Fresh Tips For Refrigerator Reorganization
Jars of jam comingling with milk jugs. Expired lemon curd for a trifle that never got made. Languishing leftovers in plastic wrap. If your refrigerator looks anything like mine, it’s time for an intervention.
Enter Gayle Goddard, who runs The Clutter Fairy, a professional organizing business in Houston. Goddard gets paid to clean out other people’s refrigerators. But given a half-hour or so, redoing the fridge is definitely something you can tackle yourself, no matter how far gone your situation.
This cool project is worth the effort. “An orderly refrigerator can hold more stuff and save money by helping you spot ingredients that need to be used before they go bad,” Goddard says. A tidy interior might even make your ingredients look more appetizing and inspiring. And because you can easily grab just what you need, it’s a sanity- and time-saver.
To pack your fridge like the pros, Goddard offers these pointers:
Put a Spin on It
A small turntable, otherwise known as a Lazy Susan, is perfect for storing refrigerated condiments and spreads that come in small jars, such as mustard, pickles, and jam. Placing one or two on a lower shelf gives you better access to food that typically gets lost at the back of the refrigerator. Instead of rummaging, you can just spin the turntable to grab what you need. There’s less risk of jars getting knocked over and spilling, or getting lost in the abyss.
While you’re at it, use a deep-sided turntable on your refrigerator’s top shelf, for beverages such as juice, water, and milk.
Use Bins to Create Zones
Fruits and vegetables have their own designated drawers. Why shouldn’t other foods get their space, too? Goddard suggests creating secondary storage areas throughout your fridge. “The idea is to create zones for specific items, just like you would if you were reorganizing your closet,” Goddard says. For example, store food that comes in tall bottles, such as ketchup and soy sauce, in clear, plastic, narrow storage bins; and rearrange the shelves so there’s plenty of headroom.
For incoming meat, place a wider plastic bin on the bottom shelf. “If juicy packages of meat leak, you can just take the bin out and wash it,” Goddard says. You can also use bins to stack cans of soda, seltzer, baby bottles, and other beverages.
Designate Door Space
On the door, assign shelves for items that aren’t extra perishable, such as condiments you use less often. It’s the warmest part of the fridge, so avoid putting things like eggs and milk there.
Segment Your Freezer
Goddard suggests filling your freezer with bins, as well, for targeted items such as meat, frozen fruits and vegetables, and bread. “Think of your freezer like a big box to be segmented,” she says. Plastic bins help you store more in less space, which can save money. For example, when meat—which can take the biggest bite out of the budget—goes on sale, that’s the time to stock up and freeze it for later. Compartmentalizing can help you take advantage of the full cubic volume of your freezer.
To keep your fridge uncluttered, resist the urge to stuff it full. So what if milk is on sale? Buying three gallons when your fridge can only comfortably hold two creates a management problem. Instead, leave some breathing room. “Using moderation when you’re shopping can decrease your fridge aggravation,” Goddard says. “When you buy more than will fit, you won’t be able to easily use what’s there.”
To make sure nothing goes bad, Goddard advocates making a weekly meal plan that calls for ingredients you already have and filling in with whatever you don’t have on hand.