8 Smart Strategies to Maximize Fridge Space, According to Busy Moms

published Mar 6, 2022
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Creating and maintaining a food-organizing system can feel like a full-time job — especially if you’re an avid home cook or you’ve got multiple mouths to feed. (Seriously. Who keeps putting the salad dressing in the cheese drawer?) There are, however, a few storage strategies that can make the task feel less daunting (and maybe even fun). We spoke with eight busy moms who manage to keep their refrigerators organized amidst daily chaos — here are their best strategies for maximizing fridge space.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. Make kids’ snacks accessible.

Encouraging your kid to grab their own after-school snacks is a good way to foster independence — but if your fridge isn’t organized strategically, it’s also a good way for little hands to make a huge mess. Lindsey Grip Westerfield says she religiously keeps her kids’ snacks down low on the refrigerator door. This way, they can see, find, and reach for mom-approved food themselves. (The same idea is useful in pantries, too!)

2. Repurpose organizers you may already have.

When it comes to fridge storage bins, think outside of the box. Lindsey Unterberger’s child is now older, so she makes use of a breastmilk storage bin (she uses The First Years brand) to keep applesauce and yogurt pouches organized in the fridge. It’s the perfect shape for keeping toddler snacks neat and upright. If you have any storage bins your child has outgrown, this might be a good way to use them.

3. Store condiments on a lazy Susan.

If you find yourself regularly cramming condiments in the refrigerator door, take this tip from mom Eliana Stranz. “I bought a lazy Susan for sauces, condiments, and pickles that don’t fit well in the door,” she says. “It’s so nice not to have to be constantly pulling things out to get to the food in the back!”

4. Or create a condiment bucket.

Katie Whitten says she uses a simple rectangular bin to hold condiments, which she keeps on the fridge shelf and then sets right on the table for meals. The setup, she says, results in fewer trips back and forth at mealtime. Plus, it frees up valuable fridge door space and keeps things from falling to the back of the fridge, where open bottles are often left to rot. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Buy only what you’ll use.

Another way to save space in your fridge: Meal plan! Because produce takes up a lot of space, Sam Cahill recommends only buying the fruits and veggies you’ll actually use for kids’ lunches and recipes. (This also helps save you money and cut back on food waste!) If you need more room, she suggests keeping a mini fridge in your garage (perfect for lunch boxes, grocery overflow, and events when you need extra space). Also, consider frozen veggies.

6. Shop for half-gallon milk jugs.

If your family drinks milk (or eats cereal!), the gallon-sized jugs might be more economical, but they do take up a lot of space. Danielle Bjorling says she sticks to the half-gallon cartons instead, which are conveniently shaped to slide right into an already-full fridge. “I can actually fit six half gallons better than two full gallon containers,” she explains.

7. Bring your own food storage containers to restaurants.

Linda Murphy says bringing her own food-storage containers for restaurant leftovers ends up saving space in her fridge. To make the most of a leftover system — even if you’re cooking dinner at home — choose stackable containers, and label them so you know what’s what.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

8. Edit your fridge regularly.

You’d be surprised how much room your old food can take up, says mom Alysha Godsparek. To make room for new groceries (and prevent waste), she always goes through her fridge and consumes or freezes things that are about to expire or go bad. Bonus: Less wasted food is also better for your pocketbook and the environment.

How do you maximize space in your fridge? Tell us in the comments below.