Once I finished organizing our pantry, I started researching how to organize your refrigerator to complete our kitchen organize. 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 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, and there is overall more waste. This ultimately results in more trips to the grocery from food being wasted.
In this post, I'm going to give you how to organize your refrigerator in a realistic way to help you declutter your fridge and help your food stay fresher for longer.
The point of this post is to provide inspiration to have a place for everything and keep items at their freshest. This goes beyond just buying glass containers and white bins for a pretty aesthetic. I started researching more heavily on the topic of where items should be stored within the fridge. I collected any information that I found and compiled it into this post to share how to organize your refrigerator with a system in place and an understanding of where everything should go.
How to Organize Your Refrigerator In 5 Steps
1. PURGE YOUR REFRIGERATOR.
The first step to any deep organization project is to first purge everything. You start by cleaning everything out of your fridge and tossing 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 drawers or any removable parts with soap and water in the kitchen sink. For anything that cannot be removed, I use a non-toxic cleaner with a dishtowel. If anything is particularly stuck, I pull out a Magic Eraser to easily remove it. I always start from the top shelf working my way down in case any dirt falls from the top as I am cleaning. I save the bottom shelf for last to avoid having to double-clean.
3. PLACE THE FOOD YOU ARE KEEPING BACK INTO THE REFRIGERATOR.
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 give your fridge maximum organization based on what your family actually buys. 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 REFRIGERATOR ORGANIZATION ITEMS.
Since these are one of the biggest parts of how to organizae your refrigerator, it's time to plan out the bins that you will need. Use your inventory to write down a list of items that you will need and place your order for your new refrigerator organization bins. Once they have arrived, you can replace any plastics that you previously had your food stored in and decant your items into your new organization bins.
Items to Buy For Easy Refrigerator Organization
This egg holder is one of the best ways to maintain organization in your fridge. It not only makes eggs look cute, but it's also very functional! I used to pull the cardboard container out of the fridge every time that I needed eggs, all while juggling multiple items in my hands. We keep this ceramic holder on the top shelf of our fridge and grab the eggs that we need without having to pop open the 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.
I forgot to put this pitcher back in the fridge when I was taking photos, but it's for both functionality 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.
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 rectangular containers. I love using these instead of plastic storage ware!
As I mentioned earlier, we keep two flavors of La Croix in our home. We added these drink holders 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 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 mesh holes. I can never find the opening, my fingers get stuck, and it's overall annoying. I take the time to put my fruit into these bags and store them in the fresh drawers in our fridge. It makes it much easier on a daily basis!
I bought several of these for the top shelf. I use them to collect all of the random jars and containers in our fridge from sour cream, and jam, to pickles and sun-dried tomato jars.
RECTANGLE GLASS STORAGE CONTAINERS
I use these rectangular containers to store food and leftovers. I typically transfer our baby carrots or fresh items such as meat if we did buy it that week as well. These fit a bit better than the round containers because they fit like legos inside the refrigerator.
LARGE PRODUCE CONTAINERS
These containers are 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.
I wanted this wine holder for its beautiful white ceramic feature. We don't keep a ton of bottles in our fridge, so having the space for two is more than enough. I keep it on the top shelf since it is the smallest shelf in your refrigerator and the bottoms lay perfectly flat on top of the ceramic holder.
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. You can also store green onions in this type of jar with a small amount of water in the bottom, placing the bulbs and roots directly into the water to give them something to continue growing in.
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. I don't recommend putting any of these parts in the dishwasher as they will melt and bend, which is a downside!
CONTAINER WITH DIVIDER
We use this to keep extra fresh produce such as limes and jalapenos as pictured, but it's great for keeping snacks and cheese sticks as well.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR REFRIGERATOR IN EVERYDAY LIFE
You can keep up your refrigerator 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 have already 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 and do a quick tidy before heading to the grocery.
CHECK LABELS FOR REFRIGERATION
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.
Where should food be stored in the refrigerator?
How to organize your refrigerator 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.
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.
This is where we keep our leftovers in clear glass containers. We eat leftovers within 3-4 days and toss them 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.
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.
CHEESE & MEAT 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 toppings that relate to that category in this drawer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.