The #1 Mistake You Can Make When Organizing Your Fridge

Updated 03/14/17

It's not easy being a master of all—but that doesn't stop us from trying. To help you in the ever-ongoing pursuit of thriving in your career, your personal life and beyond, we’re debuting a new series called Keep It 100 in partnership with Dole Packaged Foods. Each week, we’ll share helpful hacks and tips on how to balance the various interests in your life, and help you keep it at 100 every day. 

Admit it: It’s a jungle in there. Your fridge has gone all barbaric on you, and you don’t know how to bring it back to civility. Well, we think it’s high time to show it who’s boss. As with every other storage area in the home, if you don’t keep an eye on things, your fridge can start to fill up with piles of unsavory (and, in this case, unsanitary) clutter. So, we figured, why not apply the organization methods we’ve used in all the other rooms of the house to tackle the fridge?

To that end, we chatted with Marissa Hagmeyer, a professional organizer and CMO of Neat Method, a luxury residential organizing company. “The kitchen truly is the heart of the home, and therefore it’s a great place to start getting organized,” shares Hagmeyer, who says one of the biggest mistakes people make is not going through their fridges often enough to toss expired products. The organization process begins the minute you arrive home from the grocery store and start unpacking new items, she notes, and today she’s showing you how it’s done.

Continue reading for tips on how to declutter each shelf in your fridge. The neat freak inside of you will rejoice.

For the Top Shelf

Bianca Gonzalez

When stored in fridge doors, bulky dairy and juice cartons can mysteriously go bad before their expiration dates, Hagmeyer cautions. But there’s a solution for that: “If you store liquids in the fridge doors, they can easily spill, and the door temperature sometimes varies,” she notes. “Instead, place them on a shelf, and make sure you can see everything you have by putting the larger items in the back and smaller in front.”

Take it a step further by transferring beverages into pitchers or carafes, which not only look nice but also can prolong the freshness. 

For The Shelf at Eye Level

Bianca Gonzalez

For all your items that have a shorter shelf life, like eggs and yogurt, place them on the center shelf so that you don't forget about them. This shelf is also where you should place any daily essentials, like breakfast items or snacks you reach for regularly. For example, we always make sure we have fruit that's already cleaned, washed, cut, and ready to eat, like DOLE FRUIT BOWLS®. These snacks are packed in 100% juice, so that you know exactly what you're getting. And, the center shelf is also a great storage spot for leftover. Designating a place for them, will help you remember to eat what's there before you add to it.

For the Bottom Shelf

Bianca Gonzalez

Okay, this is Fridging 101: When handling raw meats, the risk of cross-contamination and bacteria spreading to various kitchen surfaces is quite high. Before you put meat, poultry or fish in the fridge, check their packaging for holes or tears. If you suspect a puncture, seal the item in a plastic bag or in cellophane to lock in the juices.

“It’s best to keep raw meat and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge to avoid the potential of juices dripping down and contaminating the other foods in your fridge,” advises Hagmeyer. “If you want to be extra cautious, place all meats in a clear storage bin.”

For The Fridge Door

Since your fridge door has a narrower shelf, it's perfect to line up your condiments. Hagmeyer recommends grouping like items together, like your salad dressings, your ethnic condiments, or if you're a hot sauce fanatic, place all the hot sauces onto one shelf. Hagmeyer says, “Dedicating shelves to certain condiment categories and labeling them accordingly allows you to keep them organized.”

For The Crisper

Bianca Gonzalez

The key words here are “ready to eat.” More often than not, we tend to overdo it in the produce aisle and end up purchasing an excessive amount of vegetables that end up spoiling in less than a week. “One way to streamline veggies and fruit is to put the items that you don’t plan on using right away in the freezer, and the ones that are day-of ingredients go in the crispers,” Hagmeyer says.

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