The Super-Simple Tip That Changed How I Organize My Condiments

updated Mar 9, 2021
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If you’re like me, your condiments are a perpetual mystery. I never really know what I have on hand. And while keeping them on a lazy Susan would easily solve the issue, it also requires shelf space where maybe the milk and other groceries would go. So my condiments (and probably yours) are relegated to the bins on the inside of the fridge doors.

Door shelves are actually pretty perfect for this use: The bins are just the right height for storing bottles and maximizing space; bottles and jars are out of the way to make space for the larger items; and no one has to fumble past the Grey Poupon to reach the leftovers. (What else would you store on the doors, anyway?)

But there’s still the issue of not knowing exactly what’s going in those door bins. Do you also have three half-used jars of relish and not a drop of soy sauce when you could have sworn you had some?

I recently came up with a solution that I’m pretty chuffed about — and honestly, I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it sooner: I added labels to my condiment bins.

Label Your Condiment Shelves

We all know labeling is the best way to stay on top of leftovers, frozen goods, really everything, so it makes perfect sense to label those condiment bins. I started with three labels: savory for items like teriyaki sauce, A1, Worcestershire, and balsamic glaze; spicy for hot sauces and pepper jelly; and sweet for jams, jellies, maraschino cherries, and syrup.

I recently added a label for ketchup/mustard, which holds exactly what you’d think — plus relish — and a section labeled food condiments,  which refers to things like pickled jalapeños and banana peppers. 

By categorizing our condiments this way, we only have to search through a small collection of bottles as opposed to shuffling through all of them. It cuts down on frustration when looking for something, tells us exactly where something should be put away, and prevents duplicates and those last minute dashes to the store. 

P.S. A Note About Labeling

Labeling your pantry canisters or storage bins or, as in this case, refrigerator shelves is subject to habituation, that phenomenon that means when we get used to seeing something, we eventually stop seeing it.  You may notice that over time, even if you and the members of your household are initially cooperative and consistent about replacing things where their labels dictate, that the habit fizzles out. While there isn’t really a way to make the labels stand out again, a reminder to your housemates (and yourself!) of how useful it is to pay attention to the labels could revive the practice.

How do you organize your condiments? Share any brilliant ideas in the comments below!