The 30 Most Brilliant Tricks of All Time for Organizing Your Fridge and Freezer

updated Sep 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Organizing your fridge and freezer is an art. These two spaces are the most prone to spills, tumbles, and forgotten-about elements that will spoil and get gross over time. Anyone who excels at organizing these spaces deserves a medal. For everyone else, there’s this list of 30 tips.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

1. Label everything.

Especially in the freezer, which is where leftovers often go to die. Make sure to include the date and what’s inside. Because you might not recognize what’s in that container three months from now (even if you think you will).

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

2. Store meat on the fridge’s lowest shelf.

There’s always a chance that a package of meat can leak. If that package is on the top shelf, that means meat juice could drip down onto everything that’s below it. Put the meat on the bottom-most shelf and you’ll minimize the mess.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

3. Or at least in a special bin.

If the bottom shelf doesn’t make sense for how you like to organize things, at the very least, just keep all your meat in special bin. The bin will corral the juices, should a leak occur.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

4. Put an empty egg carton bottom on your fridge door.

All the credit for this brilliant hack goes to Alton Brown. He figured out that the bottom of an egg carton is the perfect holder for upside-down condiment bottles. This way, you can get every last drop from a bottle and things wont topple over every time you open the door.

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Or get a lazy Susan.

It’s no secret that we’re major fans of the lazy Susan. We like them in cabinets, on pantry shelves, and in the fridge. Put one toward the front of a shelf and you’ll always be able to access your smaller bottles without knocking things over. This one is our favorite because it has a non-slip grip that helps keep bottles upright.

(Image credit: The Container Store)

6. Invest in a few other organizers.

We hate telling people to buy things just to get organized, but some things really are worth the money. In addition to the life-changing lazy Susan, we also love this guy above and everything else in the link below.

(Image credit: Jessica Fisher)

7. Keep a freezer inventory.

One way to eliminate clutter in the freezer? Keep an inventory of what you already have in there so that you don’t buy anything you don’t really need.

(Image credit: Maria)

8. Put things in the fridge based on how you’re going to cook them.

The fridges in professional kitchens get organized based on the temperature the foods need to be cooked to. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not. You just need to think of things in zones.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

9. Freeze things in pre-portioned sizes.

Instead of freezing cumbersome blocks of meat, open each package as you get home from the grocery store and repackage everything into portions that work for your family. Then you can grab (only) what you need, when you need it.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

10. And make sure they’re flat.

This goes for meat, sauces, soups, and anything else that makes sense. Rather than freezing an asymmetrical blob, you can freeze packages like file folders in horizontal or vertical stacks.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

11. Use binder clips to label your shelves.

Label all your food and the shelves, while you’re at it. Just add a label to the side of a binder clip and attach the whole thing to the side of your shelf. This way, everyone in your household knows what goes where.

Read more:

(Image credit: Amazon)

12. Pick up these well-reviewed, stackable containers.

Also known as deli containers, these types of plastic containers are a go-to for profession kitchens. They can go in the fridge or freezer, are clear, can be stacked, and are great at protecting your food from freezer burn.

(Image credit: Amazon)

13. Or these.

We’re also huge fans of these Rubbermaid Brilliance containers, which are especially great if you’re storing leftovers that you want to bring to the office for lunch later in the week. If you want something glass, try these from OXO. These sets are all stackable and will keep your fridge or freezer nice and organized.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

14. And some zip-top bags.

Before you call us out for being wasteful, just know that we recommend reusing plastic baggies. Here’s why one of our food editor swears by them.

15. Rearrange the layout.

Most fridge shelves can be adjusted — even the ones on the door. If they’re not working for you the way they are, take everything out and reposition them. Also, did you know that most doors can be adjusted too? If your fridge and freezer doors open on the left but you’d rather they open on the right, you can most likely swap them. Try Googling for the manual if you need instructions.

16. Designate a spot in your fridge for leftovers and meal prepping.

Pretend, for a second, that you just cleaned and organized your fridge. (Yay, you!) Everything has a place and everything is in its place. But now you have no place to put tonight’s leftovers or the veggies you’re going to roast this weekend. Make sure you leave space for those two things!

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

17. If you have a teeny, tiny freezer, take the shelves out.

This solution might not be for everyone, but if you’re struggling with a tiny freezer, it might be worth a try. It worked for one of Kitchn’s contributors.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

18. Use chopsticks to create more space.

Don’t let a bowl with a foil-covered top take up more space than it needs. Just use a pair of chopsticks (we know you have a bunch left over from takeout nights) to create a base that’ll allow you stack another bowl on top.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

19. Or a baking sheet.

A baking sheet will do the same thing — only it’ll create even more space. Put one on top of a casserole dish or a bowl and you have, essentially, a whole extra shelf.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

20. Ditch as many boxes as you can.

Boxes are bulky and take up valuable space. Whenever it makes sense, take the contents out of the box and stash them in a basket or a bin. If there are cooking directions on the box that you may need, cut them out and tape them to the package.

21. Set up an “eat first” bin.

If there’s stuff in your fridge that will go bad soon, gather it up and keep it together in a bin toward the front. You’ll see it first and will be more likely to eat that stuff first. You can also set an official house rule that says you have to eat that stuff first.

22. And a snack bin.

Got young kids? Set up another bin in the fridge with all their favorite snacks (string cheese, yogurt, apple sauce cups, etc.). Then, when they want a snack, they can help themselves from the bin.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

23. Marie Kondo your condiments.

We want to pay a research firm to find out how many condiments the average American fridge contains. Because we’d bet it’s more than a dozen. And most of them are just languishing there. Take them all out and decide which ones spark joy (read: you’ll actually use) before you put them back.

24. And then organize them based on meal type or cuisine.

Think about which meals or which cuisines you use each condiment for. Put all your nut butters and jams together, all your stir-fry ingredients together, etc. This way, you won’t have to dig around when you’re making a certain dish.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

25. Make DIY magnetic containers.

You can buy magnetic storage containers, but you can also just make your own with plastic containers, some glue, and magnets. Once they’re ready, fill them up with little stuff (like chopped onions or herbs) and stick them on the wall inside your fridge to free up shelf space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

26. Pre-freeze your fruit.

It’s an extra step to freeze your fruit on a baking sheet before you freeze it for good, but it’ll keep the pieces from clumping, which makes them neater to store.

Read more:

(Image credit: Crate and Barrel)

27. Invest in spill-proof ice cube trays.

What’s that? You have a built-in ice maker? You still need at least one ice cube tray to freeze stock, sauces, herbs-in-oil, etc. And this tray from OXO has a silicone lid, which keeps liquids from spilling out — even when you store it on an angle.

Buy: OXO No-Spill Ice Cube Tray, $10 at Crate & Barrel

(Image credit: Anna Hoychuk)

28. Learn how to use your crisper drawers.

Don’t just use your crisper drawers for beer bottles and bread. There’s an actual science to them; when you use them correctly you’ll not only free up space, but you’ll also make your food last longer.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

29. Keep your ice cream off the door.

The door is the warmest place in your freezer, so find another spot for your ice cream cartons. Ditto for your fridge and the milk.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

30. Minimize the clutter on the outside of your fridge, too.

No matter how neat your kitchen happens to be, if there are a bunch of pictures, flyers, and “artwork” posted on your fridge and freezer, the room is going to look more cluttered. Curate the collection down to a few items and file the rest away.

Got any other tips to add? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.