Works For Me: Fridge Organization

WfmwbannerLet’s just come right out with it.

There couldn’t be anyone in the whole internet less qualified to write this post than I am.  My refrigerator is one of my most serious problem areas, and it’s not just because that’s where the Hershey’s syrup lives. 

Of all the areas of my house that spiral out of control, my refrigerator is almost certain to spiral the most vigorously. 

But I’m trying to turn over a new leaf, and I thought I’d share my results so far.

A couple of weeks ago, I took everything out of my fridge, cleaned every possible surface and tossed out everything that was expired.  And while it wasn’t the most fun job, I can’t even tell you how good I felt when it was all done.  I celebrated with a giant swig of Hershey’s syrup.

Oh, I’m kidding.

No, I’m not.

Anyway.

One of the things that overwhelms me most about managing my fridge is having a system for thawing Fridge3meat.  If I set the package directly on the shelf, I worry about bacteria, but it’s a hassle (and wasteful) to seal it up in a fresh Ziploc bag every time. 

So I’ve set out this glass dish (right) as a permanent solution.   Any meat to be thawed goes directly in the glass dish.  No more rearranging items to make a spot.  The glass dish is always there.  Fresh meat from the store can go directly in here too.  Every few of days, I can toss the dish in the dishwasher–no more concerns about bacteria.

But before we get to the part where you share your links, let’s pause for a moment to glory in the entire finished product.  (Nope, no "before" picture, because I’m afraid y’all would have sent the health department to shut me down.)

Fridge

Please notice the labels on the shelves.  I really needed a label to tell me which shelf was for salad dressing, because the 18 bottles of salad dressing just weren’t hint enough.

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102 thoughts on “Works For Me: Fridge Organization

  1. Daiquiri says:

    I thought you were brave to go to Africa…but now you’re posting pictures of the inside of your fridge?! You’re taking this bravery thing to a new level πŸ˜‰

  2. Blue Castle says:

    Woohoo! That’s one great-looking fridge. Can you come to my house and help me with mine? It’s really bad. Maybe I’ll try to clean it – tomorrow. πŸ™‚

  3. Col @ gigablonde :: things to do in ny when you're [ alive ] says:

    WOW look how fast this fills up! I was “you’re first” and then fill in my info and I’m #14 … WOW, what a loyal readership here, I love it!
    My post is about a super-challenging week I had and how I’ve dealt with it. I try not to get sucked into the whirlwind of negativity, y’know?
    You must’ve been channeling me, by the way, because I was just staring into my fridge thinking, “I really should get some of this stuff I haven’t used since I moved here out, hmm?”
    xoxo
    Col

  4. De'Etta @ Choosing Joy says:

    What a hoot – labeling the shelves. This is just what I need to do. I have been trying to train all to put the produce on THIS shelf and the leftovers HERE and the drinks HERE….such a simple idea that I probably would never have come up with.
    Thanks.

  5. We are THAT family says:

    That’s a troubled area for me too. Just tonight I pulled out a chicken casserole from the 80’s… and then I just kept dumping stuff in the sink.
    It was liberating and disgusting.
    I’m going to try the little glass dish b/c the bacteria-they are many.
    And thanks for NOT posting pics of the before. I clicked on before pics the other day of someone’s fridge and it burned my retinas. Horrible sight.

  6. Marissa says:

    I hear you on the salad dressing. How do I have so many bottles when I only use one kind and my husband uses one other? Because my father-in-law likes blue cheese, my grandfather (who lives 700 miles away) likes French, and on and on.
    Love the glass dish for meat idea–will be implementing that immediately!

  7. Org Junkie says:

    Don’t think for one minute that basket in there fridge of yours is going unnoticed for one minute….woohoo!
    It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that one of my favorite jobs is discarding stuff from the fridge…LOVE it!!

  8. Katie says:

    THAT IS PURE GENIUS!!! I love it. LOVE IT! I’m always cleaning up spills and goo from thawing foods. What a wonderful idea! Thank you so much for sharing. My family may not get salmonila now…
    πŸ™‚

  9. Steph. says:

    Ooh! We have the same fridge and i’m all over that meat thawing tray idea. (Uh, I also have the 18 bottles of salad dressing issue too!)
    One thing I did that I liked a lot, although i think I may switch the shelf I used for it was to buy one of those lazy susan plastic rotating things and I put it on my bottom shelf for extra condiments (mustards, mayos, etc). So, it rotates around and saves a TON of space. I think I might move it to the top shelf though and make the meat defrosting place on the bottom as you have. Thanks for the ideas!

