7 ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Fridge

No more forgotten and abandoned produce.

You may have noticed an increase in ADHD diagnoses lately. It’s not just something in the air—a rising awareness of the myriad ways this neurological disorder presents in both adults and children is helping more people get help than ever before. According to CHADD (Children and Adults With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), ADHD affects “11 percent of school-age children,” and continues into adulthood in over 75 percent of cases, although those numbers are probably modest.  Researchers still haven’t pinned down a single underlying cause, but it’s likely that genetics play a big part in a person’s propensity to have ADHD. Whatever the reason, though, the symptoms of ADHD mostly have to do with impaired executive function, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (among others). That first part, impaired executive function, can make staying organized at home particularly difficult.


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Keep reading for more on how staying organized can be more challenging with ADHD, and how starting small with ADHD-friendly methods of organizing in one area of the home—in this case, the fridge—can make a big difference.

How ADHD Affects Organization Skills

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University describes executive function as “the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” Basically, it’s the CEO of your brain, the part in charge of making sure you remember what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it.

When your executive function is out to lunch it has very real, sometimes dangerous consequences. You may get to the kitchen and forget why you’re there, or lose your wallet and keys at the gas station and lock yourself out of your house. You could leave your phone in a dressing room at the mall and forget about important meetings until after they’re over. Or, you could show up to an event a full year late.

These are all examples taken from my real life, and, coupled with other symptoms, like time-blindness and increased impulsivity, they may illuminate why ADHD-ers, like myself, are constantly trying to find hacks to help us lessen the mental load and stay organized. Keeping well-fed and staying on top of daily meal planning is one particular aspect of adulting that is infinitely harder when your frontal lobe isn’t doing what it should to keep you on track.

“Healthy eating takes planning, good time management, and some impulse control, all things that people with ADHD struggle with,” says Dr. Ari Tuckman, a psychologist based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “To cook something healthy now requires that you make it to the store. Also, you need to have the time to make something, so one of the consequences of spending too long at work or just running late is that there is less time to cook, even if you do have the right ingredients on hand. If this happens too many days in a row, then those ingredients may no longer be good and need to be thrown away.”

This is why I was downright relieved when I saw a TikTok by KC Davis, author and host of the Struggle Care podcast, suggesting people with ADHD reorganize our fridges to make it easier to stay organized—and actually eat the groceries we buy.

“First change, condiments are going in this drawer here,” she says in the video, calling the produce drawer “where things go to die and rot.” As someone who has never understood how people make crisper drawers work for them, I felt seen. I then proceeded to fall down a rabbit hole of other genius fridge organization hacks by ADHD creators. I’ve compiled them below and added in a few of my own kitchen hacks, too. 

ADHD Fridge Organization Ideas

1. Put your shopping list right on the fridge. 

For me, this has been a major game-changer. I got a cheap magnetic dry-erase board, stuck magnets to the back, and made myself a place to update my shopping list in real time. I'd actually been doing this for a while before I saw that Shilane (@My.Audhd.Life) posted a TikTok about it, and I can wholeheartedly endorse this method. I no longer have to remember what I need to buy or, worse, try to track it in an app sometime after I'm done in the kitchen. ADHD-ers like me can struggle a lot with short-term memory; writing an item the moment it runs out removes a million little items from my "try-to-remember-it" list. Then, when I have to go shopping, I just look at the dry-erase board. Done. This ensures I get what I actually need and lowers some of the ADHD tax I incur from impulsively buying items I already have (or truly don’t need) in my kitchen.

2. Keep your leftovers on the top shelf.

Whoever first said "out of sight, out of mind" might have had ADHD, because we forget things the instant they leave our view. I can’t stress enough how things cease to exist for folks with ADHD unless we can see them. Which is why putting your leftovers in a single, centralized spot in your immediate line of vision is extremely helpful. As YouTuber Candice Hutchings (@EdgyVeg) says in her fridge tour TikTok, “That’s how I know [leftovers are] there and I remember to use [them].” Keeping leftovers in one spot also means you don't have to look for a spot to put them, which personally lessens my levels of decision fatigue. For extra help remembering what your leftovers are, store them in clear plastic containers.  

