1. Schedule 2 hours into your calendar of undivided attention to focus solely on refrigerator organizing.
2. Prepare the following:
garbage bag, recycling bin and compost bucket
warm soapy water, wash cloth and towel
post-it notes and sharpie marker
label maker or water proof labels
and clear a nearby counter top and table to spread refrigerator contents out onto.
3. Ask yourself if this is the regular amount of groceries you usually keep on hand and consider if anything is missing. Remember this later when assigning homes to items and keep a space, for example, for 2 egg cartons, if that's what you usually have on hand.
4. Haul everything out and purge as you go. Spread items across the table and counter tops, checking expiry dates and tossing any items you'll no longer use.
5. Wash down the shelves and drawers with warm soapy water and wipe dry.
6. Sort all the items into the following categories and make temporary post-it note labels for each grouping. (Omit any that do not apply and add any that are special to you).
condiments, dressings & spreads
nuts and seeds
kids snacks or any special items for guests, housemates, or specific dietary restrictions
***everything else*** (I truly, and perhaps surprisingly, suggest leaving one shelf without a label and this is where "everything else" belongs that doesn't fit into a category listed above).
7. Assign a home by placing the post-it notes in the fridge on the appropriate shelves and drawers. (Designing the organized space with temporary post-it notes makes it easy to switch categories and places until you find the perfect fit.) Start with the categories that have the biggest limitations such as beverages that need the tallest shelf space, and veggies that need a crisper bin to stay fresh. Combine any categories that make sense to you and to the fridge space available, such as "meat & cheese". Split up categories for the similar reason of large quantities and limited drawer or shelf space such as "veggies" and "salad and fresh herbs".
8. Place food items back into the refrigerator, making any necessary adjustments to account for size and quantity of categories. Adjust any shelf or drawer heights so that your items fit and can be taken in and out with ease.
9. Label the categories on the front center of each shelf or drawer, or on each side if splitting a bin or shelf. (I prefer using an actual label maker, but store bought glossy labels or masking tape and marker work just fine. Choose something that will tolerate a spill or wipedown.)
10. Give your family or nanny and housekeeper a quick tour of the new changes so everyone will be on board with upkeep.
Finally - congratulate yourself for a job well done!
A step-by-step organizing guide from Guelph and area's Professional Home Organizer.
Image Sourced from GE Appliances