HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

How do you organize your refrigerator?

Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 07:15 AM

Other than the "crisper" where I diligently keep my fruits and vegetable and "dairy" where I keep butter and cheeses how else do you organize your refrigerator? From bottom shelf to top to the door how?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. JonParker RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 07:39 AM

    By where things will fit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JonParker
      mucho gordo RE: JonParker Sep 24, 2012 11:56 AM

      Yeah; usually it's LIFO, which means everything in current use gets buried, never again to be found in an edible condition.

      1. re: JonParker
        tzurriz RE: JonParker Sep 24, 2012 07:19 PM

        ditto this.

      2. r
        rasputina RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 07:44 AM

        I don't, because I live with other people that think that any open spot is free game.

        1. h
          Harters RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 08:00 AM

          The concept of having an organised fridge is alien to me.

          1. l
            lcool RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 08:28 AM

            If I didn't have more than one,I think I would be lost.At least for a short while.No,mine aren't full.I can pretty much see everything.

            1. meatn3 RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 09:45 AM

              Where things fit has a certain amount to do with it. I have a lot of condiments. When it is feasible I group like with like in plastic bins so I can just pull out the whole assortment easily.

              Seldom used (bacon grease, schmaltz, certain miso's) go to the back. Tubs of dairy (yoghurt, sour cream) are together.

              I try to have ready to eat items in the same area. Less chance of not noticing the last bit of meatloaf until it 's too late!

              1. g
                GH1618 RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 10:25 AM

                Very poorly. I'm shopping for a new refrigerator now, and have decided on one which is taller than usual and less deep, with the freezer on the bottom. My thinking is that this configuration will make it easier to see what is in the refrigerator so that leftovers will get used before they become unrecognizable.

                1. bagelman01 RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 10:49 AM

                  Which one?

                  The main food fridge in the kitchen:

                  Two bottom drawers (left/right) Bottles of soda lying flat)

                  Two upper drawers:Left fruit, Right vegetables

                  Bottom Shelf: Tall bottles and cartons: Milk, Juice, Soda that is opened.

                  Next shelf up: Jars such as Mayo

                  Then two deli drawers: Left cheese, right meat

                  Shelf above deli drawers: Cooked food in Plastic tubs or bags

                  Topmost shelf: Eggs, Yogurt, Cream Cheese

                  Door: Top level butter keepers: Left Butter, Center individial packets, asst, Right Margaine

                  4 door shelves: Salad Dressings, marinades, jams, jellies, whipped cream

                  Wine Fridge:

                  White still on bottom, Vodka in middle and sparkling wines on the upper shelves

                  Beverage Fridge in pantry:

                  Cans on the lower levels, bottles on the upper levels.

                  1. l
                    latindancer RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 02:02 PM

                    Very very organized and clean.

                    I have glass doors.

                    1. sunshine842 RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 02:22 PM

                      wow. I didn't even think you could put "organize" and "refrigerator" in the same sentence without the time-space continuum overheating.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842
                        jujuthomas RE: sunshine842 Sep 25, 2012 06:17 AM


                        1. re: sunshine842
                          shallots RE: sunshine842 Sep 25, 2012 09:24 AM


                          1. re: sunshine842
                            jeanmarieok RE: sunshine842 Oct 9, 2012 06:46 AM


                          2. Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Sep 23, 2012 08:32 PM

                            By the size of the container, and the spacing of the shelves.


                            1. b
                              beevod RE: Chinon00 Sep 24, 2012 07:05 AM

                              Ketchup on top, mustard to the left of it.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: beevod
                                sunshine842 RE: beevod Sep 24, 2012 09:12 AM

                                Is that anything like "clowns to the left of me, jokers to my right"?

                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  alkapal RE: sunshine842 Sep 29, 2012 04:57 AM

                                  sunshine, that literally made me laugh out loud!

                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    sandylc RE: sunshine842 Oct 1, 2012 04:21 PM

                                    Great video.

                                2. tracylee RE: Chinon00 Sep 24, 2012 09:50 AM

                                  I have a pretty small fridge where I'm renting now, so I try to keep things pulled forward on the shelves so I don't lose them until it's too late. It also enables me to quickly identify stuff I'm not going to use before it goes bad.

