For the longest time, I tried to organize my fridge and keep it cleaned, but it seemed like things were always getting shoved to the back and would end up rotten by the time I found them.
I finally had one of those “duh” moments when I realized that organizing my fridge and minimizing food waste didn’t have to be difficult at all.
All it took was a few labels.
Sure, I could have just designated certain shelves for certain foods, but whenever I tried that, I would always forget (or my family didn’t know what went where) and things would end up in disarray again.
In less than 15 minutes time, I came up with the world’s easiest system for organizing my fridge. Yours will probably end up looking different than mine due to the different setup of different refrigerators, but you’ll get the idea of how you can create an easy-to-use system for keeping your refrigerator organized.
First, I took everything out and washed the shelves thoroughly. I also threw away anything that had gone bad or that I knew I wasn’t going to use.
Then I set it up like this:
Beverages. That’s it. Since I often buy 8 gallons of raw milk at one time, I need that shelf completely dedicated to beverages.
Cheese and lunch meat. (Side note: lunch meat is not something I recommend consuming regularly. We have it when we’re really feeling the need for something quick and easy, but we make sure to buy a kind that is nitrate/nitrite free.)
On the left side I put ingredients such as cooked meat, broth, chopped onions, or anything else that is pre-prepared that will be a component of a meal. I labeled that side simply “Ingredients”. The right side is labeled “Leftovers”, so I’m sure you can figure out what goes there. I try to make sure to put the most recent leftovers in the back and move the older ones to the front. It’s a lot easier to make sure we eat the older stuff before it goes bad when it’s looking me right in the face when I open the fridge.
The left side is labeled “Snacks” and holds things like granola bars, applesauce, and anything else that is meant to be grab-n-go. Since snacks are such a frequented category of food in our household, having them all in one designated spot keeps people from digging through the fridge in search of something to eat, and eliminates the disorganization that follows.
Since there will inevitably be something that doesn’t fall into any category, the bottom right shelf is labeled “Miscellaneous”. That way I have a place to put everything even if I’m not sure where it should go.
I have labeled the produce drawers with “Week 1″ and “Week 2″. If not everything gets used up on the first week, it gets moved over to the “Week 2″ drawer before I bring put any new groceries away. When I’m deciding what vegetables to have with dinner, I always check the “Week 2″ drawer and use up whatever’s in there first.
In the door I keep condiments, supplements that require refrigeration, butter, and anything else small. I try to group like items together and eliminate as many unnecessary items as possible. For example, instead of having 10 different kinds of salad dressing in there cluttering things up, I make our salad dressing from scratch. I usually only make enough for one meal so that I can make whichever kind we prefer and not end up with a bunch of things in there that end up going bad.
I’ve never considered myself an organized person, but ever since I labeled the shelves and started putting things in specific places, our food waste has been drastically reduced. It’s also easier to decide what to have for dinner because I can easily see what needs to be cooked up first.
And the best part is that it only took a few minutes to organize, and it has stayed that way for a long time!
I hope my system will give you an idea of how to organize your own fridge and reduce food waste!