I can never seem to find anything in my refrigerator. I rearrange my fridge frequently but between my kids and husband, I can’t maintain any type of order. What steps can I take to organize my fridge and freezer?
Sarah, San Diego
Refrigerators can be a challenge, especially when you have many hands reaching in throughout the day. To create long-lasting order, consider how your favorite grocery store departmentalizes their merchandise. Mimic this template and it will be easier for you and your family to remember where to find and return items in your refrigerator.
Every refrigerator has a different configuration. Your solutions might involve a variation of the theme because of your fridge layout.
Start this process by creating spaces for “like with like” for instance, dairy with dairy, meat with meat and so on.
Most refrigerators have a butter door. Because of this, we seldom have a problem locating the butter. The margarine and cheese are probably a different story. If your fridge is not equipped with a drawer for dairy, create your own drawer. Buy a long narrow plastic bin that runs the depth of your shelf. Put all of your cheeses into this container. Following your grocery format, locate lunchmeats and other meats next to the cheese in a similar container.
There are usually more condiments than space within your door pockets. Keep the most frequently used condiments in the door and the remaining sauces grouped together towards the back of your shortest shelf.
Beverages follow a similar pattern. Keep a few in the door and the rest clustered together on the top and back of the tallest shelf, which is generally the coldest zone. If you mix your own juices, keep this decanter next to the other bottles and jugs.
Leftovers and prepared foods should have their own zone on the short shelf. Note: when purchasing plastic storage containers, buy square or rectangular shapes. Round bowls create wasted space and do not fit well side by side.
If your family eats more than a dozen eggs per week, consider forgoing the egg container provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. Instead, stack your eggs in their original cardboard crates on top of each other on the short shelf beside the cheese and meat bins. If the open access of the manufacturer’s bin appeals to you, stack it on top of the remaining closed egg crate. When you are ready to cook breakfast, all ingredients are close together. Grab the eggs, cheese and meat bins and you are ready to create your favorite omelet!
For quick snacks, consider keeping a bowl of peeled carrots, cut celery or other healthy foods in a bowl located on the front of the shelf nearest eye level. This might distract the hungry hands that normally root around and rearrange the fridge.
Stack flat boxes together in the freezer. Frozen leftovers should be stored in square or rectangular containers whenever possible. Juices with juices, ice cream with ice cream and so on.
Store your frozen vegetable bags in the door whenever possible. If you have more bags than door space, consider keeping them in their own plastic bin. This allows you to stack them together and avoid the hazard of them toppling out of the freezer when you open the door.
To optimize morning smoothie preparation, store your frozen fruits in a long narrow plastic bin. Each morning, simply pull this bin from the freezer, choose the fruit necessary to create your desired flavor and return the remaining fruit to the freezer. A smoothie bin makes it easy to grab the ingredients with little effort. It also keeps sticky fruit residues off of the kitchen counter and the freezer shelf.
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San Diego Professional Organizer