How to Organize Your Fridge - Clean Eating Magazine

Organize Your Fridge Like a Pro

When deciding what to place where in the fridge, there are two main issues to consider: functionality and food safety. Chef David Barry, associate professor of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, shares his expert guidelines for organizing your fridge to incorporate the best of both elements.
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FACT: You're more likely to succeed with your clean eating goals when your fridge is clean and organized.

  1.  Put more temperature-stable items, such as dressings, juices and condiments, in door compartments. The temperature in this zone fluctuates every time you open and shut the door, so temperature-sensitive ingredients like eggs shouldn’t be stored here. Make sure to store butter in the butter compartment, as the door of this compartment is designed to protect oils and fats from picking up other aromas within the fridge.
  2. Keep your leftovers, snacks and other ready-to-eat foods on the upper shelves of your fridge. Because you may not cook these items before eating, you don’t want to keep them on a lower shelf and risk having something else leak onto them.
  3. Have a look inside your fridge and locate the air vent, usually at the back wall of the fridge. This is the coldest spot in your fridge, so keep your dairy and fish towards the back of this shelf.
  4. Raw proteins (chicken, beef, eggs, etc.) should be kept on the lowest shelf to avoid leakage onto other foods. Most fridges will have this shelf sealed so that there is limited risk of leakage into the crisper. If your shelf doesn’t have a seal, make sure to put your proteins in a bowl or container.
  5. Keep your vegetables in the crisper either out of bags or loosely covered, as produce kept tightly in bags will spoil faster. If you have two crispers that are stacked, keep the produce that will be cooked in the upper crisper, and the produce that will be eaten raw in the lower crisper (in case of an accidental leak from food on the shelves above, cooking those veggies will kill off harmful bacteria).
perfectly organized fridge

Illustration by Barb DiPietro

A. The Benefits of Bins

Don’t have a lot of time to cook during the week? Julie Morgenstern urges you to “be your own sous chef” by assembling and prepping ingredients for meals on the weekend and placing the prepared ingredients for each meal into individual bins labeled for the day of the week they’ll be used. When you're ready to cook, simply pull the appropriate bin out of the fridge and you have all your ingredients ready to go. Bins and lazy Susans can also be used to group similar items such as cheeses, leftovers or lunch meats. Morgenstern says bins work well in the fridge to add order, structure and visibility to things that don’t stand up on their own.

B. Snack Well

Always keep portion controlled snacks handy so that you can just grab and go, recommends Peter Walsh. That way when you or your children open the fridge, you have the appropriate healthy snack waiting.