How To: Organize Your Fridge

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With spring cleaning on our brains and the Kitchn Cure for inspiration, we're ready to take a fresh look at the contents of our refrigerator. But once all the expired condiments have been tossed and the shelves wiped clean, what's the best way to put everything away again?

Here's a tip: take one from the pros...Professional kitchens organize their fridges with food safety in mind, storing cold foods according to their cooking temperature.

From top to bottom, you'll find prepared foods that will be served cold or re-heated; then whole cuts of meat and fish; then ground meat; and finally, chicken and other poultry on the very bottom. Since each shelf of food is cooked to a progressively higher temperature, any cross contamination through dripping from above is taken care of during cooking.

We can adopt a similar strategy in our own fridges. Leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat foods (like yogurt, cheese, and deli meats) can be stored on the upper shelves of the fridge, with raw ingredients slated for cooked dishes below. Condiments can go back in the door shelves.

Drawers can be tricky. Since they're designed to hold produce at specific humidities, it makes sense to store fruits and veggies there. But they're usually at the bottom of the fridge, and we risk contaminating our fresh veggies if we put meat on the shelf above,

If you have two drawers, make one of them exclusively for veggies and the other exclusively for raw meat. If one drawer is above the other, use the lowest drawer for meat. If they're side-by-side, either drawer would be fine. Clean the drawer you're using for meat often.

If it's unavoidable to put raw meat above other foods, be sure to put the package on a rimmed plate to catch drips and be extra careful with spills when removing the plate from the fridge.

What other fridge organization tips do you have?

(Photo Credit: Emma Christensen for The Kitchn)