There is nothing worse than opening up your refrigerator to find that the bottle of ketchup you went to pick up is sticking to the glass shelf. Or when you go to grab that salad dressing all the way in the back of the shelf, you knock over everything in front of it along the way. There are so many ways to organize the refrigerator to make your life just a little bit easier. Here are a few things that you will need to do before organizing everything. You will definitely need to disinfect the entire interior of the refrigerator including the shelves, inside the doors where the food holders are, as well as insides of the drawers. Not only should you do this for aesthetic benefits, but also to help prevent foodborne illnesses and contamination. It's very easy to disinfect your refrigerator by following my tips....
1. Empty the entire refrigerator :
Take everything out so that you can easily wipe away all of the hardened spills.
2. Wipe down all surfaces :
Take disinfecting wipes or paper towels and spray bleach to sanitize all surfaces inside the fridge including the shelves and the compartments on the doors. Take the drawers out and let them soak in hot soapy water before wiping them down and putting them back.
3. Add a deodorizer :
Putting a deodorizer in the fridge will help to prevent unwanted smells from lingering inside. Baking soda serves as a great deodorizer. You can purchase fridge baking soda packs that stick to the walls of the fridge, or you can just place an open container of baking soda towards the back of one of the shelves.
Now you are ready to organize your refrigerator !
What works for me is to mentally separate the fridge into sections determining which food categories I want to place where. Different kinds of foods should be stored in the upper shelves, lower shelves, doors and drawers.
Upper Shelf Tips:
Since your upper shelves are the highest point of the fridge, you should think about storing things like leftovers, drinks and ready-to-eat foods such as yogurt, cheese and deli meats. These foods usually have a shorter shelf life than condiments or oils and butter so it's easier to see them and dispose of them at the time of expiration. I know this may sound silly but I also label certain foods by either sticking a note on them or putting them in a plastic bin saying "Must Eat First"; this reminds me which foods are expiring first. I also like to label my leftovers with the date. You can use this chart as a reference from Foodsafety.gov to see how long your leftovers will last.
Inside Refrigerator Doors :
If your refrigerator doors have compartments marked for eggs or dairy, I would suggest that you ignore them. The temperature near the door fluctuates when the fridge door is opened and closed, so most shelves are not a great place for milk , eggs and other highly perishable foods. I use the door for sauces, dressings, jams, jarred peppers, wine and beer and other less perishable foods.
Lower Shelf Tips :
It's much easier to clean up a mess on one shelf than a mess that has seeped from the top to the bottom of your refrigerator. I would recommend that you put the potential messes on the bottom shelf, such as your meats and fish. The bottom shelf tends to stay the coldest as well so this will help to prevent from spoilage.
Baskets & Bins :
I also like to use small baskets and bins in my refrigerator. How many times do you have tons of small condiment packets such as mustard, ketchup, mayo ad duck sauce from the take out , not to mention the little coffee creamer cups ? I store all of these in a bin on one of my shelves so that they are not flying all over the fridge. You can also us a ziplock baggie and put into one of the drawers.
Use a Lazy Susan :
Digging through the back of your fridge to find small items is not fun. Using a Lazy Susan on one of the shelves is a great trick to get to those items that you use all the time that are usually stuck all the way in the back, especially if you are in the middle of cooking with both hands full; it is so easy to just spin your ingredients around to find just what you need. Traditionally, Lazy Susans are used in spice cabinets but they can be just as useful in the fridge. I like to keep my opened jars such as preserves or tomato sauce, and condiments like mustard and mayo on it.
*All of these tips can be used for the freezer as well.
* For more information on safe food storage containers .... 10 BPA-Free Food Storage Containers