                                  Door: Butter, condiments on first shelf. 2nd door shelf, Almond milk and snack puddings, bottom shelf, salad dressings, mustards.

                                  Left crisper: tortillas, breads, the occasional vegetable.
                                  Right crisper: cheese
                                  Bottom shelf above crisper: various breads/treats that either don't fit in the crisper, or have a far shorter shelf life.
                                  Second shelf from bottom: Pitcher of water, juice, ricotta, tofu, fruit, leftovers
                                  Top shelf: Eggs, protein drink and a can each of sodas, cream cheese, leftover miso soup, charcuterie.

                                  Clearly, things change from week to week, but as long as I can see things, I can fit them into my rotation or toss them.

                                  1. Sooeygun RE: Chinon00 Sep 24, 2012 01:31 PM

                                    It's only organized before we shop, when it's relatively empty (it's astonishing the # of condiments in there), when we have organized to check what we have/need. After shopping, things are wherever they fit.

                                    We try to have the veggies in the drawers, but usually there are too many to fit. Tall stuff and beverages on the top shelf. The rest is a free for all. Surprisingly, very little gets wasted or forgotten. Probably because of the pre-shop organize and menu creation.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sooeygun
                                      kubasd RE: Sooeygun Oct 1, 2012 04:35 PM

                                      This is funny, because the only time my fridge is organized is AFTER I shop. That is when I get to put things where they belong, afterwards my housemates just shove stuff wherever....

                                    2. k
                                      kcshigekawa RE: Chinon00 Sep 24, 2012 04:06 PM

                                      what is this "organize" of which you speak?


                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: kcshigekawa
                                        sedimental RE: kcshigekawa Sep 24, 2012 07:06 PM

                                        I think it means "finding a place to shove the odd sized container, without it spilling"....doesn't it?

                                        1. re: sedimental
                                          sunshine842 RE: sedimental Sep 24, 2012 11:29 PM

                                          and "trying to figure out how you even managed to acquire four jars of mustard and three bottles of ketchup...and what you're going to do with them"

                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                            kcshigekawa RE: sunshine842 Sep 26, 2012 11:46 AM


                                            My problem is pickles...they've been breeding in the back of the middle shelf...

                                      2. TeRReT RE: Chinon00 Sep 25, 2012 01:50 AM

                                        The new fridge I have makes it very easy to keep organized. It is a Japanese fridge so slightly different style then Western fridges. It has the main door on the top, with a ridiculous amount of storage on the side. I can fit all of my jars and bottles in the door, and I have a ridiculous amount of jars and bottles. It has a place for eggs and everything as well. Inside the top compartment there is also the dairy\meat area which is where I keep butter, cheeses and bacon or sausages or whatever. The shelves in the top are all very adjustable, from the height to being able to collapse up completely, or just slide halfway back if I want to put something that is higher then a shelf but don't want to remove the shelf entirely. Things like tofu and various nabe items as well as yogurt and such belong on these shelves.

                                        Below the main door is a vegetable drawer, much larger then a crisper or two, and it has a drawer on the top which is where I keep garlic, ginger, or anything small that I don't want damaged. Below is is where the onions, carrots, eggplant, lettuces, etc can be easily organized. At the very front of this drawer is a place to put bottles of water or juice, it fits 2L bottles exactly so and the bottles can't move around or fall but don't weight the door down or anything.

                                        The bottom drawer is the freezer with ice maker and a drawer on the top where I keep individual portions of rice, underneath is where I keep all the meats and the various bento concoctions and such.

                                        I am not a big organizer of my home fridge as I have to keep fridges at work organized, but this fridge is really really really easy to keep organized.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TeRReT
                                          sunshine842 RE: TeRReT Sep 25, 2012 01:57 AM

                                          "or just slide halfway back if I want to put something that is higher then a shelf but don't want to remove the shelf entirely. "

                                          Oh, want want want.

                                        2. n
                                          NE_Elaine RE: Chinon00 Sep 25, 2012 04:45 AM

                                          "Organize my refrigerator" - hmmmmm - what a concept?

                                          I do put the appropriate items in the little drawers, for the most part, but I do have to say that I usually stick my ginger and yeast in the butter drawer to keep them in view or they disappear until cleaning day. As for everything else, it goes where it fits.

                                          Next you will be asking about organizing the spice cabinet!

