How To Arrange a Refrigerator - Tips to Keep Food Fresh

Keeping foods as fresh as possible usually involves keeping perishables as cold as possible just as soon as possible after purchase. Your refrigerator has a big job to do and should not be taken for granted. Here are a few tips for how to arrange a refrigerator for maximum utilization along with other tips for keeping a fridge and its contents in tip-top shape.

arrange a refrigerator

How to Arrange a Refrigerator

How To Arrange a Refrigerator - Tips to Keep Food Fresh

  • Keep your refrigerator below 40°F (4°C). Ideally, set the temperature from 35°F-39°F. The colder you can keep your foods, without unwanted freezing, the better and the longer it will keep.

  • A refrigerator thermometer is a good idea. Foods spoil quicker with each degree raised. You will need to discard most foods from your fridge if the temperature inside ever reaches above 40°F.

  • Always transfer leftovers to the smallest possible containers before storing in the fridge. Remember that air is foods biggest enemy, so squeeze as much out as possible.

  • Label and date. Take a second and a permanent marker to label and date that little white space on your storage bags, you’ll be glad later.

  • Keep foods more likely to make you sick on the lowest, coldest shelves. A fridge will have warmer and colder sections with the bottom and rear slightly cooler and the door slightly warmer.

  • Keep a plate or tray under any meat or seafood package. Should the packaging leak, not only does your fridge stay clean, but you will prevent cross-contamination from juices that may contain bacteria.

  • Fresh fish is best stored between ice packs (besides on a plate) in the fridge. Bacteria can grow quickly on fish, so the colder the better.

  • Keep items used most often on the door and those used less often in the back.

  • Keep like items together. Spreads in one section, dressings in another section, veggies in one drawer, meats in the deli drawer, etc. The trick here is always returning them to the same section after use :).

  • Use lightweight trays in different colors to hold items that you use together often. For instance, a tray with the usual breakfast items or one with everything needed to make the kids lunches. This not only allows the refrigerator door to close sooner saving energy, but prevents mishaps from trying to hold onto too many items in your arms at one time.

  • Remember that foods stored closed to your freezer section can become partially frozen, so keep more delicate items on the opposite side of the fridge from the freezer if you have a side by side style refrigerator.

  • Cool off hot foods before placing them into the fridge. Placing hot foods directly into the fridge will not only cause it to overwork itself in order to keep things cool, but place nearby delicate foods into a potentially dangerous situation as it heats them up.

  • Keep crisper drawer controls to max moisture. Crispers are designed to retain moisture to keep veggies from shriveling so keep the moisture control up – but not to the point where there is visible water on the produce.

  • Keep sturdy products on the door. More delicate products like milk and cream should be kept near the back and not on the door, but tougher products like butter do great on the door.

  • Keep a box of baking soda, the one with a flow through box design where you tear away the sides to expose a mesh netting, inside your fridge to absorb odors. Replace the box every six months or so.

  • Keep refrigerator gaskets clean. Bacteria and mold can build easily here – vinegar or soft soap works well to clean them off now and then. Replace any worn gaskets that are no longer forming a tight seal, these seals can be ripped off and replaced fairly easily.

  • Keep refrigerator vents vacuumed. Dust build-up can prevent your coils from properly cooling.


  • Additional Information

    See our other posts for help with grocery shopping, menu planning and making your produce last longer.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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