Should milk go in the side door? What foods actually belong in the crisper? And what are you supposed to do with the potpourri of condiment bottles, tubes and jars encroaching on everything else stored within the cool confines of your refrigerator? Even with all those questions buzzing in your head, organizing your refrigerator doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Your ultimate goal is to strategically place foods in an effort to prolong their shelf life. In addition, you want to efficiently plan your space and make items you use often easily accessible.
Fruits and Veggie Storage
Refrigerators typically come with a bin marked as a "crisper" or with a "low humidity" label. This bin is ideal for fruits, which should be stored in a loosely tied plastic bag. The other bin is typically marked as "high humidity" and is best for vegetables, since this location is the most moist. Vegetables should also be stored in a loosely tied plastic bag.
Keep Butter in the Door
Many refrigerators also come with a small compartment on the door, typically the warmest part of your refrigerator, that's sometimes labeled "dairy." This is where you should keep your butter and any other soft cheeses or dairy products that don't require super-cold temperatures.
Other Foods to Place in the Door
Because the door is the warmest part of your refrigerator, you should only store items that don't require very cold temperatures here. That includes foods high in vinegar, salt or other preservatives, not limited to condiments, orange juice, nut oils, pickles, salsa and salad dressings.
Storing Milk and Eggs
The best place for milk and eggs — and other items susceptible to temperature fluctuation, such as yogurt and sour cream — is toward the back on either the middle or top shelf. These areas have a more stabilized temperature than, say, your refrigerator door. For your eggs' safety and longevity, keep them in their original container.
Keep Raw Meats on the Bottom
The bottom shelf is typically the coldest place in your refrigerator, making it an ideal location for raw meats. Storing them on the bottom instead of the middle or top shelf will also prevent juices from contaminating other foods should your meats leak. It also makes for easier cleanup.
Use Storage Containers
Your refrigerator comes with a few bins already, including several crispers, but you can always add bins or baskets to create a more organized space. For example, keep all your leftovers in one basket and cheeses or meats in another. A Lazy Susan comes in handy for condiments or spreads that are otherwise not easily accessible.
Wine bottles are tricky because they're often too tall to place upright, but storing them on their side leads to rolling around. Wine holders and organizers are available in all shapes and sizes and make for a more organized refrigerator. You can also store wine bottles, or other beverages, in their own basket.
After you've given everything its place, label accordingly. Put labels on any baskets or organizational containers you place in your refrigerator. Also label doors, bins and individual jars, if necessary. It's easy to forget where something goes or to mindlessly put it back in the fridge if you don't have that visual reminder.