Organize your refrigerator (40 days of Organization series)

The kitchen is the heart of the home and being able to organize your refrigerator will help your whole kitchen to feel organized (it does this for me, anyway)♥.  It will feel like a clean kitchen all over!

organize refrigerator                                                                                                                  This post contains affiliate links to things that will help you get organized. :)

The kitchen is where the family gets together.
It is where we do homework, make meals, eat meals, do our arts & crafts, etc. The kitchen is where we spend most of our time.  The only thing that drives me crazy is a messy kitchen.   It can be a sink filled with dishes, a dishwasher that needs unloaded or a refrigerator that feels messy.    So… lets tackle the refrigerator and get it organized (and clean).  I know, not too much fun, but it will get you started.

What you need to begin: 

What you need to do now:

  • Take everything out of your refrigerator (make sure that you have at least 30 minutes to do this because you can’t leave your food sitting out for too long). I would do the freezer section after you do the refrigerator section, to give yourself more time, to avoid thawing your food.
  • Clean the shelves.
  • Scrub the food and spilled drinks from the shelves (soapy water works well for this, or a cleaner, or vinegar and water).
  • Throw away any old food or drinks
  •  Now line your clean shelves with saran wrap or press n seal. When sometime spills, you can just replace the wrap with a new clean sheet. (Thanks to The Virtuous Wife for this tip – here is how she did them.  She used colorful wrap to show us how it works!) line1 line2
    Time To Put Things Back:
  •  Add tape or labels to your items and write the date on anything that is opened. I use a sharpie to write on the lids of things or on the tape if it isn’t a disposable container (ex: applesauce container, write on the lid. Left-over dinner in my own container, write on tape. I would write “2/12/13″ or whatever the date is – Now I will know that this is only good for a week past this date, or whatever your time frame is for your item.) I normally add tape to containers & write on them with a sharpie, like the one below found at Wellness News.  leftoverspd012a
  • When we have eaten the food, I just peel off the tape & throw it away before putting the container into the dishwasher
  • You may want to invest in a turn table for the refrigerator, like Martha Stewart suggests.


  • She also suggests using hanging shelves to keep those little containers organized (like the one under the milk and juice):


  • Combine items and put them into smaller containers (soup into baggies, waffles out of the box and into freezer bags, etc…). I like to make a shelf or basket just for vegetables, one for meats, one for ice cream (yes, I have that much!), etc…    Here is a great example (below) from BHG.

    Onto The Outside of the Refrigerator: 
  • I like to keep most of my things on the side of the refrigerator to keep the front clean. On the front I keep one picture of each of our kids and one thing from school (see my School work & art work organization here)
  •  On the side, I keep pictures of my nieces & my nephew, pictures of friend’s kids and some important paperwork.  We keep some of our favorite art-work from the kids, too.   My calendar & most important papers are in my “command center”.
  • Take everything off of the front and sides.
  • Go through it and throw away what needs to be thrown away.  See if you can move the rest to the side.
  • Tape a large envelope to the side and use it to store important receipts that you need to keep.  When it is full, go through it and throw away what you do not need. This can be a great system for any paperwork.
  • Use another large envelope for other paperwork that you need (school handbooks, etc…)
  •  The same rule goes for the top. It is easy to just throw it up there & forget about it. Today is the day where you remember it and take care of it! If it is something ‘waiting to be fixed’ (in our case, a picture frame was up there for about 6 months!), either fix it or toss it. If it is a book, return it or donate it. If it is paperwork, file it or throw it out!
  •  Now clean the front of the refrigerator until it is shiny and DO NOT FORGET TO CLEAN THE TOP!  It is dusty up there, trust me.
  • Ps- you could buy something like this to organize your spices on the side of the refrigerator, too!

    Good luck! This can be a lengthy process for one little refrigerator, but it is worth it and will make you feel so much ‘cleaner’! Remember to keep up with this. After you are finished reading this, go to your calendar and find the date that is ten days from today & write “Go through refrigerator”. On that day, go back through & throw out old foods, clean up spills, ect…

  • If you are ready to move on to other parts of your kitchen, you can move onto Day two… CABINETS & DRAWERS IN 5 EASY STEPS

  • Or if you are ready to tackle the house, check out my book: Freed from Clutter (all of my organizing tips in one easy-to-download book)

    Happy Organizing!   Share your “after” pictures with me on Instagram by using the hashtag #yourmodernfamily

    If you enjoyed this post, find us on Facebook or Pinterest.


    more posts you might like: 
    organizing your pantry




  1. Cassie D. says

    Hi I’m just reading through these. There are some awesome tips I am sure I will be putting to use. I go through our refrigerator the same day every week. It is usually Tuesday mornings(that’s our garbage day) and I throw out anything that is older than a week or that I know won’t be eaten in the next day or two before it’s week is up. I haven’t done the tape and date thing but will probably do it in the future. I do record what we eat on a wall calendar so I can look back at it and see when things will be “expiring”. Thanks again for all the great ideas in all of the challenges.

  2. Meghan says

    I like to use a wet-erase marker on my leftovers containers instead of tape and sharpie(like Expo Vis-a-Vis–the kind we’d use on overhead transparencies back in elementary school). I keep one within easy reach of the fridge and scribble the date on the container as it goes in. It saves the whole tape step since it washes right off in the dishwasher or with just water. It does not smudge or wash off in the fridge (unless something spills on it).

  3. Stephanie says

    I just found this through Pinterest. And…lent starts tomorrow…just coincidence?? I think not!! ;). Divine intervention?? Probably more likely ;). So I am challenging myself with this, starting tomorrow with my fridge! I did think of my secretary & how she makes fridge clean out every Thursday and then she makes her grocery list off of that for her Friday grocery store trip. I thought she was just a genius!! Wanted to share with everyone. Thanks for your inspiration :)


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