The $3 School Supply Item That Keeps My Kitchen Organized

updated Aug 20, 2019
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I spend a lot of time staring into my refrigerator. Ask me the exact location of the hot sauce or how many eggs are left in the carton (five, currently) and I can tell you intimate details without cracking the door. (Nobody does this, but I could, anyway.)

How do I keep such a sharp mental inventory of my fridge? One part is that I label everything (what it is and the date it was made). And after years of experimenting I’ve only found one thing that sticks to every surface, from jars to bags, and foil-covered baking dishes.

Credit: Patty Catalano

I have drawers full of tape from masking to washi, but freezer tape is the only labeling adhesive I’ll use in my kitchen anymore. The tape looks suspiciously like regular masking tape, but the difference is its adhesive. Freezer tape stays in place even in the low temperatures of the refrigerator and freezer. The sticky glue even holds as food thaws — when most other labels slide right off.

Credit: Patty Catalano

Freezer tape sticks best to foil-covered casseroles and meal prep containers that aren’t yet cold from the fridge. Condensation will keep the tape from sticking, so it’s best to start with clean and dry containers, or wipe them down if you need to.

Credit: Patty Catalano

Just because it’s called freezer tape doesn’t mean you can only use it there, however. I’ve organized my pantry canisters with the freezer tape so I always know what ingredient to reach for. And unlike other kinds of tape, freezer tape never leaves a sticky reside. (If you’ve already make the mistake of using the wrong tape, here’s how to clean those containers.)

And as I said, I always add the date: Labeling leftovers with when is almost as important as making note of what. A quick glance in the fridge can tell you that there are leftovers waiting, but it takes some serious recall to remember how many days they’ve spent on the shelf. Date labeling isn’t just for fresh foods — labeling perishable dry goods like baking soda (as in the image above), yeast, and spices with when they were opened will save you from serving under-seasoned or less-than-leavened food.