Two professional organisers have offered their simple guide to fridge organisation, including the correct order to arrange ingredients and the storage products they buy to maximise space in an instant.
Sister-in-laws Adriana Isai, 33, and Ariana Isai, 28, who launched their home organisation business A Tidy Life in 2020, said one of the common mistakes people make that leads to food wastage is not storing ingredients correctly in the fridge.
‘Perishables on the side door being the biggest culprit,’ the pair, from Melbourne, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Anything stored in the doors have to be able to withstand the change in temperatures coming from the constant opening and closing of the fridge doors.’
For convenience, the door should be reserved for everyday items like condiments, juices, soft drinks, water and milk so position them where you can grab them quickly to minimise door opening time.
Professional organisers and sister-in-laws Ariana, 28, (left) and Adriana, 33 (right) have offered their simple guide to fridge organisation, including the correct order to arrange ingredients and the storage products they swear by for maximising space
The pair said some of the common mistakes people make is storing perishables on the side door, and not having designated area for food items
To maximise space, the pair suggested storing good in glass containers, rearranging products in clear tubs and use a lazy Susan for all your condiments
The best places to store food in the fridge
DOORS: Reserve this space for your condiments, juices, soft drinks, and water
Milk can go in the door for convenience or stored in a colder part of the fridge
TOP SHELF: Leftovers, ready to eat foods such as yoghurts and cheese
MIDDLE SHELF: Milks, juices, eggs – the perishable, temperature sensitive ingredients you’d normally store in the fridge doors
LOWER SHELVES: Raw meat – separate from other items to avoid cross-contamination
DRAWERS: Fruits and Veggies in their separate compartments
Leftover meals or ready-to-eat foods such as yoghurt, cheese, deli meats should go on the top shelf, while eggs, perishables and temperature sensitive ingredients you normally keep in the doors should be stored on the middle shelf.
Keeping raw meat separate from other items on the bottom shelf, which is the coldest part of the fridge, minimises the risk of cross-contamination.
While fruits and vegetables should be stored in their separate compartments.
‘Storing them together is a big no-no,’ the pair explained.
‘Certain fruits release their own gases that speed up the ripening. And don’t keep your fruits or vegetables in the plastic bags you brought them home in. Net bags are great for allowing airflow in and gases out.’
To prevent food spoilage, the mums suggested organising your items based on categories to cut down food wastage.
‘You’ll know exactly what you have and how much you have of it when things are categorised,’ they said.
‘Have all your like items stored in containers for easy access so when you’re cooking, you won’t need to filter through the fridge to find that one ingredient while your pots are boiling on the stove.
‘Having an organised fridge will put you one step ahead and help you prepare your evening meals. Once you have everything in their designated sections, you cut out the searching time and frustration of trying to find that long lost jar of pesto.’
Revealed: The top tips for organising a fridge
Don’t hoard: If you’ve had that same jar in your fridge for over six months that still hasn’t been opened – toss it.
Do a weekly reset: Aim to wipe down shelves, throw out expired food or rotate your food (first in, first out) after every weekly shop. Aim to do a fridge clean once a month so you know everything is fresh and clean.
Fridge organisation starts with an empty fridge: If you want to start organising your fridge, pull everything out and have your bin ready.
Have a designated area for your food items: Having your like-items categorised and in areas they belong, not only will they last longer but it will make daily use of the fridge easier when you know exactly where and what you’re reaching for.
When allocating areas, find commonalities between each of your items: Try grouping by meals so yoghurts, jam, milk and other breakfast foods together; or condiments, cheese, leftovers and other lunch foods together. Or you could store by category: cheese and yoghurts together, or spreads and dips together.
Ensure your fridge is well ventilated: An overcrowded fridge can cause your air vents to become blocked which can lead to a drop in the air flow. This will cause moisture and temperature issues within the fridge leading to improper cooling of your delicate items so try and aim for a fridge that’s full but not overcrowded.
To prevent food spoilage, the pair suggested organising your items based on categories (picture of Adriana rearranging the fridge)
Lazy Susan is great for keeping jars and condiments together so you’re not rummaging through the fridge trying to find the item you need
To maximise space in the fridge, they suggested storing food in glass containers
The products to use for maximising space
– Lazy Susan or turntable for condiments, jars and bottles
– Glass containers for fresh meat, leftovers and other ingredients
– Clear tubs and buckets
To maximise space in the fridge, they suggested storing food in glass containers because it’s ‘safer, durable and a lot more sanitary.
‘It not only makes them look good, but gives you a more uniformed, tidy and organised fridge,’ they said.
The pair said a lazy Susan is the perfect storage solution for neatly organising condiments, jars and bottles in the fridge.
‘We also love a lazy Susan in our fridges! They’re so great to quickly see everything you’ve got and grab what you need, without having to shuffle and slide items around the fridge – which can scratch the shelving,’ they said.
Shoppers can find cheap turntables and lazy Susan from budget stores like Kmart from as little as $7.
The pair suggested using budget-friendly storage buckets and containers from Big W and Kmart to keep products neatly organised in the fridge.
‘They have a variety of sizes and shapes – square or rectangle, grips on the bottom to avoid them sliding around your fridge and handles for easier access to your items.
‘They’re great for meal times as you can remove an entire bucket and easily have everything you need at once. If you’ve sorted your fridge by kind, you’ll ideally have a bucket for each meal time.’
Clear tubs are great for neatly organising items in the fridge – like yoghurt poaches, drinks, condiments and even for separating fruits and vegetables the drawers
By having a well-organised home, the sister-in-laws said your life will run a lot better
The dos and don’ts of fruits and vegetables
X Cutting or preparing fruits or vegetables in advance as this usually leads to a quicker deterioration with your produce and more wastage
✓ Keep fruits and vegetables organised and categorised in your fridge ready to cut it when you need it
X Storing fruits and vegetables together will lead to your vegetables perishing a lot sooner than you would have liked. This is due to certain fruits producing a type of gas called ethylene which speeds up the ripening process
✓ Keep them in separate compartments and adjust the temperatures according to your fruits and vegetables
By having a well-organised home, the pair said your life will run a lot better.
‘We find that organisation is so much more than things looking good, even though that is one of our favourite things,’ they said.
‘It’s about having structure and a system going in our lives – personally we find that when there’s an organised and tidy home, there’s an organised and tidy life.’
Their tips come just weeks after Better Homes and Garden star Ed Halmagyi shared his top tips for anyone considering a fridge refresh.
‘Clear everything out and bin anything that looks past its best day. Try and create some space between items to allow your refrigerator to perform at its best,’ the Mitsubishi Electric Australia ambassador said.
‘Storing fruits and vegetables in plastic wrap may help to keep them even fresher for longer. Clean glass shelves and move or fold back, if possible, to make a variety of heights.
‘Finally, create a system by allocating zones on each shelf for like items and aim to stick to it. The easier things are to find, the less wastage you should experience.’