Fridge space is a precious commodity. Feeding a family requires every inch of free space on your refrigerator shelves and freezer drawers. But as life keeps you busy, you may return from a trip to the store and suddenly find it difficult to accommodate new groceries. On other days, you might find yourself reaching into the depths of your refrigerator for a container of yogurt only to find that it expired weeks ago. If re-stocking your fridge always feels like a real-life game of Tetris and you feel like you’re throwing away more food than you’re consuming, it’s time to start organizing.

However, it’s vital to watch for warning signs that your refrigerator is due for an upgrade. If your food is spoiling days before its expiration date or your fridge’s motor sounds like it’s running at top speed, it may be time for a new refrigerator from an appliance store like Goedeker’s (www.goedekers.com). Not only will upgrading your appliances keep your perishables fresh for a longer time, but you can prioritize purchasing a more spacious refrigerator. Once you set your new fridge up and it’s ready to go, keep these storage-maximizing tips in mind as you fill it up with food.

Use clear, reusable storage bins

Many packaged food items come in bulky cardboard boxes or space-eating plastic containers. Before placing your food in your fridge, packaging and all, take items out of their original containers. If you’d still like to keep your refrigerator organized instead of allowing stray fruits or yogurts to roll around freely, invest in clear storage bins to place in your fridge. You can group food items however you please, and clear containers also allow you to see everything inside your refrigerator at a glance.

Label and date all items

When you’re putting groceries away or packaging leftovers in Tupperware, label, and date every container. Not only will this method allow you to keep your food organized, but it’ll make it easier to tell when it’s time to throw your leftover spaghetti away. Take note of the foods that frequently get pushed to the back of the fridge and go to waste. By eliminating those items from your grocery list or reducing the amount you purchase, you’ll be able to avoid food waste and buy only what you can consume.

Hang items up when you can

Homeowners often forget that their fridge doesn’t just have horizontal space. Refrigerators have vertical space as well, but it takes a little bit of creativity to take advantage of it. Try affixing strips of strong magnets to the ceiling of your fridge to suspend bottles with metal caps above your shelves. If you have wire shelving, use binder clips to keep bags of vegetables or cheese upright. Install a few hooks to your fridge ceiling or the underside of shelves to hang bags of fruits for easy access. Making good use of your refrigerator’s vertical space frees up more room horizontally for the goods that can’t be hung up or suspended.

Create an “Eat me first” bin

After a hearty meal that leaves you with leftovers, you may find that the containers that you filled are quickly pushed into the depths of your fridge, where they sit forgotten for weeks. Or maybe, you’ve let one too many apples rot in your fruit drawer. Whatever the reason, if you find your food going to waste all too often, it may be time for an “eat me first” bin. Take a cursory glance through your refrigerator regularly and identify items that are about to expire. Place those items in the “eat first” bin and keep the container at the forefront of your fridge, so you and your family members can easily see and reach for those items before newer, fresher goods.

Keep your fridge clean

Keep your fridge clean

There’s nothing worse than opening up a door and seeing clutter, regardless of whether it’s in your bedroom closet or your refrigerator. Not only does seeing mess elevate your stress levels, but it also means you’re missing out on vital free fridge space. Though you may be organized, it’s still essential to deep clean your refrigerator and freezer now and then. Toss items that have long expired or have freezer burn, and scrub away any spills or fluids that have leaked from containers. A clean fridge will keep you happy and motivated to remain organized.

The bottom line

If your cluttered refrigerator is overwhelming you, it’s time for a fresh start. Empty your fridge of every food item and begin working out a system of organization that works for you and your family. With time and effort, you can cultivate a happy fridge that reduces your food waste and keeps your family healthy.

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