Your fridge is one of the most important appliances in your home.
But it’s all to easy to let your fridge become a nightmare of bad odors, cluttered containers, and even molded food.
You don’t want to let your refrigerator turn into a science experiment, do you?
Well, neither do I.
Keeping your fridge clean and organized can be an art. The good news is that it’s an easy art to master.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to keep my fridge organized and clean, and now it’s time to pass some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned on to you.
Once you’ve mastered these simple tricks your days of pulling out molded leftovers and mushy vegetables will be behind you. Plus, your fridge will look and smell nicer.
You’ll even spend less on groceries since less of your food will go to waste.
Sound good to you? Let’s get started.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How to organize your fridge, and keep it that way
- How to make the most of your groceries, and help them last longer
- Odor eliminating fridge cleaning tips
- And Much More!
What's in this Guide?
Hacks to Stay Organized
Organization is key to making your fridge more manageable. You’re a lot more likely to forget about leftovers, buy food you don’t need, and let your produce spoil if you don’t have a well organized refrigerator.
These helpful tricks (and tools) will make it much easier to keep your refrigerator organized in the long run.
Hack #1: Baskets
Baskets are your fridge’s best friend for organization. The limited drawers and sections of your fridge leave you with a lot of open space for food and condiments to get lost.
Enter fridge baskets. Good baskets for the refrigerator should be make of plastic because you don’t want wicker splinters getting in your food. You can also go with clear plastic bins for your kitchen fridge depending on what look you want to go for.
Keep different baskets for different kinds of food. So, vegetables can go in one basket, fruits in another, meats in a third, and so on.
You can also organize by ingredients for meals, but that can take up a lot more space than organizing by the type of ingredient.
Baskets are also a fantastic idea for living with roommates or in a multi-generational home. They’ll let you separate your groceries into different sections. No more roommates eating your leftovers!
Hack #2: Tupperware
Tupperware used to be such a huge thing, and it’s a little sad that it’s not still more popular today.
Why do I say that?
Because when tupperware parties were really popular and tupperware itself was a big deal, there were more specialized types of tupperware.
Still, there are lots of good glass and plastic options that come in lots of sizes for meal-prep and keeping your leftovers. These can be fantastic for making the most of your refigerator space.
I really recommend going with glass over plastic. As long as you take care of the glass it’ll last longer than plastic tupperware, plus it’s much more environmentally friendly.
I also think it’s a good idea to get a set, like the Bayco Glass Food Storage Set, that comes in several different sizes and with mostly square containers. Square and rectangular containers take up less space in your refrigerator and stack and organize more easily.
Hack #3: Labels
Labels are a huge part of refrigerator organization. Getting a good label maker is a great idea, but you can also write labels on your containers with masking tape. If you have glass tupperware, you can also writer directly on the glass with a dry-erase marker.
Just make sure to check that the dry erase marker comes off cleanly on a small section before you start labeling everything.
Make sure you include all the key information about the food in each container when you label it. You should include:
- The date you put the food in the refrigerator
- The type of food or leftovers
- Who it belongs to (if you have roommates)
- How many servings are left
Hack #4: Dry Erase on the Fridge Door
Did you know that you can use a dry erase marker to write directly on your refrigerator door?
Anytime you want to use dry erase, test the marker on a small section first to make sure it really does wipe away cleanly, but the vast majority of refrigerators are compatible with dry erase markers.
Instead of playing a guessing game about what you have in your refrigerator you can just write it on the front. Add items any time you go grocery shopping, and erase foods as you eat them.
Having a grocery list on your refrigerator also makes it a ton easier to tell when you need to replace condiments and other long-lasting foods.
You can also include other important information like the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator.
This may be the single most important fridge organization tip on my list.
Food Management Hacks
Knowing how to organize your fridge and knowing how to take care of the food inside are two completely different things. These fridge management tips will help prevent cross contamination and also help your food last longer.
What does that mean for you? It means less dollars spent at the grocery store.
Hack #5: Meat on the Bottom
One of the most important things you can do to help food last longer and to prevent cross contamination is to keep your meat as close to the bottom of the fridge as possible.
I don’t mean that you need to keep it in the crisper drawers at the bottom, but the shelf right above them is a good place.
Why is this so important? Raw meat is especially prone to bacterial problems that cause food poisoning and other health issues. It also has a tendency to drip, and can get juices on everything stored underneath it.
Storing near the bottom protects the rest of your food, and also means less cleanup if you do get some meat juices dripping from their containers.
Hack #6: Salad in Mason Jars
Salads in mason jars are good for more than just attractive pictures on Instagram.
You can prep an entire week of salads in mason jars, with the dressings and liquid ingredients at the bottom, and they’ll last the entire week.
Not only is this a great fridge management tip, you’ll also save time and effort if you use mason jar salads for meal-prep through the week.
Hack #7: Milk Does Not Go in the Fridge Door
A lot of people look for a refrigerator that has door-shelving big enough for a while gallon of milk. Don’t get me wrong, that kind of space in your refrigerator door is fantastic.
It’s just… well, your milk really shouldn’t go there.
Your refrigerator door is one of the most temperature volatile places in your entire refrigerator. Every time you open the door the temperature will fluctuate. It may only be a couple degrees if you’re only opening the door quickly, or it may be a 5-10 degree fluctuation if you have to keep the door open for a few minutes.