3. Keep your condiments in the crisper drawer and put your veggies in the door. 

I know this sounds radical, but hear me out. Do you really need to see your hot sauce and mustard when you open your fridge? I promise you, when you want mayo or Sriracha, you’ll find it just fine. Lettuce and cucumbers, on the other hand? Those will sit in your crisper drawer, forlorn and forgotten, getting less crisp by the day. For ADHD-ers, seeing the lettuce (or other quickly perishable items) instantly upon opening the fridge means we are far less likely to let them languish until it’s too late. Less waste, healthier meals, cleaner fridge—there are basically no downsides to this switch. If putting greens on the door like KC Davis (@domesticblisters) does in this TikTok feels too wild, maybe start by moving them to the front of the middle shelf, also in your direct line of vision.

4. Put paper towels in with your greens.

I’ve been doing this for a while now and it has saved my spinach on more than one occasion. Greens are a kind of aspirational purchase, and they can be a bit of a gamble. Some days, I feel able to make Instagrammable salads, and other days, it’s all I can do to make scrambled eggs and toast. So the first thing I do with any kind of leafy vegetable is to put them in a bag with paper towels. The paper towel soaks up any extra moisture and keeps those leaves fresh for much longer, thus raising the chance that I’ll use my produce before it rots. For greens that are prepackaged in boxes, put the towel on the top and store them upside down. 

5. Also, frozen veggies are just as good as fresh. 

Offhand, this may not seem like an organizational strategy. Think of it this way, though: If you don’t clutter up your refrigerator space with perishable produce, you have more room for hardier things. Plus, when you’re cooking with something like peas, broccoli, or spinach, it truly doesn’t matter if the item started out in your freezer or your fridge. People with ADHD struggle mightily with time-management and often end up grabbing something quickly, on the way to be late to some appointment. A frozen, ready-to-heat meal or a steam-in-the-bag vegetable has plenty of nutrients and is easier to make quickly. It also saves you the guilt of tossing a stinky bag of moldy vegetables right in the garbage because you never got around to cooking it. 

6. Label your food.

This is another one from Candice Hutchings of The Edgy Veg, although I have to say I’m not at this organizational level yet. In this YouTube video, Hutchings shows how she labels all of her containers and the specific areas of her refrigerator. For example, she's labeled a shelf designated for jams and spreads, and another designated for milks. This way, you know exactly where to go looking for different items, and where to put new groceries when you get them. Not to mention, this makes it easier to take inventory and see if you actually need to replace that jar of pickles, instead of it just hiding in a random spot in the back of the fridge.

7. Try a grocery delivery service if you can.

“Grocery delivery services can be more expensive, but they’re probably less expensive than take-out,” says Dr. Tuckman, “So, consider using delivery at least for the basics.” Grocery delivery also helps with the impulse to buy a whole pile of strawberries just because they look really good, only to get home and realize you actually aren’t going to use them. Oops, there goes your money. I’ve found that grocery delivery, while pricier in some ways, has saved me from wasting my own cash on impulse purchases. Let’s be honest: I’m never going to use those fancy mushrooms. These services are also helpful for the (many) days when my time mismanagement means I don’t have time to get to the store.

In Conclusion

Living with ADHD comes with its challenges and joys. We tend to be a quirky bunch, for better and for worse. Our propensity for forgetting things outside the moment tends to allow us to be fully present. Of course, that may mean we stumble off the traditional path and wind up in a mess of trouble (or just a mess of food gone bad in our fridges). But it also means we have strange and wonderful ideas for how to exist in the world.

It’s tempting to see our quirkiness as failure—especially when that’s the message we get all day, every day from others around us who wonder why we’re always late or why we need to fidget in meetings. It isn't a failure, though; it’s a difference. Sure, that means we may need a little extra help with our fridges and closets. But, there's no right or wrong way to stay organized, and if you need to take a different way to get you there, that's quite alright.

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