The One Tool That Helps Me Keep My Fridge Organized

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner.

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How to organize the fridge

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

I am always looking for ways to better organize my space. My closets, bookshelves, and living room all have baskets or bins that are both decorative and purposeful. The back trunk of my car even has cardboard boxes strategically placed and filled with tools, reusable totes, and cleaning supplies. But until recently, my fridge has always fallen into the “I’ll get to it later” category.

I’m a full-time food and wine writer, and as such, my refrigerator is always filled to the brim with ingredients for the recipes I plan to test and bottles of wine I have yet to taste. And then there’s all the leftovers. By which I mean: It’s an absolute wreck in there. On an almost weekly basis, I hear something crash to the ground when my partner opens the fridge for a late-night snack. After the third jar of pickles shattered on our kitchen floor, I knew something had to be done.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching fridge organization videos on TikTok—too many hours, to be honest—and while I find some tactics to be a bit excessive (like putting raspberries into another container that looks exactly like the one they come in come in), the videos inspired me to finally tackle the problem that is my fridge.

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The Spruce Eats / Julie Laing

The Clear Bins That Helped Me Organize My Fridge

The first thing I did was take stock of what foods and ingredients are a permanent fixture in my fridge: condiments, sauces, yogurt, eggs, oat milk, fresh citrus. I built categories around these staples, and purchased these clear bins to help organize the contents based on how I cook with them. One is entirely dedicated to sweet ingredients like jams, syrup and honey. Another is filled with Asian ingredients such as soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, miso, mirin, gochujang, sriracha, and our many different jars of chili crisp. I cordoned my partner’s hot sauce collection into one bin, putting his favored bottlings towards the front for easier access. Our “pickled” bin of pickles, olives, capers and more sits on the top shelf now, front and center, so there’s no digging or grabbing that would result in another broken jar. And I’ve pulled those lemons, limes and oranges out of the bottom of the fruit drawer, as I find I use them more regularly if their vibrant colors shout out to me every time I open the fridge.

Now, when I’m testing recipes or taking stock of what we’re running out of while writing my grocery list, I know exactly where to look. There’s no guessing, no fumbling around, no getting frustrated when I discover that I actually have three opened jars of mayonnaise in there. The organization system also helps my partner, who cooks less frequently than I do, to find things in the ever-evolving chaos.

As we set intentions and goals at the start of another new year, I implore you to take stock of what’s living in the depths of your refrigerator and organize it in whatever way works best for you and your family. I, for one, am looking forward to all the time and headaches a well-organized fridge will save me in 2023.