1. The coldest spots in your fridge are in the back near the freezer compartment. Check your individual fridge with a refrigerator thermometer to see which shelf is the coldest. Keep milk, dairy, eggs (in their cartons) and raw meat in that area.
2. Avoid cross-contamination with meat by placing it in a container, either a bin or rimmed tray (a shallow plate can easily slosh blood and juices around when moved). This will keep anything from dripping to foods below.
3. Keep regularly used condiments and sauces on the doors where they’re easily accessible. Stash items that are used only every so often together toward the back of the fridge. Visit them occasionally to remind or inspire yourself to use them up. Know which items don’t need to be refrigerated so they don’t take up precious space. Keep hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, potatoes and onions outside of the fridge.
4. Group like items together to avoid hunting around or buying duplicates: ketchup, mustard, mayo, salad dressings and salsas; jams, sweet spreads and syrups; pickled items like capers, olives and pickles; and ethnic ingredients like miso, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, curry pastes and chutneys. Keeping them in bins will allow you to pull them all out together.
5. Bins are also useful to corral odds and ends, like tubes of tomato and anchovy paste, or items that don’t necessarily stack nicely, like juice pouches and string cheese.
6. Arrange taller containers in the back and shorter ones in the front so it’s easier to see the labels.
7. Place items that need to be used up, like tomato sauce, toward the front of the fridge.
8. If you’re short on vertical space, bottles of wine often fit in deli drawers.
9. Invest in both glass and plastic containers that stack easily and are see-through. They’ll look more streamlined and you can instantly find what you need. Square or rectangular containers are more space efficient. Transfer the remains of half-used containers to smaller containers to free up space. Pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the food will help it hold longer.
10. Place leftovers that need to be reheated in glass containers or other lidded microwave-safe vessels. Remember to label them with the name and expiration date. Store leftovers together on the same shelf so you don’t need to rummage around to find them and there’s less chance of leftovers migrating to the cemetery at the back of the fridge. Leftovers should be eaten within three or four days, so if you don’t remember making or buying it that week, chuck it.
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