A Clean & Organized Fridge

Aug 7

I love getting away from home on vacation, but when we return there’s always much to catch up on around the house. Unpacking, piles of laundry, sorting through photos….and re-stocking the fridge and pantry. Since we are fresh off a week-long vacation, this is a perfect time to share how I clean and organize the fridge.
Before leaving on an extended trip, I make sure to use as many fresh items as possible. I plan meals around what’s available in the fridge which helps create the least amount of waste. The day prior to take off, I either give fresh items to friends or toss fresh items that could potentially rot. Typically, several friends welcome these fresh items!
Items that can survive a week (or more) in the freezer are moved. Foods such as bread, bagels, bakery items, berries, butter, cheese and meats are all great for freezing. Upon return, I quickly scan the fridge to make sure items left inside did survive…
With the fridge picked over, I remove everything for a thorough cleaning. My cleaning products of choice are white vinegar, clorox bleach spray and old rags…

Amazing how dirty the fridge can be…


Any removable parts are soaked in hot water with a 1/4 cup of white vinegar…

Most of the cleaning can be accomplished with white vinegar, but sometimes if there’s something particularly germy a spritz of bleach spray may be in order. Once the fridge is clean, I spend time putting together a meal plan for the week.
My fridge goes through this deep clean process not only after a vacation. In general, I clean the fridge once a month and try to do it before leaving for the market. That way when I come home, the perishable items can quickly be put away.
Produce is expensive, especially if it’s organic. I try my best to extend the life of our produce so nothing goes to waste.
The one thing I’ve learned about myself through this blog is that I don’t like packaging. When I organized our pantry, that point really hit home. The same is said for my fridge. I think this packaging was made as a means of transport for your produce, but it isn’t the best tool for keeping your produce fresh once home…

When the produce is washed and ready to consume, I package it away in new containers for the fridge.

Carrots – Removed from plastic, washed and placed in a ziploc container


Cherry tomatoes – Removed from the plastic container, washed, picked over and placed in a ziploc container…

Celery – This is the one fresh item guaranteed to be loaded with dirt. Instead of putting it away in the fridge like this and cleaning the stalks as I need them throughout the week…

Instead I pull apart the entire bunch…gross!…

Then I wash, cut and place them inside a large ziploc bag. They’re clean and ready for use all week…

Iceberg lettuce – Love iceberg lettuce for taco night and sandwiches, but the head is an awkward size…

The head of lettuce doesn’t fit in the produce drawer very well, so I cut it in half…

And put each half inside a large ziploc bag. This allows the lettuce to stay crisp and easily fit inside the produce drawer…

Fruits – The four fruits consistently found in my home are apples, grapes, strawberries and blueberries. Each requires cleaning well before eating. Since fruit is a go-to snack around here, I like to have them clean and ready for grabbing.

When it comes to berries, if one is bad in the bunch it won’t be long before the entire container is infected. Again, another reason why I re-package. I always go through the entire container to remove the bad one, then thoroughly wash the remaining…

To wash I fill the sink with cold water, add the fruit and let everything soak for about 5 minutes…

If your fruit is very dirty, you can add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the cold water…

When the fruit is clean, I remove everything and pat dry for storing. strawberries in their own ziploc container…

Grapes are removed from the stems and placed in a ziploc container…

Blueberries picked over and cleaned…

For fresh items not refrigerated, we have a stand in the kitchen where they live…

This stand is great for keeping fruit close at hand and it’s easy to see when low…

I keep items like tomatoes, limes, lemons, garlic, and apples on this stand. So pretty when full…

With the produce is washed and re-packaged, here’s what it looks like in the fridge. On the left is the iceberg lettce and strawberries. On the right is the cut celery, peppers and salad items I like to keep whole, but are kept inside plastic bags to keep from getting dried out…

The other prepped items in their ziploc containers sit on the bottom shelf…

Now that the big job of cleaning and prepping is complete, here’s a look at how I organize the rest of the fridge….
No, the fridge doesn’t stay this way all week. The first few days it looks organized, then as the week goes on and hands are in and out of the space, it’s disheveled. But it does make me smile to see it looking like this…at least for a day or two.
In the right door is milk, oj, butter and coffee creamer…
Butter is removed from it’s main packaging. Told you – issues with packaging…
Meat is inside one compartment and each item is wrapped in plastic to keep everything else protected in case of a spill…
Personally, I prefer not freezing meat. I know many do that and there’s nothing wrong with it! My family, however, doesn’t eat a lot of meat. So when I buy it, I buy fresh and eat it right away.
I love cheese – of all kind, but don’t love cheese with hard corners. When I buy cheese slices in a package like this…

