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Organizing your refrigerator

Updated on August 10, 2015
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I can't believe I'm writing about refrigerators

How to organize your refrigerator? Really, I promise I can't believe this. If anyone had told me that one day I'd be writing about how to organize a fridge, I'd have thought they were crazy. Either that or I was going to be suddenly turned into a Stepford Wives type robot.

But this morning, I was putting the groceries away and thought to myself 'this is a well-organized fridge.' I was a bit horrified at the thought quite frankly, because even my best friend would never even think of calling me a domestic goddess - far from it.

You see, people who visit our home are often interested in our fridge. (Perhaps we have strange friends!) That's mainly because it's much smaller than the normal American refrigerators. We had to get a small model because we have a tiny kitchen but nevertheless, it does a sterling job keeping food for two people fresh - in an organized manner. Organization is truly the key to making the most of small spaces.

Just as a side note, the fridge is approaching ten years old now and cost $99 because it had a small scratch inside.

By the way, don't you just love those adverts for fridges showing their beautifully color-coordinated contents? You know the sort of thing I mean - those photographs that show a refrigerator containing several bottles of Perrier water, a bowl of limes, an artfully-arranged pineapple, a stylish Italian can of olive oil, a bunch of grapes and lots and lots and lots and lots of curly lettuce. Grape, lime and pineapple salad anyone?Where's the ketchup? Don't these people have the remnants of last night's pizza?

What about all those jars and bottles that we all accumulate?Don't worry, you're not going to see a photograph of an immaculate fridge. But if you have a refrigerator that could do with a little help, you might find a few of these ideas useful. Let's start with the fridge door...

I did warn you

Yes, there's the ketchup! Something that annoyed me about our teeny tiny fridge was the lack of depth in the door's shelves. So can you spot what we did?

We had some flexible white wooden strip left over from some DIY project or another, so I put strips of it in place of the shelves' fronts. Because this bows outwards, it increases the depth of the shelves, especially in the middle.

This very simple trick gives the fridge a lot more storage space.I have a rule that items that need to be used first are stored in the top shelf. In the middle of the shelf is a green food storage bag and any fruit or vegetables that quite desperately need eating soon, go in there.

My husband is also finally trained (as well as any husband can ever be trained) to look there first when he's foraging for a snack. You'll see that there's a nearly-out-of-date half pack of hummus there and I know that there are a couple of carrots in my use-it-first bag. So in the unlikely event of my dearly-beloved persuading me to make his snack, hummus with carrot sticks to dip immediately comes to mind.

Moving down to the next shelf, you'll see that it's now deep enough to hold jars. I keep scallions (or spring onions as I call them) in a jar there. I put a tiny amount of water in the jar and I have persuaded myself that this makes them last longer. The same applies to the bunch of cilantro that you see there. You'll notice that there's still room for other items. On the bottom shelf, is the famous ketchup!

A journey to the interior

I like to keep jars and bottles in containers. That way, I can just slide the container out and take what I need without having to rummage at the back of the fridge. It also means that if 'anyone' (and I bet you know who I mean) makes himself a sandwich and lets chutney or whatever dribble down the outside of the jar, it's not going to work its way down to the lower shelves. I put a piece of paper towel in the bottom of each container so that the containers themselves rarely need cleaning.

The two containers top left are office organizers I think, but the one on the right is some random piece of packaging that was too sturdy to put into the recycling bin.The one below, on the left, is a sturdy plastic box that was originally intended for shoe storage.

Going down!

I normally avoid storage containers that are circular because they waste space but the one on the left on the next shelf down was the exact size to hold the tomatoes I have.

This container is also packaging; it originally contained fruit. I save packaging a lot to reuse throughout the house.

I've never understood why many people don't store their eggs cartons standing on their sides; they take up much less space, but I always put a strong rubber band around it to keep it closed.Another container that was intended to be a shoe box is on the shelf below. This is our cheese stash. We're vegetarian and eat a lot of cheese so it's honored by having its own special box.

Like the other containers, it has a paper towel liner and it also has a use-this-first green bag. I keep a lid on this because the cheeses we like can be stinky!If we ate meat and fish, I'd use the lidded shoe box idea for those too. Expensive fridges come with special meat and fish compartments - the shoe box is the cheap way to create your own!

Keeping the fridge clean

I've read quite a few articles and blog posts about the 'nightmare' of cleaning the fridge. I don't find it a problem. Every time there are groceries to go into the fridge (we shop roughly once a week) I give the interior a wipe over.

Because jars are in containers there are rarely any spills or gooey stuff to clean.It's true that I don't have children in the house but a husband is far worse than the average seven year old for making a mess. If a child is old enough to go to the fridge for a snack, then they are old enough to avoid spills and mess in my opinion!

Further reading

I proudly consider myself as an expert in home organization and living in a small space. I'm not bragging here :) I want to say that the reason for this is because over the years, I have read a huge amount on the subject. There are some fabulous books with some simply brilliant ideas. See the selection below.

Photographs

All images taken by me in my own home.

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    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      I am always looking for new ideas to organize everything in home, thanks for sharing some really nice ideas.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I like a well organized refrigerator. It let you see at a glance what you have.

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 4 years ago

      Organizing is indeed important! Helps you find stuff easier and lets you know which should be consumed first. You've provided great ideas for organizing the refrigerator. Thanks for sharing those ideas and for sharing the contents of your fridge! :) The tips will surely come in handy!

    • BestForTheMoneyz profile image

      BestForTheMoneyz 4 years ago

      Hmm, mine have never really been that organized ;) Great tip and good ideas,

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 4 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I try to organize my fridge as much as possible but sometimes I am still surprised when I found bottles and jar of unknown origin somewhere in the background...Thank you for the tips!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great simple and easy ideas for keeping your fridge clean and tidy

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very cool! Mine looks overstuffed in comparison! I like your ideas, especially on avoiding spills.

    • Silwen LM profile image

      Silwen LM 4 years ago

      It is nice, that you share the content of your fridge with us. I am usually quite messy with fridge. But your lens is quite inspirational. I should go and organize my food.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Webinaut: A useful tip - thank you!

    • profile image

      AMMUGURU 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing

    • Webinaut profile image

      Webinaut 4 years ago

      This is a great, comprehensive lens. I must to admit being a messy husband!I have one (hopefully constructive) comment, based on my experience as a commercial hydroponic tomato grower - tomatoes should never be stored in a fridge, always at room temperature.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @MarcellaCarlton: Thank you - simple but effective!

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Where's the beef?...just teasing.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      I love the idea about the eggs. I really had never thought about storing them on their sides. Wonderful idea.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Phillyfreeze: Haha! Thanks for visiting!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Thank you for visiting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very handy tips. Thanks!

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Lynda Makara: Thank you so much - and yes, it's teeny-tiny!

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 4 years ago from California

      Wow, that is a tiny fridge! I like your tip about putting jars in plastic containers. Very clever ideas. Angel blessings.

    • BritFlorida profile image
      Author

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @firstcookbooklady: Thanks for visiting and for your comment! Funnily, we're just the same way - he could eat salad all day but for me, it's OK once in a while.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Hello: a few notes - I love [and may use..] the plastic box idea. We use a few quart size ziplock bags for storing cut vegetables for salads, but, yes the wilted lettuce, icky tomato thing is quite familiar. [He is a salad person, I am not] His favorite, currently, is a popcorn salad, which amounts to grapes, onion, celery, miracle whip and popcorn. Tasty, but simple. [I'm still not a salad person] Thanks for liking my lens!