The One Mistake You're Making When Organizing Your Refrigerator

Your outdated countertops aren't the only item in the kitchen that need a makeover.

Fridge Door
Photo: Andersen Ross/Getty Images

If you find yourself staring at an overflow of fruits, vegetables, and week-old meatloaf in your refrigerator, it may be time to consider a cold storage overhaul. While weekly grocery trips are necessary to keep your family's favorite foods in stock, they are equally your fridge's arch nemesis, filling it to the brim with new provisions while already-purchased food gets pushed to the back.

The chilled chaos eventually reaches its threshold every couple of months, which prompts you to throw out a few items here and there. But without performing a proper refrigerator revamp, you'll be stuck on the same loop for years.

"When people try to organize their fridges, they often don't take everything out of the shelves and drawers," says organizing expert Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants. "People think that they'll be able look at everything and assess the best plan of action by leaving everything in its current position. General laziness allows us to fall into that trap."

Reich, who works with nutritionist Lara Metz on fridge face-lifts, from both organization and nutritional perspectives, says the ultimate goal of a cold storage makeover is simple: "You want to clear out any spoiled food and set up the remaining items in a way that puts the most often-used categories front and center."

After you've tossed the expired items in the trash and determined what you want to keep, place standard food categories, like eggs, milk, and cheese, together in their respective spots. Bonus points if you separate leftovers and other snacks with matching, stackable containers.

Most importantly, Reich urges her clients to establish a designated clean-out day, like Sunday, to avoid the disorganization cycle from recurring. You'll know where to find us this weekend.

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