Recently updated on April 17th, 2024

Overhead picture of various summer camp supplies including sunscreen, clothes, bug spray, and sunglasses.

We’ve all been down this road before! You open the refrigerator door and all of a sudden, you can’t find anything! The one thing you’ve been waiting all day to eat or drink isn’t there. Or is it? And if it’s there, is it still good anymore?

Well, there is hope for you. Your friends here at Ocean State Job Lot have five friendly tips to share to make it very easy to organize your fridge so that you can find anything at any time. So, let’s open the refrigerator door and let the bright light shine on the solutions!

A woman cleaning her refrigerator with a sponge and spray.

Step 1: Clean and Inventory Your Fridge

Your first battle will be to find what’s actually in your fridge. A full purge is in order. So, yes, even though it’s the very last thing that you want to do, take everything out. You may have to put some food in storage bags during the transfer.

Next, you’ll want to take a damp sponge like a Scrub Daddy or Scotch-Brite heavy-duty sponge, cloth and multipurpose soap that you can find at your local Ocean State Job Lot and clean every inch of your fridge. It’s those essential cleaning supplies that will make your refrigerator smell fresh before putting baking soda in to do the rest of the job. Make sure you put on some cleaning gloves before you get started.

Take stock of what’s still good to go back into your fridge. This is where you will want to start thinking about how to group your foods to make them as accessible as possible in our upcoming steps.

Tips for Effective Cleaning

See if your shelves can slide out so you can soak them and get those corners completely clean of any food stains, rust or mold. For those that come out, go over them with a dry cloth before putting them back in the fridge to avoid condensation.

Food categorized together in a refrigerator.

Step 2: Categorize Your Food Items

When putting your food back in, try to stack items together where you can see them. Having categories of similar items will help when you’re looking for something to eat or cook. You’ll also want to keep a little room around each area of food in order to easily identify them.

Use of Bins and Containers

This is where large or small containers would be of the best use. Ocean State Job Lot has a variety of food storage organizers in many sizes and what’s even better is that they come at prices you won’t believe!

Talk about helping the kids find snacks, healthy fruits, and drinks easier? Well this is the way! They’ll always gravitate to what they see first, so give them an easy route and watch how they follow! You’ll be happy you did.

You can even take the storage to the next level by packing lunches for the kids or family members for work the next day. They’ll make for easy take-on-the-go and make those busy mornings a bit less frantic for every one in the family.

An “eat me first” sign hanging in the refrigerator for an FIFO (first in, first out) system.

Step 3: Implement a First In, First Out (FIFO) System

This may seem pretty simple and obvious, but most of us make this mistake over and over again. You want to use the food that you put in the fridge first as a leftover before moving on to something else.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat last night’s yummy leftovers, it just means that you better get to the things you put in the previous few days before the ones you did last night. If you don’t, none of it will be good and you’ll be throwing it all away, costing you money and wasting food. It’s a double whammy.

Importance of FIFO in Food Freshness

By checking your expiration dates, you’ll be able to keep a good handle on what’s about to go to waste. Go through it at least once a week just to be sure. No one needs that surprise of food going bad one day after you want it. Remember, the nose knows. So, if you start smelling something bad, that’s a tell-tale sign.

Step 4: Optimize Fridge Layout for Accessibility and Efficiency

When it comes to making the most of the size and space in your refrigerator, think of it like a puzzle. But, think of it like a puzzle that you have to access several times a day!

Understand your fridge’s zones. Keep fruits and vegetables in your crisper. Meats and cheese also usually have their own places. Finally, side doors are perfect places for drinks, condiments, and things like butter, or cream cheese.

Depending on what size fridge you have, the bulk of your items will go on the shelves in the middle. You’ll want to group similar types of food together to make things easier on the eyes. Put meats on the bottom shelf just in case they leak.

A refrigerator organized with fruits and vegetables.

Step 5: Maintain Your Fridge Organization

This is the part that may be the hardest for you and your family: keeping it organized. If you don’t follow through on all the hard work you’ve done so far, it only takes a few days to destroy it and before you know it, those same pungent smells will return and you’ll be tossing uneaten leftovers in the trash. Plus, think of all the dishes you’ll have to clean. No one needs that!

Make adjustments as you move along. Remember, none of this is set in stone and should be catered to your daily and weekly needs. The ultimate goal is to save money and avoid throwing food away.

Enjoy Your Newly Organized Fridge

Now with all the hard work out of the way, go grab a snack or two. Ocean State Job Lot has plenty of ingredients for meals to make and store in your freshly cleaned refrigerator during your busy week. You’ve earned it and you’ll love the dough you’re saving by not throwing away spoiled food!