Tips and hacks to help you make the most of your refrigerator

An efficiently arranged refrigerator can help you save time, plan your grocery shopping better and is pleasing to the eye

Woman opening a refrigerator which is organised neatly

It’s time for dinner but there you are with your head poking into the refrigerator. Frantically shuffling jars back and forth on the shelves, searching for that one crucial ingredient you need to finish the dish you are preparing. You look in all the bottles and cans in the hope to find it, but in vain. If only you had organised your refrigerator better!

We may not give it much thought, but a neat and well-organised refrigerator not only makes it easier for us to fetch things from it when we need them but also keeps the food fresh for long. Here’s how you can do it:

Arrange the shelves

Clean the shelves well and then rearrange them smartly such that your refrigerator is more functional and better suited to your needs. If the arrangement of the shelves is right, then your refrigerator will have more air-circulation and will also look neat and tidy. At least one shelf in the fridge should be able to accommodate tall containers. And you can keep one for the smaller bottles and cans.

At least one shelf in the fridge should be able to accommodate tall containers

Use shelf liners

Spills happen all the time and cleaning the fridge shelf after a spill can be a tedious process. Protect your refrigerator from spills by using shelf liners. There are many shelf liners available in the market like soft towels, cling wrappers, white vinyl, plastic transparent liners etc. Take your pick! Whenever a spill happens on the shelf, it's easier to remove the liner and clean it, that removing the shelf out. Plus, shelf liners add a colourful touch to your refrigerator.

Place similar items together

Arrange your food items based on their category, type or usage and designate a fixed place for them in your refrigerator. For example, place your fruits in the low humidity drawer, condiments in one place, and milk and other beverages in another place. This will help you to easily find the items you need. You can also use trays to further compartmentalise the items. Choose trays that are not too bulky and do not take more space by themselves. So you could place all the condiments in one tray, sauces in another and so on.

Use containers the right way

  • Prefer square and rectangle shapes. Store items in square or rectangle containers because they can be stacked well and would also fit into the corners easily. Also make sure that the containers are covered securely.
  • Choose see-through containers. See-through containers are best because you know what is inside the container and what you are looking for. It also saves you the trouble of labelling the containers.
  • Prefer glass containers. Glass containers are eco-friendly and allow you to reheat  food in them to high temperatures.
  • Use matching colour containers. This is not a must, but it’s a simple trick to make your refrigerator look beautiful and well organised. For example, you could coordinate white and blue containers or same colour containers.
  • ‘Use me soon’ tray. For foods that need to be consumed within a week or so, place them in a specific tray that is meant only for items that are soon to perish. This way there will be no wastage and you won’t have to keep a list of those items on the top of your mind.

Use freezer bags or green bags

Save space in your refrigerator by storing food in air-tight bags, freezer bags or green bags.

Freezer bags. Store your food items in freezer bags that are free from BPA [Bisphenol A]. Freezer bags are inexpensive and available in different sizes. Also, they can be easily stacked and labelled.

Green bags. Use green bags to store vegetables and fruits, as they tend to keep them fresh for longer.

Use bottle stacker

It’s very likely that you will run out of space to keep bottles in your fridge door and will then need to use the shelves. To prevent the bottles from rolling to and fro on the shelf use a bottle stacker. These can be used to place your wine, soft drinks and ever ketchup bottles. These stackers also hold cans well. You can get it as a flexible rubber mat.

Label containers and shelves

Label containers. Use food storage labels or a marker to write down the item name and the date it is packed in the container. By this, every three days you could do a random check and clean the refrigerator by removing the unwanted containers.

Label shelves. If you have many drawers and bins, label all of them just to identify and replace the food items easily. This habit will prove useful after you’ve just got your groceries and are stocking up the fridge. Instead of randomly dumping things in any shelf, labels will make sure that each item has its designated place. Likewise, you could also store food in a bin and label it as “Kids” so that your kids could reach them easily.

Require cool air circulation

In order to prevent your food from spoiling too early and to maintain your food at a safe temperature, avoid overloading your refrigerator with a lot of food. Cool air needs to circulate to keep food at the required temperature.

Organise items based on humidity and temperature

Store food items that spoil easily like curd, desserts, fresh cream and ripe fruits on the coldest shelf. Fruits could be stored in the low humidity drawer while vegetables could be kept on the high humidity drawer.

Small items ahead

Always place big items at the back of the refrigerator and the small ones in front, so that you can clearly see what you have. This also helps to avoid wastage of food items.

You may also like: Put them into cold storage

Store only necessary fruits and veggies

Some fruits and vegetables like onions and potatoes do not need refrigeration. They can be safely stored on your kitchen countertop for two to three weeks. This way, you could have more room in your refrigerator for food that does require refrigeration.


This article first appeared in the February 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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