Perhaps one of the more frustrating components of apartment living is the organization of the refrigerator. The fridge is seemingly impossible to keep clean and organized for a week, let alone a few days. Inevitably, this ends with you sifting through your fridge looking for something to eat to only come across expired food or empty containers. There’s an easier way.
How Professional Kitchens Organize Their Fridge
When we talk about organizing the refrigerator, professional kitchens are perfect models because they typically approach fridge organization with food safety in mind. Professional kitchens organize their fridge according to the temperature the foods need to be cooked to.
The things that don’t need any cooking to be safe- things like prepared foods or leftovers are placed at the top of the fridge and then everything else is organized down based on the temperature they need to be cooked to in order to be safe. The food that needs to be cooked to the highest temperature should be stored at the bottom.
When you organize your fridge this way, cross-contamination becomes less of a problem because the food that is contaminated has to be cooked to a higher temperature than the food sitting above it.
How to Organize Your Own Fridge
Now that you know how professional kitchens approach their own fridge, how do we incorporate their strategies into apartment living? Here are some easy tips to keep everything neat and tidy, despite it feeling like an impossible task.
Label your doors
This may feel strange, but the doors of your refrigerator are often home to a world of jars and bottles. You may be reaching for the hot sauce, but you grab the coffee creamer instead. By labeling your doors, you fix the problem. One shelf can be dairy, another for staple condiments, and another could be for salsas and hot sauces.
There are baskets, drawers and bins that you can buy and add to your fridge organization. Make it easy to keep like items together by labeling each basket. Find baskets that slide out for convenience.
Stack Your Drinks
Soda cans, beer bottles, and water bottles are an extremely inefficient use of space in your refrigerator. There are a number of drink dispensers and organizers you can buy to save space. Not only does stacking your drinks use space better, but it also gives you easy access to your drinks.
Keep Ready-To-Eat Foods Accessible
Keeping the items you use the most in the front of your fridge on the top shelf makes them accessible. No more standing in front of the fridge, digging through it. If you want to cut down on unhealthy snacking, you can motivate yourself by sticking healthier options like fresh fruit or veggies up front to make it easier.
Upper Shelves: Leftovers, drinks, ready-to-eat foods like yogurt, cheese and deli meat.
Lower Shelves: Raw ingredients for cooked dishes.
Door: The refrigerator door is the warmest part of the fridge, so only condiments belong here. Don’t put eggs or dairy in the door- these should be placed in a part of the fridge that’s colder.
Drawers: These are tricky pieces of real estate inside your fridge. They’re designed to hold produce at a specific humidity, so it makes sense to store fruits and veggies there. But since they’re typically at the bottom of the fridge, they’re at risk for contaminating our fresh vegetables if we store meat on the shelf above.