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Refrigerator Refresh: 5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Fridge

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I recently decided I needed to pull my weight when it comes to cooking weeknight dinners (more on that in a future post). My first step was to spend a few hours refreshing our fridge so the prospect of meal prep and cooking would feel a bit more appealing.

Grocery shopping aside, this mini makeover project took me about two hours and was deeply satisfying. I used the simple 5-step process outlined in my book, Minimalista, to efficiently transform our somewhat neglected fridge into a space that I want to show off to the neighbors – Hi Jenny and Eric!

Refresh your fridge

Step One: Clarify

I start any organizing project by clarifying what I want to accomplish and why. In this case, my motivation was to be able to find things with ease, eat healthier, and set up a fridge that would be easy on the eyes – and just as easy to maintain.

Step Two: Edit

I suggest rolling up your sleeves and removing everything from your fridge so you can start fresh. Wipe down sticky bottles and shelves, and ditch anything that’s past its prime. We have a municipal composting system, so all food scraps can go straight into the green bin, and bottles can be rinsed and recycled. This process can also be eye opening in terms of realizing which items are not being eaten so you can avoid buying them in the future – i.e. why on earth do we always have a bunch of wilted parsley when we obviously never eat parsley?

Step Three: Organize

Once you’ve cut the clutter and prepped your space, it should be easy to group and zone the remaining items. My broad categories included produce (fruit and vegetables separated), cheese, meat, leftovers and prepped foods, condiments, and beverages. Use your counters or dining room table to organize the contents of your fridge into broad categories, and then set up each category in your fridge in a way that makes sense to you. I used our crisper drawers for fruit and vegetables, cheeses, and meats, and I’m currently very smitten with this glass storage set for leftovers, prepared foods, and snacks.

Refresh your fridge

Step Four: Elevate

Every fridge is different, but most have adjustable shelves and some storage space in the doors. After my trip to the grocery store I stocked my containers with fresh fruit and veggies, snacks, and leftovers and ditched all unnecessary packaging. Leftovers and prepared foods were put into glass containers, and as a final touch, I set up some sparkling water and chilled wine in the door so I would see something pretty instead of coming face to face with Jordan’s hot sauce collection (why do we own so many hot sauces, WHY?).

Step Five: Maintain

Truth time. These systems help. A lot. But, my family collectively thinks I’m insane and has little to no motivation to maintain my work of art (I live with a bunch of dumpers and shovers – love you guys!). It’s been a few days and the mysterious tinfoil balls have returned, but still, the labeled drawers have made a big difference, and my collection of space pods make me smile every time I open the refrigerator.

Refresh your fridgeSources

I used this set from W & P Design, this ceramic egg crate, and this white metal storage bin. As always, I encourage you to repurpose items you already own before you hit the stores – mason jars are perfect for dips, dressings, herbs, and snacks, and you can repurpose any small bin or basket you own for centralizing leftovers, breakfast essentials, meal prep, or anything else you like. To minimize single-use plastics, I like to shop with reusable cloth produce bags and unpack directly into my glass storage set. Hope this mini makeover inspires you to tackle your own micro-organizing project.

Happy organizing!

Photography: Vivian Johnson 

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13 comments on “Refrigerator Refresh: 5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Fridge

    1. Ooh I wish they nested, but they don’t. We mainly store them in the fridge since they are constantly in use so hasn’t been an issue. x

  1. Yes! I can relate to your issue with the entire refrigerator door filled with hot sauces. I’ve convinced my husband that we can part with sauces from fast food places if we haven’t used them in two weeks though. I am going to use some of these hacks. I hadn’t thought about putting the produce directly into the veggie drawer before. You probably mentioned it in Minimalista, but it didn’t click. I also like the grape container from W&P.

    1. Nice win with the hot sauces! We have soooo many but I found they fit in the side of our refrigerator door so now they’re accessible but not an eye sore 😉

  2. I have meal prepped since my twins were babies. I also sort my fruits and veggies in bins
    By creating zones and sections it allows no waste and touch points for my whole family access
    It truely is a game changer

  3. As always your suggestion is inspiring and I can see myself cleaning out the fridge and reorganizing it upon suggestion; my next project in the morning. Thank you for sharing.

  4. OMG I love this. I aspire. I am pretty good, but my ‘fridge too gets out of control really quickly. I am inspired…

  5. I have to ask you where you put all your condiments, dressing etc.? My family has way too much of this stuff!

    1. We do too in my opinion – I use a turntable in the pantry for condiments that are non-perishable and the rest is in the other fridge side door (not pictured here!). xoxo

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