                                          1. Chinon00 RE: Chinon00 Sep 25, 2012 07:52 AM

                                            Sorry if my post seems unreasonable. But I'm an engineer;]

                                            1. c
                                              cleobeach RE: Chinon00 Sep 25, 2012 08:47 AM

                                              Timely topic, I had a bit of a refridgerator meltdown last night and my poor, suffering husband couldn't understand why I banished three small bottles of tonic to the liquor cabinet......

                                              We bought one of those fridge on top, freezer on the bottom models a year ago. In general, drinks go on the top shelf and all other areas are a freaking free for all. Don't even get me started on the door "pockets" which have become a graveyard for hot sauces and jellies.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: cleobeach
                                                sunshine842 RE: cleobeach Sep 25, 2012 08:52 AM

                                                yes. Where in the world do all the condiments come from? I swear they breed in there -- or the lost socks from the laundry re-materialize as half-empty condiment jars.

                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                  cleobeach RE: sunshine842 Sep 25, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                  We don't even use that many condiments aside from mayo and ketchup on burger nights yet there they are!

                                                  Our two condiment danger windows are Christmas and vacation. At Christmas, the gift baskets from customers start rolling in and if I don't intercept them, Mr. CB will put every jar of jelly, flavored mustard, etc. in the fridge. Vacation is when Mr. CB goes nuts buying hot sauce. One year he shipped a huge box home, it contained at least 50 bottles.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    tzurriz RE: sunshine842 Sep 25, 2012 01:48 PM

                                                    Seriously! Six jars of mustard, two of which are identical! It is crazy!

                                                    1. re: tzurriz
                                                      cleobeach RE: tzurriz Sep 25, 2012 05:58 PM

                                                      I know! And both of them are openned with just one smear taken out.

                                                      Recently I was horrified to find a jar of jam from a local factory that used to do speciality runs.....it closed 4 years ago.

                                                2. m
                                                  mojoeater RE: Chinon00 Sep 25, 2012 06:12 PM

                                                  Ours isn't very organized, but the extra large Britta goes in the top shelf so we don't have to bend to use the spout. And I try to put milk and yogurt near the bottom where it's colder. Cheeses in the little drawer. Veggies in the bigger bottom drawers.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: mojoeater
                                                    GraydonCarter RE: mojoeater Oct 1, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                    > near the bottom where it's colder

                                                    I just heard this on Chew the other day... the bottom shelves are colder? I guess because hot air rises. I wonder how much colder?

                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter
                                                      mojoeater RE: GraydonCarter Oct 11, 2012 08:03 PM

                                                      We've moved the thermometer around and it is a couple degrees colder, especially at the back of the lower shelves.

                                                  2. b
                                                    Bkeats RE: Chinon00 Sep 26, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                    Organize? Refrigerator? Those words don't go together.

                                                    1. Motosport RE: Chinon00 Sep 26, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                      I also put things where they will fit. On the other hand my lovely partner in life always seems to put short items on the shelf where tall items will fit leaving no room for large bottles and jars. I just don't get the logic. Go figure?
                                                      I am a wise man. I pick my battles carefully. I still lose but we battle less.

                                                      1. j
                                                        jamieeats RE: Chinon00 Sep 27, 2012 09:09 AM

                                                        very organized, and i will take the time to properly organize after our weekly shopping trip.

                                                        we have a strict FIFO rule, and all fruits, vegetables, or deli meats/cheeses are kept in the proper crispers or drawers. the most frequently used products go in the front or on the door for easy access, and if it is unopened and does not need to be refrigerated it gets stored in the pantry.

                                                        we are also very strict about only buying what we need for the week for perishables, and if anything is on sale it is prepared and marinated for the freezer or cooked into meals and put into tupperware for the week.

                                                        1. jmcarthur8 RE: Chinon00 Sep 30, 2012 03:00 PM

                                                          The top shelves, left and right, are a jumble of mustards, pickled things, several kinds of homemade jams, and olives. Lots and lots of jars. The mustards are all contained in a little wooden crate at the back.
                                                          Crispers have fruits and veggies, deli drawer has cheese and eggs and nuts, and the rest of the shelves are packed cheek by jowl with plastic containers of various leftovers for this week's lunches.
                                                          There is never one inch of breathing space in my fridge.