  10. TRS says:

    Hmmm. I was going to suggest a glass or enamel pan.
    I don’t cook much (single/ no kids) so I was getting annoyed at the clutter sandwich making supplies were creating in my very ordinary – older – rental house quality – not as nice as yours fridge. So when I spotted a super cute old enamel pan at a yard sale – I put it to work containing my deli bags of meat and cheese.
    Then I went out and bought a supply of the modern take on the old fashioned – glass refridgerator dishes now my fridge is very cute and everything stacks and nothing is stored in plastic. Yay me.

  11. Kristin says:

    I took a trip for 10 days and when I returned there was still food in there from before I left. I asked dear husband if he was planning on eating any of it, and he said “No Way!”
    Ummmm, so why is it still in the fridge??
    My fridge isn’t always spotless, far from it some days, but an X boyfriend of mine taught me how to toss fridge stuff. He did it daily (OCD perhaps?) I do it every few days. If I know I’m not going to eat it, out it goes. It took years for me to learn and now it is second nature.
    Great post Shannon!!
    Kristin
    http://www.ttelroc.blogspot.com
    I’m mopping floors this week. I took a bunch of pictures of it, too lol

  12. Liz C. says:

    Dang, Shannon, you’re seriously making me want to start a blog just to participate in WFMW.
    But since my husband’s head will explode if I start One More Project, I’ll just give a tip in your comments section.
    Two things help me keep the EPA out of my fridge: one, I’m willing to *not* save the leftovers if it’s just a dab of something; two, I bought all standardized storage containers, and they’re cheap, so I don’t have a heart attack if something does migrate to the back reaches of the fridge and hide to evolve into some new sentient life form back there.

  13. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    The size of american fridges always impresses/astounds me. They now market the large fridges here as “American fridges”.
    Your “after” photo of your fridge impresses me too πŸ™‚
    Happy wfmw!

  14. Just Pure Lovely says:

    Oh, wow, JanMary (commenter 2 up). And the sad thing is, many of us have 2. Or 2 freezers. Or 3. Gracious, whatever are we doing with all that food, now that I think of it that way?!

  15. Crystal says:

    Great job keeping it organized. Perhaps this week we were cleaning our fridges simultaneously b/c yesterday I posted before and after pics of my fridge after I had to scub it down after losing everything inside due to a power outage. First time since I moved in that my fridge looks that clean!!

  16. Carol G says:

    If the bar across the shelf in the door of our fridge would stop falling off my fridge might look better, as is you close the door and hear things falling into the fridge, and you know, whoever opens it next will have stuff falling on their toes…sigh.

  17. Sandy says:

    I need a new fridge, the kind with clear drawers like yours! I forget what is down there in the black hole of my fridge, so it usually ends up as mold! A new fridge……oh I must stop dreaming. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Sandy says:

    I need a new fridge, the kind with clear drawers like yours! I forget what is down there in the black hole of my fridge, so it usually ends up as mold! A new fridge……oh I must stop dreaming. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. Laane says:

    Great idea.
    We don’t have such a large fridge.
    Ours is about half of it.
    For 8 people.
    Now I wonder how we manage. LOL!

  20. Shalee says:

    I know I’m not supposed to argue with a host and all, but my fridge probably would have trumped yours… still can now that you’ve cleaned it. It’s a good thing I’ve got a move coming up. I’ll be cleaning that puppy from top to bottom AND side to side so that I can yet again try to emulate you.

  21. Lori says:

    I really like the idea of the “permanent dish” for thawing meat. I tend to be a bit more last minute so I end up doing it on the counter or in cold water (I know, I know…) but this is one tip I may steal. Actually, I have used the idea to some extent already….I have one drawer delegated for “lunch stuff” and in that drawer I have a plastic container (from sliced deli ham that I recycled) that I empty things like cheese sticks into. That way it stays in “the drawer” and doesn’t get eaten any ole time and most importantly…IT IS CONTAINED!
    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Blessings!
    Lori

  22. Kim says:

    Mine is up. Your fridge looks spectacular! I need to get motivated to clean out mine. It needs it badly. Ugh.

  23. Michelle says:

    My husband would flip if he opened up our refrig and found labels! But, with my anal, compulsive, organized behavior I would love it!
    Thanks for another great idea to add to my cleaning list! You always share such great ideas.
    Blessings,
    Michelle

  24. Miche says:

    What a great tip!! I have the same problem because we buy a lot of cheap bulk meat and once a year go in on a cow with some of the neighbors. Freezing is no problem, but always the thawing drives me crazy!! Thanks so much!!!

