After I finished organizing our pantry, I moved on to refrigerator organization for our kitchen. My refrigerator does not stay quite this organized as seen in the photos. These were taken immediately after I finished organizing and over time, items get shoved in or need to be purged. For my family, having the organization bins and ways to reduce plastic definitely reduces the overall clutter in the refrigerator. When we shove plastic bins full of berries or throw the oat milk carton on any shelf, things tend to pile up. We can’t see the items that we have, things go bad, there is more waste, and ultimately it results in more trips to the grocery.
This refrigerator organization post is not to give an unrealistic expectation of a perfectly organized fridge every day.
The point of this post is to provide inspiration to have a place for everything and keep items at their freshest. Beyond just buying glass containers and white bins for a pretty aesthetic, I started researching more heavily where items should be stored within the fridge. I collected any information that I found and compiled it into this post to share how I personally keep my refrigerator organized.
5 Step Refrigerator Organization
1. Purge Your Fridge. The first step to any deep organization project is to first purge everything. Clean everything out of your fridge and toss items that are no longer fresh or expired. Keep anything that is still good to replace when you are done.
2. Clean Your Fridge. I do this by washing any drawers or removable parts with soap and water in the sink. For anything that cannot be removed, I used a non-toxic cleaner with a dishtowel. If anything is stuck, I pull out a Magic Eraser to easily remove it! Always start from the top shelf working your way down in case any dirt falls from the top as you are cleaning. Save the bottom for last to avoid having to double clean.
3. Place the Food You’re Keeping Back Into the Fridge. I work a little quickly when purging and cleaning since everything is technically supposed to stay in the fridge. Once I’m done cleaning, I put everything that I am keeping back into the fridge while I work on the next steps.
4. Take Inventory. Now that you have replaced the items back into your fridge, you can take an inventory of the items that you frequently keep stored. You want to buy bins based on these items to organize your fridge. Do you keep a lot of fresh produce? Do you have a lot of kids' drinks or pouches? Do you keep a lot of wine or beer? We keep a good amount of La Croix in two different flavors, so I bought two separate canned drink holders. See the items I purchased below!
5. Buy Your Items to Organize. Once your bins have arrived, you can replace any plastics that you previously had your food stored in, and decant your items into your new storage bins.
Items to Buy For Easy Organizing
Egg Holder. This holder doesn't just make my egg looks cute. It is both cute and functional. We used to pull the cardboard container out of the fridge every time we needed eggs, all while juggling multiple items in our hands. We keep this ceramic holder on the top shelf of our fridge and grab the eggs that we need without having to pop up a top. We recycle the cardboard container they come in and stack multiple eggs, so don't worry about how many you can fit. We make a pyramid because we buy a lot of fresh eggs.
Water Pitcher. I forgot to put this pitcher back in the fridge when I was taking photos, but it's for both functional and looks. I love white and wood in my kitchen, if you haven't already noticed, and this water pitcher gives me both. We have a triple filtered system for our home, but I still use a water pitcher in the fridge for cold water. I love ice-cold water, so we keep it full in the fridge when we want a refreshing glass.
Round Glass Storage Containers. We use these mostly for leftovers. We have some from IKEA with the bamboo lid, but those are already starting to crack from everyday use in our kitchen. We have a mix of square, round, and rectangle containers. I love using these instead of plastic storage ware!
Drink Holders. We keep two flavors of La Croix in our home. We added these to our refrigerator to keep our drinks organized. We were previously trying to grab drinks directly from the box. The boxes not only took up space, but they are also a pain to stick your hand in to grab a drink out of every time you want one.
Cotton Produce Bags. We buy clementines for Thea, and I have a hard time reaching in the bags they come in with the holes. I can never find the opening, my fingers get stuck, and it's just annoying. I take the time to put my fruit into these bags and store them in the fresh drawers in our fridge.
Glass Storage Containers. I mentioned these earlier. The rectangle containers I use more to store food, fewer leftovers. I typically transfer our baby carrots or fresh items such as meat if we did buy it that week.
Large Produce Container. This container is pretty large for our refrigerator, BUT, it is perfect for kale, broccoli, or when we go strawberry picking and need a container large enough to fit all of them.