                                                          1. Sandwich_Sister RE: Chinon00 Oct 1, 2012 08:59 AM

                                                            Top Shelf - I'm short so everything up there are things I don't use often but have a long shelf life. Some of my husbands beer making stuff is up there as well.

                                                            Next shelf - Eggs, yogurt, prepped food items, prepared sauces. We make a lot of things from scratch. Pickled items in jars.

                                                            Bottom Shelf - for heavy items, leftovers, pots of stew, soup, larger bottles of juice.

                                                            Veggie crispers - Fruits, veggies usually in one drawer, and leafy greens and herbs in the other. I have a Tortoise so I need to have good quality lettuce on hand.

                                                            I have another draw under that, its spans across the whole bottom. This is where cheese, cured meats go. If entertaining I can refrigerate a whole platter down there.

                                                            Left side door - Top -Milk, my husbands morning swap juice (green fruit smoothy type drink), Orange Juice. Middle - Miscellaneous - usually used for a 6 pack of beer, any over flow of other drinks, Soda if we have it, etc. Bottom - Soy sauce, Oyster Sauce, Fish Sauce, cocktail chili sauce, hot sauce.

                                                            Right side door - Top Butters both salted and unsalted, vegan and olive oil butters.

                                                            Middle - Ketchup, Mustard (2 kinds), Mayo, Sandwich pickles, Relish, jarred olives

                                                            Bottom - Salad dressings marinades and jams

                                                            1. KaimukiMan RE: Chinon00 Oct 9, 2012 06:33 AM

                                                              I am absolutely stunned that I am in the majority here. I found the title fascinating as I never even considered 'organizing' my refrigerator. I just keep cramming things in until something in the back starts leaking, then clean out the fridge and start over again. Anything unrecognizable, overly squishy, or with a label that can no longer be read gets dumped. The rest gets thrown back in where ever it fits. When I can no longer remember when or why I bought it, or what it was to be used for or in, it is also in danger of disposal. Anything older than a week in a clamshell brought home from a restaurant also gets dumped. Not after the week is up, but when the fridge gets cleaned. Generally 3-6 times a year. Clamshells more than two weeks old are NOT to be opened to determine what it used to be. It's just too disturbing.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                tracylee RE: KaimukiMan Oct 9, 2012 08:02 PM

                                                                Oh, I definitely agree about not looking at stuff! Once I'm afraid of something, it all goes.

                                                                What I really hate is hauling my trash bag out to the dumpster for the complex here and returning to find that I forgot to toss some things in the fridge that have been there so long that it seems like I just don't see them anymore.

                                                                1. re: tracylee
                                                                  KaimukiMan RE: tracylee Oct 11, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                  I have a jar of olives that qualifies.

                                                                  1. re: tracylee
                                                                    mojoeater RE: tracylee Oct 11, 2012 08:08 PM

                                                                    In the hot months we freeze the nasties and throw them in the outside bin on pickup day.

                                                                2. f
                                                                  FriedClamFanatic RE: Chinon00 Oct 11, 2012 09:03 PM

                                                                  OMG...............ppl actually organize refridgerators?.....other than size? Are you single????????? Are You Rich???????? Will you Marry me???????????
                                                                  For our honeymoon, you can work on my sock drawer........scary!

                                                                  1. John E. RE: Chinon00 Oct 12, 2012 09:11 PM

                                                                    The success at organizing a refrigerator is related to the number of people with access to that refrigerator. If I lived alone, I'd have the most organized, clutter-free refrigerator of my dreams. What annoys me is when a small item is placed on the top shelf, right where the gallon jug of milk goes (or something else just as large) when it could easily have been placed on a lower shelf. It's about anticipation, organization, and logic. Nobody else in my family has it. I am learning to accept that.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: John E.
                                                                      sandylc RE: John E. Oct 12, 2012 09:19 PM

                                                                      I get that. I do not understand putting small things in large spaces. ??????

                                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                                        John E. RE: sandylc Oct 13, 2012 09:09 AM

                                                                        It annoys me when I open the refrigerator to put, say a kettle of soup, on the top shelf and sitting there, all by itsef, is a single orange, or a small jar of jam. Those items have their place in a drawer or on the door, not the center of the top shelf. They will probably end up pushed to the back of the top shelf and then later the hunt for them is on.

                                                                    Show Hidden Posts