  25. VIckie says:

    Love it! Brave woman!! I have also started using those lazy susans that Rubbermaid makes. I have found it really helps my organization and the kids to put things back where they belong. Great post!

  26. mom2fur says:

    Wow, do I ever need to label my shelves like that. Maybe then, people here would put ketchup where it says ‘condiments,’ instead of someplace behind the milk. I’m sure you know what I mean when I say we go on a ketchup hunt every time we need it!
    I use one of the two lower drawers just for meat, so it’s totally separate from other things. I line that drawer (and my fruit/vegetable drawer) with a section of newspaper, which makes it easier to clean.

  27. megs says:

    I love the idea of keeping a glass dish in the fridge to thaw meet – thanks for sharing! You may have inspired me to go clean out my fridget right now, make that near future, or at some point in time yet to be determined! πŸ™‚

  28. Beverly Dixon says:

    Great idea to label the shelves. That is what I should try. My family always puts things in the wrong place, since I like for everything to be put back where it belongs.

  29. Maren says:

    I’m jealous of your labels! I tried that one time and DH laughed at me and said that he doesn’t read while in the fridge, he’s too hungry.

  30. Kaye says:

    Just wanted to thank you for doing WFMW. I have gotten so much traffic and so many new readers just due to exposure from your site via Mr. Linky. I love that I can come here and see what other people are up to and get acquainted with a lot of really good reading that I might otherwise have never found!

  31. SheilaG says:

    I just reorganized my freezer and it looks awesome! I even have a list there with all the stuff that’s in it so I’m not stuck rooting around at 5:30 to see if I do indeed have anything in there to heat up!
    I’ve got a post up today on how you can launch into a writing career from your blog. So come on over!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  32. Julie says:

    I use those tin pie plates from the frozen pies to thaw my meat in the fridge for the same reasons you do! The fridge looks great! I try to clean my out monthly before my big month-worth’s grocery trip (we live in the boonies).

  33. Tracey says:

    I notice you have a side by side refrigerator….do you like it…ours came with the house! I don’t like it…the freezer area is too small so we bought a chest freezer for the garage…when this craps out I’m depating on getting either a freezer ont he bottom or just a large refrigerator with no freezer. Ideas?

  34. Tracey says:

    Do you like your refrigerator…our side by side came with the house and the freezer area is too small so we bought a chest freezer for the garage. When this craps out I either want a freezer on the bottom or just a huge refrigerator with no freezer. What do you think?

  35. Vanessa says:

    Before I even came to read this morning, I was thinking of posting pics of my labelled fridge. Guess you beat me to it! It looks great.

  36. anne says:

    First timer here…this is a great idea…my fridge and freezer both need some organizing. Now for the motivation to do it? Ugh.

  37. Julie Stiles Mills says:

    Look at all that wasted space on the door of your fridge! I was just getting ready to purchase more of those hanging buckets when I drove past a fridge on the curb in my neighborhood. The doors were off to prevent anyone or anything from getting trapped inside . . . and low and behold! The buckets were still on the door.
    So I “trashpicked” them, washed them in the dishwasher and they are now hanging on my fridge door. NO vertical wasted space.

  38. Kelly says:

    If you want to give me a going away present you could do that to my fridge. πŸ™‚ It looks marvelous. I love the thawing idea. Marvelous, Mommy.

  39. Christine says:

    You have inspired me!! I soooo need to clean out the fridge…if the health dept would come after you I’m sure I’d be your cell mate! I love the glass dish idea for the meat. I have a separate drawer for it to go into, but I like the washable-ness of the separate dish idea! Thanks!

  40. Michelle says:

    I was just thinking last night as I opened the 15th bottle of dressing that will be in my fridge, that I have too many opened bottles! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  41. Janelle says:

    LOL! My husband labeled our refrigerator shelves about a year ago – salad dressings, hamburber/sandwich foods, misc. sauces, and “other”. It helps tremendously to keep stuff in one place and prevent 3 bottles of soy sauce in our fridge simultaneously. Yeah, that really happened once.

