The Real Reason Your Fridge Is Always a Mess

published May 22, 2018
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

My fridge problem isn’t the physical act of cleaning it out; I do that every now and then without trouble. The real issue is keeping it organized and functional for more than a week or two at a time. The whole beautiful array of fresh veggies and lined-up condiments will slowly turn into a jumbled clutter that hides almost-expired products and allows containers of leftovers to grow their own ecosystems in the back.

Turns out, while I make use of my crisper drawers and door shelves to store various produce and accoutrements, I haven’t been leaving space for two key things. And they’re the two elements that might be at the root of my fridge organization derailment issues.

See, whenever I rearrange my fridge, I fail to designate room for leftovers and meal prepping supplies. And those are the things I end up shoving into the fridge haphazardly throughout the week, accidentally concealing other items and disrupting the delicate balance of everything else.

If you can relate — and even if that’s not your fridge cleaning issue — these tips from organizing expert Kristen Ziegler might finally help you whip your fridge and freezer into shape. (For more than just a week or two at a time.)

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Your 15-minute minimalism advice below comes from organizing expert Kristen Ziegler, founder and owner of Minima — a company that helps others declutter and organize.

“Living a more organized, minimalist life can feel like a big undertaking. I promise it gets much easier with time and practice, so don’t fret! (I have personally been at it for 15 years now.) As with any change or new habit, the hardest part is often getting started. The key with all of these projects is to establish clear homes for the things you own. Everyone’s space is different, so use this as a guide, not a rulebook.”

1. Set up your basics.

Your fridge and freezer are likely ever-changing landscapes depending on how recently you went grocery shopping and what’s on the menu for the week. However, some things will remain constant, so I recommend establishing a category for each shelf and drawer and even go so far as to label them. Categories can include fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese/dairy, condiments, beverages, children’s snacks, etc.

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

2. Don’t forget to make a space for those two key things.

One of the most important categories that is often forgotten is leftovers. This can be leftovers from a meal you cooked or leftovers from a dinner out. Consolidating them to one spot shows you what you need to finish before starting a new meal, and then things will be less likely to go to waste.

The same goes for meal prepping and meal planning. If you’ve purchased ingredients specifically for one meal, have a section carved out for that as well.

3. Consider investing in some helpers.

I find it’s easy to do without, but there are some great fridge and freezer organizing products available if you need to create more space or accessibility.

Tour Kristen’s house: A Pro Organizer’s Exceptionally Serene, Minimal Rowhouse at Apartment Therapy

Read more about Kristen’s business on her website, check her out on Instagram, or get more organizing tips by signing up for her newsletter.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Fridge Always a Mess? This Common Reason May Be the Cause