your groceries into their intended spaces and continue to follow Step #5. There will be times when you have too much food to keep things in order, like after a large grocery run or following a party. Try to make the best use of the space and get organized again as soon as those extra items are used up.