Are you having a barbecue this weekend? Maybe a big group of friends and family are coming over for good times and good food and you’ve put tons of work and preparation into planning for this event. Everything is in order, the house is clean, the backyard looks great, nothing could go wrong…until a few of your guests come over with a dish that needs to be refrigerated and (cue horror music) they witness the overflowing mess that is the inside of your refrigerator!
Don’t be embarrassed. A lot of us struggle to keep this workhorse of the kitchen clean and in order. The doors are constantly opening and closing (they may as well be revolving) as food items are removed, returned, moved, and spilled day in and day out. Our own fridge has had it’s days, let me tell you, where I’d rather close it up and stick caution tape across the front.
How to Keep Your Fridge Clean and Organized
But, not anymore! We don’t have to live that way! There are certain tips and tricks we can utilize that will have our refrigerators clean, organized, and actually stay that way forever! I’ve put this into practice for the last year or so (since we moved into this house) and this view of our fridge is actually the norm! I didn’t do much cleaning to photograph for this post!
So, do you want to learn how to keep your fridge clean and organized (all the time!)? It starts with how you do your shopping. Most people get in the habit of shopping once a week or once a month as a habit without considering whether they really need to yet. I did it all the time and wondered why it was getting so crowded in my fridge. I was filling it faster than emptying it.
Tip #1- Purge before shopping
The most labor intensive part of cleaning out your fridge is in emptying it all out and putting everything back in. Wiping the shelves down can be done in a matter of minutes, so, why do we continually add more items week after week, if the rate we are using them is so slow things get overcrowded? Do some creative meal planning and see what you can come up with using only supplies on hand. Think of it as one of those crazy cooking competition shows. Then, only buy ingredients that you know you will use. Minimalism is key here.
For a little more help getting organized in the kitchen, check out my Meal Planning Printables!
Tip #2- Clean Before Stocking
When you are down to a few jars of pickles and salad dressing, that is when you give your fridge a good cleaning. Take out whatever is left after purging, combine half used containers of like items, throw out expired food, wipe everything down, and return things to their places. This usually takes me under ten minutes and my fridge is spotless; a process that used to be a whole afternoon ordeal.
Tip #3- Arrange food properly
Did you know there are optimal places for different types of food based on temperature around different shelves? Below is a graphic of where food is most safely stored that should help in your organization.
Tip #4- Keep Organized With Baskets
This is my secret weapon for keeping our fridge clean. Are you ready for it? Baskets! This is a game changer. It all started when the drawer in the middle of our fridge broke and I needed a place to put our lunch meat and cheese and such. I stuck a long basket in there and it has been wonderful!
I hate to have small things just floating around in drawers or shelves, especially not in the refrigerator. Putting baskets inside the fridge lets me put small things like yogurt, fruit cups, string cheese, and lunch meat in an easy to reach place that won’t allow them to scatter. It’s also nice for hamburger condiments during the summer so you can just pull the whole thing out at once.
Another great tool is this shelf organizer from Target. It really optimizes on space.
Of course I have one in the freezer too.
Tip #5- Invest in a second Fridge
It doesn’t have to be a brand new, stainless steel fridge, but having an extra allows us to stock up without getting overcrowded. I know not everyone has the space or money for this, but if you do, do it! You won’t regret having all that space.
Cleaning out the refrigerator is often the most overlooked and dreaded chore in the house, and it’s never fun to be embarrassed when guests come over and happen to get a peek at it’s disorderly state. I used to really struggle with this, but now my fridge is one of the cleanest places in our home on a regular basis. That is because I cook creatively to use almost everything before shopping again, then I clean it well before filling it. I keep organized using my secret weapon: baskets, and we enjoy the extra space of a bonus fridge in our basement. It’s so nice to have one less thing to stress out about while managing our home.