I remove it and place it inside a ziploc bag. Have found the original packaging doesn’t have the best zipper…which can cause your cheese to get hard. Re-packaging helps keep it around longer…

Condiments are in the left side door…

A clean and organized fridge. A fridge back from summer vacation and ready for the school year – which begins next week! Yikes!…



Since we’re talking food and shopping after an extended vacation, thought I would update on our organized pantry
One of the best decisions made in our home was re-organizing the pantry. Can not express enough how much harder this pantry is working for us. And although our pantry is larger to begin with, this system created so much more room! The system I put in place has worked out well and looks perfect every day because the baskets and containers make it look nice – no matter how low the food supply gets.
When there is a place for everything, it keeps you on top of your grocery list and makes it look pretty!…
You may have noticed the chip shelf…
The market had organic chips on close-out yesterday for $1.19. I loaded up!
When it comes to keeping up on what’s low, these clear containers get the job done…

One quick glance and I know what needs replenishing…


Sometimes packaging is worth going into the recycling bin…while other times it’s worth keeping for re-purposing…

These little cardboard packages make great drawer organizers!

Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing inside my organized fridge. I’ll share more about the freezer soon!

comments +

  1. sara says:

    Great post Sam! Love it!!

  2. Chicory Blue says:

    I wrap my celery in foil…it keeps for a very long time tip his way

  3. Kris Sager says:

    My fridge is laid out the same way. I notice you are using the produce bins for meats and cheeses and the pantry drawer for produce. Any trouble with items freezing (like the lettuce)in the pantry drawer? If I put the shredded cheese too far back in the pantry drawer it freezes. I love that drawer becasue it keeps my fresh meats really cold but it is not an organized use of space becasue it is not deep enough. Would love your input before I make the change.

    • Hi Kris!

      Yes, I have switched around where I place food in the fridge just as a matter of how I like to organize. Our fridge has a temp adjustment on each drawer – both of those smaller drawers that have the meats and cheese….they each have a temp control on top of the compartment. And the bigger compartment, where I stow away the produce, also has its own temp control. I have been storing our foods this way since we purchased the fridge this spring (when our old fridge died) and I have never experienced anything going bad or freezing.

      But I know what you're talking about though because we have a fridge in the garage that freezes items in the same way you are describing. Even if I leave drinks on the top shelf of the fridge, but way in the back, they will be frozen solid. And sometimes in the drawers the items will freeze. I have only noticed that in the garage fridge, as I said – not in the kitchen fridge we have. And I think that is b/c I had the temp adjusted properly in each section.

      I hope that helps answer your question!

  4. Beautiful job on your fridge! It is so gross how nasty-dirty they can get! I take out my crisper drawers and it is shocking how dirty it gets underneath them. I will take some pointers on the produce storage! Now a new follower!

    • HI!

      Thank you so much for your comment and for now following along. Thank you!!

      Yes, amazing what is lurking under the drawers too – gross!!!!

      Thank you again,
      Sam 🙂

  5. Hi Samantha … I found you threw the Organize & Decorate Everything party. I had to comment to tell you THANK YOU for this post. I LOVED it!!!! I struggle to keep our frig organize yet you make it look easy. I see a project coming up for me next week : ) Thank you for all your tips. I'm a new follower
    : )

    • hi deanna!

      thank you for coming by from the link party! nice to meet you!

      i am SO glad you enjoyed this post. any time i can help someone or inspire someone is a good day for me. 🙂 i too struggle to keep our fridge clean and looking organized. with kids it's hard to do. please come back and let me know how your project turns out!!!

      all the best,
      sam 🙂

  6. Soany great ideas Sam!! I never really thought about taking all the produce out of their packaging but it makes so much sense to me now.

    Sharing on my fb page, this is too good not too!

    Hope you had a great time in SF!

    • hey friend!

      thank you so much!!! i know….for years i left the produce in the bags or containers brought home from the store. i always wondered why the produce didn't last very long. i really don't think those packages were intended for keeping fresh items fresh – instead i think they just help with transport.

      thanks for sharing on your FB page too!!!!

      yes, we had a wonderful trip and will share some pics soon!

      all the best,
      sam 🙂

  7. Ashley says:

    Wow! Looks fantastic!

