I Listened To A Lot of Organization Advice

How to organize the fridge

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

2021 is my year to clear, and January is all about the kitchen.

My refrigerator was recently featured as the "before" photo in one of our Instagram posts about kitchen organization. The unmarked leftovers, greens fraternizing with cheeses, and high number of hot sauces in there gave people a lot of feelings. It's okay, everyone. The cleanse is underway. 

During winter break, I had time. I interviewed my neatest friends, read articles, and listened to organization podcasts, and I tried different pieces of advice. It's humbling to follow instructions about something that comes naturally to so many, but part of the success of this project is refusing to be embarrassed. These are tips I turn to again and again as I tackle this engaging, persistent ambition.

  • 01 of 05

    Taking the First Step

    messy unorganized refrigerator
    esemelwe / Getty Images

    It's not too late. Everyone else organized their kitchens back in April; I was concentrating on other things—like making edible playdough, making sourdough starter, or cleaning my groceries. Most advise to think of organizing as a practice instead of a project. This relieved the pressure of beginning.

  • 02 of 05

    Don't Binge, Do One Thing At A Time

    How to Freeze Produce

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Don't spend more than 2 hours in a row organizing anything, ever. If you binge, you won't do it again soon. Today, my freezer is a dream, my utensil drawer is placid, the left side of my fridge is highly respectable. But I still own 12 different hot sauces, long javanese peppercorns given to me as a gift in 2001, and cannot comprehend any of the grains in my corner cabinet. Overall, my kitchen is genuinely more clear, and I know this because I spend less time searching for things.

  • 03 of 05

    Small Changes, Simple Steps

    Tiny Habits


    Make tiny habits. Shrink new habits down into the tiniest possible parts, according to the author of the book Tiny Habits. To start a new habit, tie it to an old one and high-five yourself each time you do it. I set my timer for my French press, and while my coffee steeps, I clean. Now my kettle is shiny, my fridge foods are labeled, there are no spoons in my fork compartment, and I have consolidated two ketchups into the same bottle.

  • 04 of 05

    Decluttering and Saving Space

    How to Organize Pantry Items

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Purge first. After I made room in my cabinets by eating up staples I'd stockpiled in the spring in comforting casseroles, it was much easier to tell what kind of storage I really needed. I have measured my shelves for stackable storage in the same size, which will save space and add structure, and move from my fridge to my freezer to my kitchen drawers.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Reap the Benefits of Organizing Your Kitchen

    Storing Everything In The Kitchen

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Talk to your belongings. Three different organizers suggested this, which helps both understanding and parting with things. I asked my cookie press, "When was the last time I used you?" It did not answer, so I moved it much farther away. I said, "Why do I want to keep you?" to the burnt spoon my sister gave me and added the answer to a list. I said, "Thank you," to an impulse spice blend I thought I wanted, and gently showed it the door.