Looking for some tips for freezer and refrigerator organization that actually work?
By and large, I am a neat and organized person. I don't have piles of clutter lying around and I have a ‘place for everything and everything in its place' mentality that pretty much orders our home.
But, truth be told, that mentality comes to a screeching halt when you open our refrigerator and freezer.
Well, let me put that past tense…it used to come to a screeching halt when you opened our refrigerator and freezer. I finally realized that I needed to take the bull by the horns and figure out freezer and refrigerator organization that really worked for my family.
Like any other organization system, the most important step you need to take is to really examine how your current system works for you or is failing you. For me, I know that large, open spaces are an invitation to disaster. They just invite me to toss and forget.
In our kitchen fridge/freezer, the lack of designated spaces resulted in foods just being jammed in wherever there was space. As a result, highly perishable foods were often pushed to the back and spoiling before they were uncovered.
In our spare refrigerator, this resulted in…well… just a mess. This spare fridge has morphed into a second pantry for all the items I buy in bulk and that benefit from being kept at a cooler temperatures (flours, grains, nuts, etc…)
In both refrigerators, I first took everything out and used the opportunity to wipe down all the shelves and toss all expired foods and foods that I know just won't be eaten.
N&N Tip: Use Rubbing Alcohol to wipe down your freezer…it won't freeze like water will.
Then I re-positioned shelves to best accommodate what would be stored on those shelves.
I knew I wanted to reorganize my kitchen fridge to keep all the most perishable items and foods that I wanted to get eaten sooner (leftovers) on the top shelf…in plain sight.
In my spare fridge, I adjusted the shelves and made the top shelf just tall enough to hold tall boxes of pasta inside of a container just for pastas. Not only will all pastas be on this shelf, but any other tall items and temporary items will be here too.
By moving the shelves in the spare fridge up, I was better able to use the space below it.
In the pull out drawer, which used to house the moshpit of my bags of nuts and seeds…
I purchased and labeled individual containers for each item. I measured carefully and found these containers to use as much of the space as possible, leaving very little unused space in the drawer. This drawer went from moshpit to military drill formation in a snap…and I can EASILY tell what I have and what I need to get!
I have figured out that my organization style really requires smaller spaces for designated items and now I am applying that to my fridge.
Also in my spare fridge, I corralled all the other bulk flours, grains, etc… that were stashed in bags throughout and put them in larger bins on a shelf that I adjusted to make just big enough for the containers. There are 8 containers on this shelf, 2 rows of 4.
The vegetable/fruit bins of my spare fridge now hold (in alphabetical order!) all my bulk spices…the top bin for savory spices and the bottom bin for ‘sweet', baking spices. Which brings me to my second, third and fourth tips for freezer and refrigerator organization :
To that end, I purchased some clear organization bins that would hold specific, like items.
Our kitchen freezer now has 4 bins; one for cold cuts/meats, one for cheese, one for frozen vegetables and one for our smoothie fixings.
Once again, I spent a good deal of time making sure that I optimized every inch of space on each shelf…the bins I purchased were the very biggest I could find and still have room for 2 bins on each shelf.
We now also have breads and jam/jellies in their own bins on the same shelf in the kitchen fridge.
Our spare freezer has a bin that will only hold all the ingredients I use for certain Asian and Thai dishes, like our very favorite Pad Thai.
When I am making those dishes, it will be so convenient to pull out the one bin as opposed to digging through to find each little ingredient.
Throughout this process, as much as possible, I am keeping logical things together.
In our spare freezer, I have designated a shelf for all of our teen son's quick, go-to prepared meals for when he is dashing in and out. Nothing else will go on this shelf…which is a win for me as he won't scatter other stuff while looking for his grub.
The door of our kitchen fridge holds all our condiments (other than jellies/jams) and all beverages.
In our kitchen freezer, I designated the very bottom bin for lunch items and the very top shelf for sauces/condiments/ingredients that I use frequently to cook; things like chiles en adobo, tomato paste cubes, pesto cubes, dipping sauce, etc…
So…recently we were having a leftover dinner and I took out of the fridge what I thought was marinara sauce and I told the family that we were having spaghetti for dinner. While it was sitting on the counter defrosting, I realized it was actually chili, so I amended our dinner menu. After it was cooked, I realized it was actually Pork in Chipotle Sauce…quite different…imagine their surprise when they sat down to pork tacos instead of chili
I can't tell you how many times this has happened in my world. I don't want to write with permanent marker on all my containers and while I thought that dry erase would work it just melted off with the condensation.
After doing a little research, I settled on these Freezer Labels.
I am using these labels for more than just meals; in the process of cleaning out my fridge and freezer I came across some perfectly good ‘grain' of some type. But I just didn't know what it was…whether it was a mix of some sort or a straight up grain…so I ended up tossing it out! Needless to say, I am doing a much better job of labeling now.
I finished this organization 2 months ago and am pleased to say that my system seems to be working. We are doing a much better of job of eating up leftovers and highly perishables as they are *right there* when we open the fridge. After this initial organization, I have a good idea of what we actually have in our fridge and knowing where everything should be will make it easier to figure out what I do need before I head to the grocery store.
Everyone's fridge is configured differently and we have different things in our fridges. You might not have a grain silo (sheepish look) in your spare fridge or might not even have a need for a spare fridge. But these tips can work for everyone…the important thing is to really ‘study' how your current freezer and refrigerator organization works…or doesn't work… and then go from there.
If you have an additional tip for freezer and refrigeration organization, please pass it on below. I get a little geeky about organization.
So, just to recap:
Bookmark this post or pin it for your future Freezer and Refrigerator Organization project!
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