  8. Mahek says:

    I love your blog … first time here and I am going to continue visiting .
    I love your tips regarding fridge organization.. how I hope my fridge was as big as yours , in India with less space you can just about have a fridge which is overloaded in my case with lots and lots of things …
    Thing tend to get spoilt easily due to the humid weather … and so it has to be stuffed we never have space for an pantry so we have a drawer which can be termed as pantry.. Hehe…
    I love the way you organize

    • hi!

      thank you for coming by and leaving a comment! so nice of you! i hope you can continue to visit me too! 🙂

      yes, we do have the luxury of space in this house and in the fridge. when our old fridge died, which was much smaller than this, i was determined to find a fridge that would help create more space for food. this new fridge, which opens up completely (fridge on top, freezer on the bottom) has really helped. it's just easier to reach in and see everything. so that could be what makes it look bigger. 🙂

      thank you again for stopping by and i hope to see you in here again soon!

      all the best,
      samantha 🙂

  9. Kathy B says:

    Beautifully cleaned and organized fridge and pantry. Thanks for all of the tips. Stopping by from the blog hop. New follower your welcome to visit anytime. http://www.southernmadeintheshade.blogspot.com

  10. Angela says:

    Great post! I only wish my fridge was this big & organized! =) On celery, a time-saver tip: To cut off the dirty ends, I place the entire thing on a cutting board & in one slice-through, I remove about 2 inches off the bottom. Makes quick work of it. I then use a damp paper towel to wipe down the stalks. There's usually not much dirt after you get rid of the end. And for strawberries, I read an article years ago that said you should only wash them immediately prior to using. They are like little sponges..they soak up water & this decreases their shelf life. I have found they def. keep longer, although they never last too long around here =)

    • hi angela!

      thank you for the comment!

      i think the reason our fridge looks so big is because it's the new kind of fridge that opens up completely. when we have a standard side by side it looked much smaller. i have to admit, i love this fridge…but i don't like the freezer. it's hard to organize items in there, the drawer doesn't pull out all the way and it's very deep. i'll share a post about the freezer soon, because honestly i am currently testing out some new org ideas in there and now sure they will work out. if they work, i'll share all about it in here. until then, i love the fridge…but not the freezer! 🙂 haha!

      thank you for all the tips!!!!

  11. Great post! Love the size of your pantry.

    I second the celery in foil comment. My dh is a celery freak and eats at least two large heads or "whatever they are called" a week! I also have a spray bottle of vinegar and water that I spritz my berries with…this prevents mold, and then when I use them I give them another rinse of clear water.

    I also put a few sheets of paper towels in the bottom of each produce drawer which I think helps keep the drawer cleaner, but then again I don't have kids and little hands rummaging around in there LOL! How is it that I never thought of cutting the darn head of lettuce in half?!?! I don't buy bagged lettuce so I always have several ziplocks with various types of lettuce. After washing, I wrap a paper towel around the root end and it not only absorbs the excess liquid, it seems to help the lettuce stay fresh longer. Just my experience, YMMV.

    I like glass containers vs. plastic however, again, I don't have kiddos that may drop or break them.

    • hi! thank you so much for coming by and leaving such a great comment! 🙂

      yes, you hit it all on the head…with kids in the house, having anything glass = worrisome! that is the only reason i go with plastic. our 7 year old is capable of picking out his own snacks from the fridge, but he is VERY clumsy. he loves carrots with ranch dressing, and he can grab both of those items from the fridge – and we allow him to do that. the idea of glass in there worries us b/c of that. so, we aren't being the most environmentally friendly family right now. soon enough though!

      i love the tips you shared!!!

      all the best,

  12. Eva says:

    Love this post!! I do have one burning question…I like the idea of taking things out of it's packaging..but how do you manage around the expiration date? How do you know when the item goes bad? I'm totally going to revamp our fridge this weekend with this in mind. Such an awesome post!

    • hey!

      thank you!

      with the packaging, are you talking about fresh items? if it's fresh items, it's easy to tell if it's gone bad just by looking. in terms of non-perishable items, we don't have an issue with that either. if you are talking about the items i put into the clear containers in the pantry, that would also be known by looking at it. things like flour and chocolate chips? should be easy enough to eye ball.

      let me know more specifically what items you're talking about and i'll try my best to answer. i haven't had any issues with items going bad…unless we just never got around to eating it before it went bad….and that almost never happens in this house! too many people around to eat everything – haha!


  13. Comeca Jones says:

    Oh my organization heaven!!!!

  14. Brandi says:

    Your fridge looks no nice and organized. My husband and I just starting chopping all of our vegetables too. Saves so much space and makes preparing meals much easier.