Herb Jar. This is the type of jar that I use for our fresh herbs. I put a little bit of water in the bottom, chop the ends of the herbs to give them a fresh cut, spray them with water and dry them, then place them in the jar to go in our fridge. They keep much longer having water to give them life.
Berry Container. This is our most used container. We take the white container out of the plastic bin to wash our berries, let them dry, then place it back in the clear bin and into our fridge. It is so easy to grab berries and keeps air circulating for them.
Where should food be stored in the fridge to keep it fresh?
The sections in your fridge and how food should be stored vary depending on the model of your fridge. We have an older fridge with the freezer on top, so as you can see, my specific storage may be different. However, there are general ways to store food in the refrigerator to keep food at its freshest.
Top Shelf: We keep our eggs, yogurt, and everyday items on the top shelf. This shelf is meant to store items that are used often and ready to be served daily. Most of these items get thrown in and out of the fridge, so the top shelf is an easy spot for access. I bought storage bins to pull forward instead of having to reach when I do need these items.
Middle Section: This is where we keep our leftovers in clear glass containers. We eat leftovers within 3-4 days and toss if they don’t get eaten within that time. We try to also cook only what we know we will eat to avoid having to toss food creating waste. We don’t eat a ton of meat, but when we do have chicken or meat in our fridge, it gets stored on the middle shelf in a clear glass container.
Bottom Shelf: This is where we store any milk whether vegan or non-vegan milk. We keep our soda water on this shelf as well because the storage bins fit perfectly under the cheese drawer as seen in the pictures.
Bottom Drawers: Also known as the “fresh” or “crisper” drawers. These drawers are placed at the bottom section of the fridge with high humidity to keep produce at its freshest. I store ripe avocados, berries, lettuce, kale, apples, and any produce that we eat on a daily basis but needs to be kept crisp until we get to it.
Cheese + Deli Drawer: We don’t buy deli meat, but we use this drawer to store cheese because we love to keep fresh blocks of cheese on hand. We also keep cream cheese and topping that relate to that category in this drawer.
Refrigerator Door Interior: We keep coconut water, condiments, and items that don’t need to be kept at the coolest temperature in the fridge. The door is the warmest section, so it’s best to avoid keeping dairy and items that need to be stored at a certain temperature.
What food should not be stored in the fridge?
I don’t store my bananas in the fridge. We buy them yellow/green to ripen by sitting on our counter as we eat them daily. We don’t store our onions, garlic, or potatoes in the fridge. We keep these stored in baskets in our pantry as I mentioned in my Pantry Organization post.
Greens: I have found that our greens keep best in our fridge if they are unwashed prior to refrigeration and uncut. Once they are washed, the moisture can make the greens mold more quickly. I keep lettuce uncut and unwashed in one of the bottom fresh drawers. For items such as spinach, I keep it in the plastic bin that it comes in to allow air to circulate through the container and wash it before cooking with it.
Tomatoes/Fruit: I keep all of my tomatoes and fruit in the fridge if they are ripe. If they need more time to ripen, I keep them on display in a wooden bowl in our kitchen.
Berries: I keep berries washed and in containers with breathing holes to allow air to circulate. We eat berries every day, so having them washed and ready to easily grab is an everyday necessity for my kitchen.
Herbs: I wash our herbs and allow them to dry on the counter for a few hours. I place them in a jar with a small amount of water on the bottom and place them in the fridge. They keep much longer. When we have green onions, I change the water a few times and they keep longer. Some suggest keeping celery in a small jar of water, but we don’t keep celery long enough to do this. If you use celery often, you might want to try keeping the stalks in a jar with a small amount of water on the bottom.
Cut Produce: When I have fresh produce that I only used part of, I store it in a sealed glass container. Some suggest allowing air to circulate, but I have found that it keeps longer if stored in a sealed container.
How to Maintain Refrigerator Organization in Everyday Life: You can keep up your organization by making a note to tidy the fridge 1-2x per week, tossing anything that needs to go. I typically only do this 1x per week and it’s only grocery shopping days. This way, I can see what we have run out of or tossed. Realistically, our fridge can be all over the place, but with the bins and glass jars to organize, it is so much easier to take into account what we have on a daily basis.
Check Labels For Refrigerator Notice: Occasionally there are items that need to be refrigerated after opening that we may not realize need to be. A few examples are chocolate syrup, almond butter, some peanut butter brands, and ketchup.