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January 04, 2022 3 min read

If you're like most people, your refrigerator is a complete mess. There may be leftovers from last week at the bottom of the fridge, a jar of mustard up top behind everything else, and the milk carton that expired last month hiding in a shadowy corner.

Many people simply throw all their groceries into the fridge without organizing them in any way. Certain foods should be placed in specific areas of the refrigerator and there’s a science behind it. But there are easier ways to find food more quickly and keep them from spoiling that also happen to save space and energy. Find out how to organize your fridge according to its built-in temperature zones, so your food stays fresh for longer.

Guidelines for Proper Fridge Organization

Knowing which foods keep best in which refrigerator zones, shelves, or drawers helps reduce food waste since the food stays fresh longer. Each refrigerator has different zones depending on the temperature, humidity, and possible cross-contamination with other foods. We've put together guides to each zone below to make meal planning easier and to help you find the ingredients you're looking for faster:

  • Upper Shelves
Leftovers, packaged snacks, drinks, and dips can be stored here. As these items are unlikely to spoil, they are best stored at the top of the fridge, where the temperature tends to be higher and it's convenient that this is also where you're most likely to grab anything at eye level for a quick midnight snack. As these shelves are "in sight, in mind," it's best to store food you'll need to eat soon here.

  • Middle Shelves
You should store foods that need to be kept pretty cold but have a lower risk of spoiling in the middle of your fridge because the temperature is the most consistent. Among these items are eggs, deli meats, sour cream, and soft cheeses.

  • Lower Shelves
Even if you're tempted to store the gallon of milk on the top shelf for easy access, milk holds up best near the bottom and back of the refrigerator, where it is typically the coldest. It also applies to other liquids and softer dairy products, like yogurt, half-and-half, Brie, and cottage cheese. If you're worried about forgetting those items tucked away in the back, stack them on a rotating organizer for easy access to ingredients and expiration dates-a clever way to use a lazy Susan.

All raw meats should be put on a super-cold, very bottom shelf in the fridge. This includes chicken breasts, ribeye steaks, salmon, and pork tenderloins. The meat will remain cold on the bottom and is less likely to spill on other food if it is placed at the bottom. For extra protection, store meats in plastic bags or on plates.

  • Drawers

Drawers aren't just there to keep things organized, but also to maintain a specific level of humidity for keeping different foods fresh for as long as possible. Here's a breakdown of which humidity level belongs in which drawer.

High humidity: The best way to store vegetables is at higher humidity levels. If your refrigerator does not have a vegetable drawer, look for one without a vent (or close it yourself) to keep moisture in for veggies like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, carrots, leafy greens, and Brussels sprouts.

Low humidity: In a low-humidity drawer that is marked "crisper" and has air vents, it is best to store fruits that break down easily and keep better in drier climates, such as strawberries, pears, grapes, oranges, kiwi, and raspberries. You can also keep the drawer slightly cracked if there is no humidity control or air vent.

  • Door
The warmest area in the refrigerator is for storing condiments that are high in vinegar, salt, and preservatives, which tend to have a long shelf life. These little safety bars help you handle bottles of salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, sesame oil, hot sauce, and mayo. Other than spreads, the door is a good choice for beverages like beer, wine, and juice.

The best thing you can do to organize your refrigerator is to clean it out. You’ll have more space, and in turn, a better chance of keeping your food fresh.

Organizing your foods will allow them to last longer and, more importantly, be easier to grab when you are in a hurry to whip up busy weeknight dinners, delicious desserts, tasty breakfasts, and every little snack in between.

If you're planning on upgrading and organizing your kitchen, these multifunctional tools will save you both time and space!

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