    • hi brandi!

      thank you so much for coming by and leaving a sweet comment!

      cutting your veges beforehand really does save so much space! i've learned that the hard way over the years 🙂

      all the best,

  15. sucia01 says:

    I keep certain veggies in a Tupperware Crisper. I like using baggies when necessary only because it's so wasteful when you toss them.

    I do one big grocery purchase a month. So that's when I clean out the fridge. And then when I stock my fridge looks like it belongs to the Husband on Sleeping with the Enemy. Every thing has to have the label looking foward. I blaming it on the year I spent merchandising at Macys.

    I am all about the clear containers for bulk items. I use glass jars only so if I ever have to use I can easily use it for liquid or dry goods. With plastic usually the smell of flavor gets seeped into the container.

    Great reminder about washing and soaking fruits and veggies. I don't do that very often. Need to start up that practice with the kiddo.

    • oh, i never toss my baggies…unless they get grummy inside and washing them doesn't help. i always reuse. 🙂

      and i wish we could use glass containers, but our big guy loves to help himself and i worry he would drop the container. we've had that happen before with other glass items in the house….so we like to play it safe with 3 kids in and out of the fridge. 🙂

      thank you so much for sharing your tips! and you made me LOL when you talked about the sleeping with the enemy guy – so true! maybe that's how my husband feels about living with me… :-/….haha!!! 🙂

  16. Great post! I've been working on organizing our fridge and pantry…it's a process. I got a lot of great tips from you today that I intend on implementing. Thanks for the inspiration. So glad I found you at the House of Hepworth's link party. I'm excited about becoming a follower.

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

    • momstheword says:

      I'll try again, lol! Great post! Thanks for the idea. I do have one question: how long do your carrots and other fruits last once they're washed? I don't usually wash my produce until right before I use it in hopes that it will last longer. My youngest eats carrots like they're going out of style but both kids are so busy with their jobs and life lately that they don't eat as many fruits or vegies as they used to.

    • hi sharon!

      thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! so glad you found a little inspiration in this post and i'm glad you popped over from the link party too!

      thank you again,
      sam 🙂

    • @momstheword – thank you so much for stopping by!

      our carrots and other fruits last a long time, actually – however, i can't keep fruit around here. so i haven't tested that out totally. the kids eat through it too quickly for me to ever have a true answer to that question. however, i will say the carrots last a LONG time. at least 10 days or more. a few friends of mine keep their prepped carrots and celery in a little container in the fridge with a small amount of water in the bottom. they have told me it keeps them crisper and fresher longer. i have never tried.

      hope that helps!!

      sam 🙂

  17. mom2maya says:

    Great post! I love how you remove all the packaging as soon as you get the produce home & washed!

  18. Wendy says:

    thanks i love this post. i thought i was the only person that didnt like the packaging. my fridge is a little bit different but it doesn't stay organize for more then 2-3 days. lol

  19. Awesome post!! I posted this to Pinterest too. Thanks!

  20. Sorry, I was trying to comment via my wordpress ID. Anyway…great ideas! I linked to this page when I posted about using a turntable in my refrigerator. I mentioned you had lots of good ideas. So thanks! – Lenore at explorenewness.wordpress.com

  21. With cheese, if you wrap it in a bit of waxed paper BEFORE you put it in a plastic bag or container, it doesn't go all sweaty and yucky. Try it!

  22. Amor says:

    Oh my!! I'm from South Africa and have discovered your blog this morning. I can see I am going to spend most morning wandering around here!! Love the fridge organizing and the tips given. TFS

  23. MommaG says:

    Have you heard of the Fridge Coasters? If so, what are your thoughts?

    • You know, I have heard of them but have not investigated further. My impression (and this could be wrong) is that they are disposable. ??? Either way I thought they could either be a waste (if disposing) or just another thing to clean if they had the be cleaned. I could be totally wrong though and they could be the best thing ever. 🙂

    • MommaG says:

      Maybe I didn't look close enough at them…didn't realize they were disposable!

  24. Monica E. says:

    Ok, so I know this post us old but I just found it today and it's so useful! Re-organizing our fridge is on my to do list. Thanks!

  25. Anna Childs says:

    Inspiring post! Where did you get your fruit stand? I love it!

  26. Penny Lyons says:

    Hello. Cleaning the fridge it my husband`s job. In my opinion I should wash dishes and he should clean the fridge. It is fair!

  27. Priyanka Mansotra says:

    Omg!!! An awesome post. I just loved it. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

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