Having an unorganized or cluttered refrigerator can not only be stressful but can also cause food to spoil faster, and spills to go unnoticed. All of the items in your refrigerator have areas that they should be located depending on the temperature or humidity they require. So take a minute to learn about the different areas of your refrigerator and what should be stored on them to maximize your foods freshness and keep your fridge organized!
The door of the refrigerator has the warmest temperature throughout the entire fridge. Since most refrigerators have shelves or bins on the door it seems like a great space to store a lot of foods. However, because of the temperature of the door the types of food that can be stored on the door are limited. Foods and drinks that contain more preservatives or have longer shelf lives are the items that should be stored here. Many times people will store milk or eggs in the door of the refrigerator. However, because of the warmer temperature of the door items like these will go bad quicker when there.
- Condiments, dressings, juices, sodas, water, and butter
- Milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and meats
Following the door the top shelf is the second warmest area of the refrigerator. This area should be used to refrigerate you’re ready to eat foods and faster moving items. Foods that need to be kept cool but will not necessarily spoil quickly are perfect for this area. If your refrigerator does not have a specified area for cheeses they can be stored on the top shelf as well.
- Left overs, sauces and dips, breads, cheeses
- Meats, milk, eggs, produce
The middle shelf is the most central part of the refrigerator both temperature wise and location wise. This area should be used to house items such as milk and eggs that need to be kept at the cooler temperatures as well as easily accessible. Many refrigerators will have a drawer attached to the middle shelf or one that hangs down from the top shelf into the middle shelf. This drawer should be used to store deli meats, or cheeses.
- Milk, eggs, deli meats, cheeses, smoothies, baking soda, yogurt
- Raw meats, produce
The lower shelf of the refrigerator is the coolest area within the refrigerator unit. This area should be used to store more raw ingredients or items that need to be cooked before you can eat them such as raw chicken. If certain dairy products are unable to fit on the middle shelf they can be stored on the bottom shelf as well. This area can also be used to house certain produce items that either do not fit in the drawers or can be kept at a lower humidity.
- Raw meats, fish, lower humidity produce (i.e apples and avocados), extra dairy products
- Left overs, high humidity produce
Most refrigerators will have two or three drawers on the bottom of the unit. That, most likely, you are able to adjust the humidity for. These drawers should be used to store your produce items and if there is not a drawer on the middle shelf for your deli meats or cheeses, those items as well.
- High Humidity
- Green vegetables, leafy greens, fresh herbs, eggplant, strawberries, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, watermelon, unripe bananas
- Medium Humidity
- Deli meats, cheese
- Low Humidity
- Melons, kiwis, mangos, apples, pears, avocados, plums, peaches, ripe bananas, nectarines, plantains
Organization and Sanitary Tips
- Eggs absorb odors, keep eggs in their original container or and air tight bin to prevent odor absorption.
- Use bins and label them!
- Line shelves and drawers with plastic wrap or refrigerator liner.
- Try using a lazy Susan to make items more accessible.
- Reuse six unit cardboard boxes for storing condiments.
- Use a journal to log everything that is in your refrigerator with the date you bought it and its expiration date. This will prevent you from re-buying items you already have and keep you conscious of when items need to be used or disposed by.
- Only items that can be washed or are stored in an air tight container can go in the same area as raw meat to prevent cross contamination.
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Written By: Claire Begalke