All those fluctuations will make your milk spoil faster, especially in the summertime.
Keep your milk and other temperature-sensitive foods in the main part of your refrigerator and save the door for hardier foods that won’t suffer from temperature fluctuation.
Salad dressings and condiments are good examples of those hardier foods.
Hack #8: Not All Fruit and Veg Needs to Be in Your Fridge
Did you know that not all of your produce needs to go in your refrigerator? Some foods can even suffer from refrigeration. Tomatoes are one vegetable that it’s better to keep on the counter.
Refrigerated tomatoes definitely last longer. But if they get even a little too cold they’ll change texture and lose some of their flavor.
Unless you’re struggling to eat your tomatoes before they spoil, keep them on the counter.
You can also leave a lot of root vegetables, like onions and potatoes on your counter. They’ll last almost as long, and won’t have any flavor or texture problems that way.
Hard-shelled fruits and vegetables are also usually safe to leave on the counter until you cut them. Squash and melons are two examples. They need to be refrigerated as soon as you slice them open, but are fairly shelf-stable until then.
Hack #9: Ditch the Plastic, Mesh Produce Bags Work Better
Those little plastic bags you put produce in in the grocery store. Ditch ’em.
Reusable mesh bags are not only more environmentally friendly, they help your fruits and vegetables last longer.
You can use these bags in the grocery store or just in your refrigerator, whichever makes more sense to you.
Hack #10: Herb Bouquets
If you buy fresh herbs at the store you shouldn’t just put them in a crisper drawer next to your vegetables.
Instead, treat fresh herbs like fresh flowers or a cutting from your houseplants.
Trim a little stem off the bottom of the herbs (about an inch will do) and place them in a mason jar or small vase filled with a little water.
These little herb bouquets can stay on your counter or go in the refrigerator. They’ll last longer in the fridge (and can help fight odors, too), so make sure to refrigerate any herbs you aren’t planning to use within 2-3 days.
These wide-mouth mason jars are a good fit for herb bouquets and the mason jar salads I mentioned earlier.
Get Rid of Nasty Odors, Hacks for a Sweeter Smelling Fridge
Now that you’re making the most of your food and keeping your fridge better organized, it’s time to keep your refrigerator cleaner too!
Cleanliness is important for your fridge because there are some harmful bacteria and molds that can live with the cold temperatures inside your refrigerator. These steps are even more important if you’ve noticed that your produce is starting to go bad faster than it used to.
Here are some simple refrigerator hacks that will keep your odor free without a ton of effort.
Hack #11: Fridge Mats and Liners
One of the best products you can buy for your refrigerator are washable fridge mats and liners. These helpful tools contain spills and are easier to remove and wash than the inside of your fridge.
Some are disposable, while others are designed to get thrown in the laundry or washed with your dishes.
If you don’t want to buy specialized fridge liners, there are some alternatives. Cling-wrap and contact paper are common choices for lining your refrigerator shelves. Just make sure you can remove them without damaging the shelving or walls!
Aluminum foil and parchment paper can also be used as temporary liner. You can also place a liner under foods that might leak or drip without truly lining all your refrigerator shelves.
Taking this step makes cleaning a lot easier, helping you cut down on the odors that can build up in your refrigerator.
Hack #12: Activated Carbon
If you have existing odors, or just want to be extra sure you won’t get any, activated carbon can be a great choice. Activated carbon is a natural filter that absorbs the scents from the air around it.
Activated carbon works a lot like baking soda, but it tends to last longer than a baking soda container in your fridge.
That said, baking soda is also a lot cheaper than activated carbon tends to be, so it’s all about where you want to spend your money.
Hack #13: Baking Soda
Baking soda is another cheap option for getting rid of the odors in your refrigerator. You may even already have some in your kitchen, especially if you’re jumping on the Covid-19 bread making bandwagon!
A few tablespoons in an open container is more than enough to start eliminating odors in your refrigerator. You’ll need to replace that about once a month.
Or you can buy a container of baking soda that’s designed to help eliminate refrigerator odors. Those containers usually cost a few dollars and last somewhere between 3-6 months.
**Bonus Hack**: Eat Me First! Stop Odors by Eating Food Before It Goes Bad
Some of these hacks work even better when you put them together. I wanted to include this bonus hack, a combination of three of my other hacks, to help you start thinking of creative ways to come up with your own refrigerator hacks.
This bonus hack goes hand in hand with three of my earlier refrigerator hacks, baskets, labels, and dating your leftovers.
One of the baskets in your refrigerator should say ‘Eat Me First’ that way you can fill it with food as it gets older to help make sure all that food gets eaten before it goes bad.
Not only will this basket help you keep your food from going bad, it’ll also make cleaning out your refrigerator a ton easier.
Cleaning your refrigerator can be a pain without these kitchen hacks, but it’s a breeze when you’ve started using the right refrigerator hacks for your family. Staying organized helps to keep your refrigerator easier to manage, and managing your foods well makes it easier to keep your fridge clean.
Put that all together and each of these hacks will help with the others.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to use all 13 of these refrigerator hacks to get great results. Try to use one or two from each section and see how much of a difference these hacks really make.