How to organize your fridge for maximum freshness

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I love to organize — and reorganize and organize again. I actually just love to clean (and I know I am not the only person who wipes the water out of the sink…). My mom does, too.

But whether you’re a clean freak or not, being a little more organized can help you improve efficiency around the house! And if you haven’t reorganized your fridge in a while, it’s probably time!

According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, carefully stocking your fridge can not only help you reduce food waste, but it can also help you avoid foodborne illness.

Read more: 4 food safety mistakes to avoid at home

How to organize your fridge for maximum freshness

Different areas of the fridge are actually different temperatures. For example, the door bins and upper shelves tend to be warmer than the bottom shelves and drawers in the middle.

So considering the various temperatures throughout the fridge, here’s a look at where to put everything in order to guarantee maximum freshness. And keep in mind, although your fridge may have a different layout, you can still use these general guidelines to better organize everything and keep it all fresh.


The compartments and shelves in the door tend to get warmer than other areas of the fridge. So reserve this space for things that can stand the warmer conditions:

  • Butter
  • Condiments
  • Juice
  • Cooking oils
  • Soda
  • Water 

Meat/deli bin

First of all, the deli/meat bin is this one.

how to organize refrigerator maximum freshness

If you have the option to adjust the temperature, keep it cooler for cured meats. Here are some other foods you should store in this drawer:

  • Bacon  
  • Cheeses
  • Deli meats
  • Hot dogs

Crisper drawers

This is where your produces goes. If you can adjust the humidity, high is ideal for vegetables, while low is better for fruits (as well as some veggies with thin skins).

If you don’t have the option to adjust the humidity, just separate the two groups of foods as if you did.

Low-humidity drawer

  • Apples
  • Avocados (once ripe)
  • Grapes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peaches, Pears, Plums, Nectarines (once ripe)
  • Peppers
  • Melon (once ripe)
  • Summer squash

High-humidity drawer

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Onions
  • Leafy Greens

Read more: 29 ways to keep your fresh produce fresher for longer

Lower shelf

This is typically the coldest part of the fridge, so you want to use this space for foods that are more susceptible to developing harmful bacteria if they get too warm. A few examples:

  • Eggs (in their original carton)
  • Milk
  • Raw fish, meat and poultry (just make sure these don’t drip any juices onto other foods, as it could contaminate them with harmful bacteria; you can store them in bags or on trays)

Upper shelf

This is the warmest part of the fridge — too warm for milk and eggs. Here’s what to keep on this shelf:

  • Jam & Jelly  
  • Leftovers (separate into small containers so they cool faster and keep them toward the front so you don’t forget!) 
  • Peanut butter
  • Snacks (like hummus and fruit cups)
  • Yogurt

What does NOT belong in the fridge

While some foods should be kept cold for maximum freshness and to avoid spoiling, there are other foods that don’t belong in the fridge at all:

  • Bananas
  • Bread (freezer is okay)
  • Coffee
  • Garlic
  • Onions (keep away from potatoes)
  • Potatoes (keep away from onions)
  • Tomatoes 

For more details, check out the full report from Consumer Reports.

Learn more: Never put these foods in the freezer

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