Refrigerator organization might seem like an odd topic for a blog post, especially a post on a site about writing, editing, and publishing. What does that have to do with writing or other productivity? So much. Let me explain.
Being organized—as long as it’s in a way that works well—saves a lot of time, effort, and energy. As you can see in the photo below, packing a refrigerator is a little bit like playing Tetris. This is what my fridge looked like after one batch cooking session. It has since been revamped a little. That’s the joy of movable shelves and bins. It’s still packed.
I use a variety of types and sizes of food storage containers. It would be difficult to get more food into the big cold box than what I am able to fit in there. After I looked at this photo, I said, “I’d love to get another shelf on the door. We could fit more in there if I did that.” So I hopped onto Amazon and ordered this little cutie. After it arrived a couple of days later, in about 30 seconds, it improved my refrigerator organization.
It now sits right there in that space you see in the photo beneath the bottle of Ortega taco sauce and above the bin with the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I have since moved all of the condiments to a drawer and put the fresh produce on the door to help us eat more vegetables. Don’t you just hate pulling out some vegetable from the crisper only to find that it’s soggy and rotten—again? I know I hate that.
When I heard someone say that she swapped the positions where she keeps her condiments and produce to help with her ADHD and “out of sight, out of mind” problem, I thought it was brilliant. I instantly ran to my kitchen and did the same.
Months later, I guess I can answer the question you’re probably asking right now. Did it help? Not as much as I had hoped! But it did help a little. I haven’t thrown a single veggie into the trash. Some things, I have given to the guinea pigs because they slipped past the point of being tasty for human consumption, but nothing from the door bin has gotten to the point that it has needed to be tossed into the compost or trash.
Refrigerator organization how-to
You and I probably don’t have the same refrigerator. Even if we did, we probably don’t have all of the same food containers. If by some miracle we had all of the same containers, we probably don’t eat the same foods in the same quantities. If we have all of those things in common, then we should form an alliance of some kind!
First, you will need to look at what you have before you buy anything else.
Look at your refrigerator and the containers you have on hand at your house. See what fits in your icebox from what you have already. Pull everything out of your refrigerator and put it in a cooler so it can sit there safely while you play.
Yes, you get to play. Think 3D puzzle. We’re going to play Refrigerator Tetris. Hat tip to the classic video game that improved the packing skills of entire generations.
Pack the empty containers into your refrigerator. What if some of your food containers have food in them? That’s okay. Put them into the refrigerator and move them around. The food in them will stay cool enough.
After you’ve worked with what you have and you’ve identified some empty spots, it’s time to determine what you need to buy.
Containers for refrigerator organization
I recommend glass food storage containers like these for refrigerator organization for two reasons. One is because they reduce the amount of plastic that enters our bodies. The other is because they are versatile. Sets that have only round containers aren’t my preference. Round containers waste space. Rectangular containers make the best use of the space. Note that this set has both round and rectangular containers.
Glass storage containers can be used in the refrigerator, oven, microwave, and even in the freezer. We sure can’t say that about plastic. Chances are, you won’t need to buy a whole lot. One set of storage containers, one door shelf, and maybe one interior rack or shelf, and you’re good to go.
Organize things according to how they fit or according to type of food. I do a combination of the two, with type of consumable taking priority.
Milk on the drink shelf
I have always wanted to keep my jugs of drinks on one shelf together. I don’t like the idea of a gallon of juice being on one shelf and a gallon of iced tea being on another. To have more than one shelf designated to hold the tall jugs is a huge waste of space in my opinion. It’s also a waste of time because people go hunting for the juice when it’s not next to the other drinks, but when the jugs are all grouped together, it’s easier and faster to find one.
For other things, I’m not so particular. I’ll put a jar of olives next to a container of leftovers in a heartbeat if there isn’t any more room on the shelf where I keep individual ingredients. Yes, I have one of those, too.
What’s in the fridge?
From the top down, here’s what I currently have for my refrigerator organization.
- I have a shelf for individual ingredients (olives, tomato paste leftover from making something, butter, cut onion).
- Next is a shelf for leftovers and other “please eat this soon” items.
- Then comes the shelf that holds all the drink jugs: milk, tea, kombucha, juices.
- Below that is the prepared meals shelf, where someone can look instead of asking, “What’s for dinner?”
- Then come the drawers. The top one has condiments, dressings, jellies in it. The other is for raw meats.
The order of the shelves might change from time to time. I might have the drink shelf above the leftovers shelf, as you see in the photo above. But I try to keep the contents of each shelf the same when I can. Will I cram a container of leftovers on top of the kombucha bottles if I need to? You betcha!
Do what works for you, and have fun playing Refrigerator Tetris with me.
Once you have your refrigerator organization handled, you’ll want to fill your fridge. Check out my post on batch cooking, one of the ways I save 10 hours a week so I can write more.