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11 Secrets of People Who Always Have an Organized Fridge

Learn to pack your refrigerator to keep ingredients fresh and how long your food should be kept to avoid food poisoning.

Refrigerator With Fruits And VegetablesAndreyPopov/Getty Images

You can’t stock up too far in advance on fresh foods such as fresh meat and fish, or fruit and vegetables, as they will deteriorate and lose their nutrients. Your best friend here is your fridge. With clever planning, you can prolong the life of fresh foods so that you can buy them with your main groceries just once a week. A well-organized fridge is essential to fuss-free cooking. When you unpack your weekly grocery load, it’s worth taking the time to position items in your fridge according to where they will keep best and how often you need access to them. Most items you buy from a supermarket for storage in the fridge will have a use-by date. If you are buying locally, ask your shopkeeper how long items can be kept before using. Also, keep your countertops organized with these tips to keep them clutter-free.

on a shelf in a white refrigerator, products of animal and vegetable origin, cream, milk, kefir, eggs, cottage cheese, compote in a jug and fresh berriesKurgu128/Getty Images

They push their milk to the back

Milk is a frequently used item, so your instinct is to store it in a convenient place, but it’s better to store it in a cold place. On the bottom shelf in the back is the best. If you buy multiple gallons of milk at a time, arrange it so that cartons with the earliest use-by dates are reached first. By the way, stop believing these common myths about dairy.

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They store butter by date

Butter and/or margarine should be stored by date. It’s best to keep them on the door of your fridge. They don’t need to be kept that cold, so it’s a perfect and easily accessible spot. Cream (or crème fraîche, sour cream) and yogurts should also be stored by the use-by date and kept covered. Keep them in a visible spot with the expiration date showing. Check out the ways you are shortening the life of your refrigerator.

healthy bio eggs in the fridgejohny007pan/Getty Images

They keep cheese and eggs close to the top

Cheeses need to be stored in the warmest part of the fridge—at the top, in a door shelf if you have room. Keep them covered in a plastic container or wrapped in greaseproof paper or foil – avoid cling film as it encourages a damp surface, and chemicals in the film may transfer to the cheese. Eggs should be kept in their boxes near to the top of the fridge along with the cheese or in the egg holders in the door. Similar to milk, store eggs in date order. Learn how to spring clean your fridge in 9 easy steps.

Veggie drawer in the fridgegyro/Getty Images

They preserve vegetables in the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge

Fresh vegetables and salad should be stored in the bottom of the fridge in the vegetable and salad drawers. Vegetables stay fresh for longer when stored in a slightly humid environment. Typically, that will be in the drawer in your fridge labeled “vegetables” or “high humidity.” If you find you are short on space, they can be stored in plastic bags in the main part of the fridge, but away from raw foods. Avoid the cold spots in the fridge such as the freezing compartment or the cold plate at the back of a larder fridge; if ice crystals form in foods such as salad vegetables, they will be unusable and will have to be thrown away. Now, see how to store your herbs properly.

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They stow fruit in the low-humidity drawer

Fruit should be stored in a low humidity drawer. In some fridges that drawer is marker “crisper.” Leave it in the original packaging or repackage into a plastic bag and seal. Citrus fruits don’t need to be stored in a bag. Check out these organizational secrets personal organizers would never tell you for free.

Mackerelannick vanderschelden photography/Getty Images

They store fish in the back

It’s best to eat fresh fish on the day you buy it, but if this is not possible, remove the packaging as soon as you get home, wipe the fish with a clean damp cloth, place on a plate and cover with cling film. Store it at the bottom of the fridge, ideally for no more than 24 hours. Don’t miss these 30 things you can organize in under 30 minutes.

Woman holding steak on chopping boardWestend61/Getty Images

They keep red meat away from cooked foods

It is essential to put fresh meats straight into the fridge as soon as you return from shopping. Keep them in their sealed packs or put unpacked meat on a plate and wrap in cling film. Make sure that raw meats are kept away from cooked food. Bacon should also be stored with raw meat. See how long different types of meat last in the fridge.

Thin sliced smoked turkey slices in a plastic tray on a tableBWFolsom/Getty Images

They pack deli meat away from the raw meat

Sliced cooked meats, such as ham and salami, must be stored away from raw meats. Once opened, bacon and cooked meats should be placed in a sealed container and used within a few days. Don’t miss exactly how to stock your fridge if you want your food to last.

Chickpea stew and rice pilaf, vegan foodBasak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

They take special care of cooked rice

Rice may seem innocent, but it is potentially dangerous, as harmful bacteria can form, so it can be kept in the fridge for only one or at most two days. Have you been storing these 11 foods wrong the whole time?

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They transfer canned foods to sealed plastic containers

Cans rust in the fridge, so transfer food from opened cans to sealed plastic containers before putting them into the fridge. Sauces in jars and tubes (such as mayonnaise, pesto, curry paste, horseradish, tomato purée, and garlic paste) can be stored in the cupboard until they are opened, but then need to be kept chilled and used before the use-by date. Learn more about the types of food containers you’ve been using all wrong.

Kitchen RefrigeratorTriggerPhoto/Getty Images

They know when not to use the fridge

Some foods should be stored at room temperature: tomatoes to develop their flavor; avocados to ripen properly; onions, potatoes, and root vegetables (best stored in a vegetable rack in a cool, preferably dark, place); and most fruit, except berries (bananas will go black if stored in the fridge). Next, find out which foods you need to refrigerate and which you should leave at room temperature.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.