Kitchen Tips

How to organise your fridge in 10 steps

When you open your fridge what do you see? Lots of leftovers and food that has passed its use-by date? It’s time for a change. Here’s how to organise your fridge in 10 steps.

Make life easier for yourself and your family by finding food faster and avoid items rotting at the back of your fridge. You'll eat fresher, healthier food as a result.

1. Have plenty of storage

Make sure you have plenty of plastic storage containers in which to store food. You'll then avoid having to wade through piles of squashed plastic bags, and will see clearly where your food is. It's best to keep fresh meat, poultry and seafood in its original wrapping as rewrapping increases the chances of exposing food to bacteria. Put any dripping meat on a plate to contain spills.

2. Figure out what goes where

If your fridge often gets out of order, label each shelf so you know where your food belongs. Food will then be returned to the right place, not lost somewhere in the depths of your fridge. You'll also have a clearer idea of what foods you are running out of and need to stock up on.

3. Adjust the shelf heights to fit

Make your fridge work for you. If you need to move around the shelf heights to suit your food, do so. That way you'll use the space in your fridge efficiently, avoiding treasured space being left unused.

4. Create easy access for often-used items

Keep items that you use on a daily basis on a shelf at a height that is easy to reach. Items that tend to be on the heavy side, and that are used less frequently can be stored in the lower part of your fridge. Goods that are light can be kept on the upper shelves.

5. Keep like with like

Order food by food group. Keep nuts and seeds (in containers) together. Arrange spreads such as almond butter, honey and jam together. Keep meats, chicken and fish on the lower level so any drips won't contaminate other food. Cheese should be kept in the dairy compartments. Products with long shelf life such as sauces, keep on inside of door. For fresh produce, store like with like, such as apples with apples, as produce releases different types of gas that cause deterioration in other fruit/veges.

6. ‘Healthify’ its contents

Get rid of any sugary or energy drinks. They aren't great for your diet, and just think of the space you'll have once they're gone.

7. Be diligent with dates

Clearly mark when you bought food and opened it, marking with each date; that way you'll know when food is ready to throw out or if is still edible. Keep the oldest items at the front and the newer foods at the back.

8. Use your drawers

Fruit and vegetable drawers allow you to control the level of cool air for your produce. Fruit should be at a lower humidity than vegetables.

9. Ensure the temperature is correct

Check the fridge's temperature is at an adequate level and store food items in the correct zones. The ideal temperature for a fridge is 3°C (or between 2-4°C). It's a good idea to allow food to get to room temperature before putting it into the fridge – this not only maintains the fridge's temperature but it ensures there isn't too much condensation caused by hot food cooling down. Keeping the fridge cool is crucial for avoiding harmful bacteria forming on food.

10. Give your fridge regular checks

Once a week, give your fridge and freezer a clean, wiping up any spills, removing any rotting or expired food. Clean and check that the doors are sealed properly – try putting a piece of paper in the seal and closing the door – the door should hold the paper in place.