If you keep your kitchen – fridge, freezer, pantry, cabinets – organized, you’ll avoid buying food twice, and you’ll actually be able to use up what you have without wasting food! I’ll write more about the freezer and pantry later on, but here’s some good info for the fridge!
Keeping your kitchen clean and organized isn’t hard, but it needs to be done often. When you get into the groove of it, if will become a habit, and you won’t even notice you’re doing it.
So, here are my favorite tips for keeping your kitchen clean and organized.
How to Organize Your Fridge & Kitchen
1. What to Clean & How Often to Clean It
Once a season
Spring cleaning doesn’t just relate to the spring season! Do some good cleaning at the beginning of each season.
Wipe down your shelves and drawers with some slightly damp paper towels. Take off everything from them, clean them, and then put stuff back.
Once a month
This can absolutely be done more frequently, but at least once a month check through everything in your fridge and in the door of the fridge – dressings, sauces, veggies, meats, etc. – and throw out what’s expired. Checking expiration dates is very important – you don’t want stuff to get molded in your fridge!
Once a week
Check foods that expire quickly & throw out anything that’s expired or is looking or smelling expired (as mentioned above):
Sauces, e.g. tomato sauce
Raw meats & fish
Wipe up spills ASAP before they have a chance to harden – those hardened spills are a PAIN to wipe up later on.
Plus, it’s so much easier to do it immediately, and not wait for stuff to pile up – when you see a dirty kitchen with tons of stuff that needs to be done, you will probably be overwhelmed.
2. Extend the Life of Your Food
Keep leftovers in AIRTIGHT containers
I prefer glass containers because there’s no risk of BPA or other plastic contaminants. Lock lid containers work well such as these ones, but honestly, these are my favorite glass food storage containers because they’re so nice and BIG! 🙂
If you’re not going to eat something right away, FREEZE it
You can freeze SO MUCH food – so if you can’t eat all you have or you’re going out of town, put these items in your freezer to have for later (or even do meal prep intentionally and freeze it for later), especially is expiration dates are not too long without freezing:
Fruit – bananas, berries, grapes. Add to smoothies, add to yogurt, or use in baking. Typically better to eat frozen rather than thawing first. Wash & cut your fruit before you freeze it.
Veggies – veggies that freeze best are leafy greens, corn, winter squash (e.g. acorn), carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets. Wash & cut your veg before you freeze it.
Dessert – this is a fantastic trick to help eat less dessert if you tend to eat large quantities 🙂 “out of sight out of mind” right? You can put cookies, chocolate, etc. in a plastic freezer bag or a glass container.
Meats – remove the meat from the store packaging and place it in a freezer bag. Thawing meats in your fridge is best because if you don’t use it, you can refreeze it again (if you thaw using other methods, you MUST cook the meat before refreezing).
Bread, bagels, etc. can all be stored in the freezer! Pre-slice before freezing
Get rid of PLASTIC in your fridge
Plastic pulls in and traps humidity – and causes organisms and bacteria to grow on fruits and veggies, leading to rotting and mold! Yuck!
Keep your produce in the produce drawers in your fridge without the plastic bags.
3. Organization Tricks for the Fridge
If you want your fridge organized, here are some of my favorite tips, food storage solutions, and tricks!
Group “Like with Like”
On each shelf – group similar items with similar items. Here are some examples – but you do what works for you!
All dairy products
Put produce in the produce drawer
Have 1 shelf for prepped ingredients (e.g. cut up fruit) that you’ll use for the week
Meat drawer or shelf (keep defrosting meats in their own sub-containers to prevent contamination)
Use Clear, Stackable Containers
I’m fairly obsessed with these 🙂
USE LAZY SUSANS
Lazy Susans are great for kitchen organization and food storage solutions, especially for bottles (hot sauce, soy sauce, mayo, ketchup, burger sauce, etc.)! They make everything easy to reach.
Upper vs. Lower Shelves of the Fridge
Berries (surprisingly!) will last longer at the top shelf since produce bottom drawers are too moist (crisp drawer is fine)
Dairy – including eggs, milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, and sour cream
Keep Certain Items in the Door of the Fridge
These items should be stored specifically in the refrigerator door:
Ketchup, mustard, relish
Bottled water, soda, juice
Nuts should be stored in the fridge rather than in the pantry if you have room. When nuts are exposed to too much heat (as they can be if they’re by your stove) they can go rancid.
Bananas should be separated and stored individually. When bananas stay in a bunch, ethylene gas is emitted – making them ripen faster.
Tomatoes should not be stored in the fridge! It changes their taste and texture.
Avocados should be stored at room temperature until they’re fully ripe. Then store fully ripe avocados in the refrigerator. If you’ve got fully ripe avocados that you want to last, place them in the fridge in a plastic bag – they’ll typically last another 3-5 days.