If your fridge is disorganized, it can be hard to find specific ingredients and even harder to keep up with expiration dates. Plus, discovering a month-old, smelly leaf of lettuce in the back corner is never fun. Make the most of your space by giving each type of food a specific place. You’ll prolong your food’s freshness and make it easier to find things.
Note: If your fridge contains an overwhelming amount of food, give it a good clean before you begin organizing your food items.
If you do nothing else, do this. If you’re not interested in a full-fridge reorganization, then just pay attention to your doors. The refrigerator door is by far the warmest area of the fridge, so only keep store-bought condiments, butter and cheese in the door. These items don’t have to be really cold to stay fresh.
Milk, cream and half & half. These dairy products spoil quickly, so they should be kept in the coldest shelf in the fridge: the bottom shelf in the back corner. Tip: If you use these items frequently, try to leave a clear “avenue” to the back so they’re easy to grab.
Butter and cheese. Butter and most types of cheese don’t have to be really cold to stay fresh, so they can live in the shelf on the door. This is the warmest part of the fridge, so try to use your butter and cheese in a timely manner – it shouldn’t be stored there for longer than three months if it’s salted or three weeks if it’s unsalted. Tip: To maintain the flavor of soft cheeses like brie and goat cheese, store them in an air-tight container.
Eggs. Your eggs are kind of like Goldie Locks: they don’t want a temperature that is too hot or cold – they want it just right. To keep things consistent, store them in the middle of the fridge, and in their original containers (even if your refrigerator has built-in spots)! This will appease those Goldie Locks preferences.
Red meat and poultry. Refrigerators typically have two drawers: one for meat and one for veggies (they should be labeled). These drawers create different environments, so don’t use them interchangeably! The meat drawer is the coldest place in the refrigerator, which prevents spoiling. It’s also positioned at the bottom so meat drippings won’t contaminate any other food. Always keep your meat in this drawer and in its original package until you cook it. If that isn’t possible, at least make sure it’s fully sealed in a plastic bag.
Raw vegetables. Veggies love humidity, and that’s just what the vegetable or “crisper” drawer provides. Keeping them in this humid environment will help delay drooping and wilting. Note: Some drawers will have a humidity control that can be adjusted.
Fruits. Unlike vegetables, most fruits are best kept in low-humidity to prevent mold. That means that, in general, you shouldn’t keep fruits and vegetables together. If you have two adjustable “crisper” drawers, you can split them up and adjust the humidity accordingly. If not, keep your vegetables in the crisper, and place your fruit in a cool area that won’t get dripped on by other foods (read: away from the door). Note: Some produce doesn't need to go in the fridge at all!
Packaged foods. Packaged foods like yogurt are okay on the top shelf of your refrigerator, which is the warmest shelf option. Be sure to pay attention to expiration dates on the top shelf and toss items once they’re past their prime.
Condiments. Store-bought condiments typically have a lot of salt, which preserves them. Because of this, they’re a-okay hanging out in your refrigerator door for long periods of time. However, homemade condiments should be kept on the top shelf with packaged goods.