You have stocked up on fresh produce, meat, eggs and more. Next stop? Your refrigerator. But before you stash your haul just anywhere, consider this: Location matters. From doors to drawers to shelves, there is a simple art to organizing your fridge and there is an optimal spot for everything. Keep reading for my storage secrets, so you can enjoy perfectly crisp salads, creamy cheese, and even last night’s lasagna for days to come.
Why is Organizing Your Fridge Important?
It all comes down to one simple principle: temperature. Inevitably, some parts of your fridge are going to be warmer or cooler than others. Think about it. When you reach in to grab something, the storage space along the doors is the most exposed to outside air. Other spots, like the crisper drawers, are more protected. Being aware of these fluctuations is key to keeping your food fresh. If you do not already, it is a good idea to monitor your refrigerator temperature. For food stored in your refrigerator, the USDA recommends refrigerating food at 40°F or colder. This keeps your food out of the “danger zone” (40 – 140°F), where bacteria are most likely to grow. If your refrigerator does not have a built-in thermometer, consider installing one.
The produce drawers (crisper drawers) in your fridge are ideal for storing fresh fruits and vegetables. The humidity in this space is actually different than the rest of your fridge, and it helps to preserve the flavor and texture of your produce. Think of it as a mini-controlled environment. Here is what to consider storing here:
- Fruit: Berries, grapes, apples, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes)
- Vegetables: Lettuce, bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, fresh herbs
Some produce drawers also allow you to adjust their humidity level. Without getting too scientific, lower humidity is preferable for fruits, while higher humidity is better for vegetables. If your drawer does not have a setting, no problem. Either way, your produce will get the TLC it needs.
While it is recommended keeping your fridge closed as much as possible, the door space tends to be warmer than other parts of your fridge. It is best to keep all your non-perishables or hardier foods with a longer shelf life here:
- Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo)
- Salad dressing
- Juice (except freshly squeezed) and soda
Does your refrigerator have a designated spot on the door for butter and eggs? Think twice about storing these foods there. The USDA actually recommends storing your eggs in their carton on the shelves in the main compartment of your fridge, so if it is perishable, store it elsewhere.
The shelves, located in the main compartment of your refrigerator, are where the temperature is the most stable. For that reason, you will want to store perishables like meat, dairy products, eggs, and leftovers in this space. Here is the other part to consider — most fridges have multiple levels of shelves, so the order of the foods you are storing is also important:
- Raw meat, poultry, and seafood: Store on the lowest shelf. To prevent juices from spilling, wrap meat securely or place on a plate or inside a sealed container.
- Eggs: Store on the lowest shelf. Keep eggs just as they came — in the carton.
- Dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt): Due to space constraints, milk is fine to store on the lowest shelf. But for cheese and yogurt, you will want to store these on the middle or highest shelf to keep them separate from raw meat.
- Leftovers: Store in a sealed container on the middle or highest shelf to keep separate from raw meat.
Organizing your fridge may seem like a chore, but it does not have to be. In fact, it is one of the easiest ways to practice self-care in your home. Knowing that the foods you love are in their rightful places gives you a sense of accomplishment. Plus, you will be reminded of your hard work every time you open the fridge. I hope these refrigerator storage tips have been helpful and until next time, be happy, healthy, and beautiful!