  42. Megan says:

    I’m TOTALLY using your idea! I have the same problem! P.S. This is my first WFMW & I forgot to add the subject in parenthesis the first time (entry #288)– remembered right as I hit enter! So I did it the correct way (#289)… but couldn’t figure out how to delete the prior. I’m SO SORRY!!!!! Thx for the fridge tip~*
    -Meg

  43. Kara says:

    Looks great! Hubby usually ends up with the fridge cleaning and he does a great job I must add. great tip for fresh or thawing meat, I always worry about where to put it.

  44. Toni says:

    I love the glass dish idea! I too worry about meat bacteria because I know I don’t clean out the fridge nearly so often as I should. One thing that does help me is generally keeping things in the same place. Eggs always go on the top right. Milk – bottom left. As soon as I start shoving items in willy-nilly the fridge will be out of control within the week. So to that point, I think the labels are a great idea too. πŸ™‚

  45. chrissy says:

    One of my greatest pet peeves in the world is trying to use Hershey’s syrup that’s been refrigerated. I keep mine in the pantry. I know it says to refrigerate it on the bottle, but I’ve been doing it that way for 32 years, and never had a problem. Except once when a houseguest of mine was totally skeeved out and insisted that I was wrong to keep it room temperature. To each his own.

  46. Chrissy Hooker says:

    It won’t let me leave a comment on the Favorite things giveaway!!! HELP! πŸ™‚
    OMGosh! What a wonderful giveaway!! My favorite thing about summer is lazy days at the pool with my three boys! Good Luck everyone, and thanks for the chance to win!

  47. Karina says:

    Hey! I have exactly the same model as you, but yours looks nicer and neater (I keep way too much stuff, um, food…). What I do like to do though, is label everything with masking tape and a Sharpie, like “beans 2-10-8”, so I have a fair idea if something has been there for too long or if I can still use it. Granted, I do try to clean and toss right before I go to the grocery store, to make space for new veggies, but some leftovers still get to stay for longer than that (!). Oh, and the pan idea is great, works like a charm (been using it for quite a long time too, after a couple of accidents involving leakage from a bag, yuck!).

  48. AngieD says:

    Hi. We must have some sort of ESP thing going here, because just this past weekend, I also cleaned out my fridge and threw out at least 18 bottles of salad dressing. It was a big, big, big, big job. I was scared (and thus, no “before” picture), but I took a great shot of my “after” fridge. You can almost see the cheese smiling. Anyway, I draw the line at labeling. That’s over-the-top.

  49. AngieD says:

    Hi. We must have some sort of ESP thing going here, because just this past weekend, I also cleaned out my fridge and threw out at least 18 bottles of salad dressing. It was a big, big, big, big job. I was scared (and thus, no “before” picture), but I took a great shot of my “after” fridge. You can almost see the cheese smiling. Anyway, I draw the line at labeling. That’s over-the-top.

  50. AngieD says:

    Hi. We must have some sort of ESP thing going here, because just this past weekend, I also cleaned out my fridge and threw out at least 18 bottles of salad dressing. It was a big, big, big, big job. I was scared (and thus, no “before” picture), but I took a great shot of my “after” fridge. You can almost see the cheese smiling. Anyway, I draw the line at labeling. That’s over-the-top.

  51. Michelle says:

    I thought I’d share my tip on fridge management. Instead of storing fruit and vege in the basket things, store any bottles of sauce, salad dressing etc in there. Then store your green groceries on the shelf above (I use tupperware Fridgesmart containers).
    In my latest fridge my basket things were on a slide out tray so I just took out the baskets (they are stored in the roof in case I ever want to use them…but after 6 years of marriage and not using them once…) and have a slide out tray – it actually looks like the tray was put there for the purpose I use it for!)

  52. Danielle K says:

    I recently cleaned my fridge top to bottom as well and I was so disgusted that I put place mats on the shelves so there would be less mess to clean. My husband thinks I am a lunatic, but so far, so good.

  53. Gego says:

    Amazing! I think God wants me to turn my refrigerator into Science experiments. I now require glasses to check dates, forget to label what was put in there when, and only notice when some new cure for for disease begins growing on the items placed there.
    As far as the freezer is concerned, I usually find treasures from 10 years ago, diligently thaw them in hopes that they are still edible, and throw them in the trash because sometimes the smell is really funky. Well, it was worth a try.
    Retirement is WONDERFUL! Who cares any more! When what is thawed no longer is presentable on a plate, WAHOOOOO, I go out to the local cafeteria.
    You are more than welcome to tackle my kitchen and freezer any time you choose. Any items still “in date” are yours for the taking. Please bring your label making machine.
    Love your blog, you and yours, Gego

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