Feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of too much stuff in your refrigerator? If it feels like a jumbled mess, you’re not alone. Since me and my family members all have different food preferences, my fridge gets a bit messy at times.
To top it off, maximizing storage space while keeping items organized in a small fridge is an even bigger challenge. Because storage space is even more limited in a tiny fridge.
But don’t sweat. I have been living in a small home with a small kitchen and thus, a small fridge, for my entire life. And I’ve learned a few lessons. There are plenty of creative ways to efficiently use any sized fridge. From using bins for fruit and stackable containers to having designated spots for each item, you can make it work with some organization effort.
Today, I’ll give you a quick overview of small fridge organization hacks that will help keep everything in its place and make grocery sorting easier. So read on, and let me help you keep your fridge tidy.
1. Start With Sorting And Cleaning
An organized fridge is never overstuffed. That’s probably a no-brainer, but even I sometimes tend to overstuff my fridge. So what do you do first? Take everything out from your refrigerator shelves.
Then, sort all items into piles. As you sort, check the expiration dates on each item and throw away anything past its prime. Have you found items that are still good but unopened? Perhaps your local Food Bank will accept them.
If you’ve been neglecting your fridge for some time, this can be a daunting task. But know that uncluttering your items will make the rest of the process much easier.
As part of this step, give the inside of your fridge a thorough cleaning. Wipe down all surfaces with an antibacterial cleaner or a mixture of water and vinegar. If you have fridge liners, remove them and use a wet wipe to clean both your shelves and the liners while your fridge inventory sits out.
2. Make Food Categories – Meat, Fresh Fruits And Fresh Produce
Now that you’ve sorted out any expired items and given your refrigerator a good scrubbing, it’s time to start creating food categories within your fridge.
Start by grouping similar items together —meat products in one section, fresh fruits and fresh produce in another, et cetera. You can use clear baskets or other containers with labels to keep each category separate from the others if desired. This will help you quickly find what you need without rifling through every item in your fridge.
It can also be helpful to designate certain shelves for certain types of food. Use one shelf for beverages only, like bottles, bottle storage, water bottles, beer bottles, bulky bottles, and condiment bottles. At the same time, use another shelf for leftovers or prepared foods like refrigerated snacks and cheeses.
Choosing the best shelf inside your fridge is also important. For example, don’t use your door storage for fresh products such as milk, yogurt, or meat. Door storage space experiences the most changes in temperatures. Store those easily spoiling items on the bottom shelf.
Doing this will help keep things neat while also making it easier to spot what needs to be eaten first. For example, it’s better to store all leftovers together on the top shelf since they need to be eaten the soonest.
Related article: How To Organize A Deep Freezer In 6 Simple Steps
3. Get Fridge Organization Bins
A counter-depth fridge cannot hold all edibles because, from larger meat to deli meats and fruits, everything needs space in there. That’s why getting storage bins or baskets is smart.
These bins come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that fits perfectly into your fridge. You can also label these containers for entire meals, raw meats, lunch meats, cheese slices, et cetera. This will streamline your meal prepping when you’re short on time.
The best thing about using bins is that they are stackable. This means you can easily store different items on top of each other without worrying about them rolling around or being scattered everywhere.
Consider storage bins with handles to make it even easier to reach items stored at the back or bottom of your fridge without moving everything else out of the way.
4. Include Extendable Food Storage Containers
Optimal fridge organization is only possible when you have space for all categories. And extendable refrigerator shelves can do just that. You can put these shelves in your fridge and create separate zones for different food items. For example a vegetable section, sections for boxed foods, and space for healthy snacks.
Related article: The Smartest Snack Storage Ideas To Keep Your Munchies
Unlike traditional storage containers, these extendable shelves are designed with hinges on either side to expand when needed and contract when not in use. This saves you a lot of space. They’re also perfect for storing prepared foods, roasted vegetables, poultry packages, and all types of greens —pop open the shelf when needed and collapse it when not in use for maximum efficiency.
5. Use Drawer Dividers To Separate Small Items
Pantry fridge shelf dividers are an effective way to separate items and maintain an organizational system. When items are separated into different compartments, they are easier to find, reducing the time you spend searching for something specific.
And since drawer dividers help save space, they can fit in tight spaces within the drawers or shelves of your fridge. For example, fruits and vegetables may be stored in one compartment, while condiments can go in another.
6. Don’t Overstuff the Shelves – Be Smart About Grocery Shopping
If you’re like me, you don’t want to waste food items. But, once in a while, I tend to overstuff my fridge. When in fact it’s better not to overstuff. This way, it’s easier to spot items that need consumption in the near future.
So when trying to maximize efficiency with a small refrigerator, it is important to keep your shelves manageable. Overstuffing leads to inefficient use of space and makes it difficult to keep track of all your food and beverages.
To avoid overstuffing, be smart about grocery shopping by only buying what you need that week and avoiding excess packaging whenever possible. Also, try using stackable airtight containers so they can fit easily within your fridge without taking up too much room.
Lastly, consider reorganizing every once in a while by disposing of expired foods and throwing out any product that has gone bad to prevent food from contamination.
When it comes to keeping your small refrigerator organized and efficient, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every fridge space is different, as are your food preferences. However, adopting the best methods will help maximize your storage space and the practicality of your fridge.
Here are a few more tips to help you:
- Make sure all items are stored in containers or sealed if possible.
- Know the different temperatures of each shelf and door compartment.
- Place items that will expire soon at the front of your shelves.
- Use labels for special items or colored containers.
- Declutter and clean your fridge periodically.
What can I put on top of a small fridge?
The top of a small refrigerator is best used for lightweight items such as condiments, bottles, and jars that don’t need to be refrigerated. It’s also a great spot for snacks and other non-perishable items.
What can I do with the cabinet above my fridge?
You can utilize this cabinet as an extra storage option for any kitchen items you may not often use. For example, specialty tools, bulk dry goods like pasta or flour, items that go in holiday meals, and spices or herbs. You could even store cookbooks in the cabinet.
Should you cover everything in the fridge?
It sounds fair to keep food stored properly to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage. However, covering every item isn’t necessary. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be stored loose without covers or bags so air can circulate freely. Only when you have prepared, cooked, or baked vegetables, or peeled fruit, covering them up is wise.
How can I organize my refrigerator without containers?
Consider utilizing smaller shelves and stackable bins to make the most of your space. You can also reorganize items based on how often you use them, ensuring the more frequently used items are within easy reach.
Another way to optimize your storage space without containers is to use hanging bag organizers such as this Ziploc bag storage rail.
Related article: Organize Ziploc Bags: 6 Impressive Ziploc Organizing Ideas
Where do you put milk in the fridge?
You should typically store milk at the back of the bottom shelf due to this area being colder than other parts of the fridge. This helps keep it fresh and extend its shelf life.
Where do eggs go in the fridge?
Eggs should be placed in their carton on one of the shelves towards the middle or bottom, as this area is usually moist enough to help keep them safe and fresh for longer.
Should you keep bread in the fridge?
This is a personal choice. But bread should generally not be kept in a refrigerator as it encourages moisture, making it go stale quicker than normal. Instead, store it in a cool, dry spot such as a cupboard or pantry shelf where it will last longer.
Don’t want to defrost your frozen bread in the microwave? Place it in your refrigerator the night before you plan to use it, and let it thaw slowly.
MORE ABOUT KITCHEN ORGANIZING
- The Smartest Snack Storage Ideas To Keep Your Munchies
- How To Organize A Deep Freezer In 6 Simple Steps
- Organize Ziploc Bags: 6 Impressive Ziploc Organizing Ideas
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