How many times have you bought a jar of salsa, only to later find a second, moldy twin hidden in the dark depths of your refrigerator? No more. Elsa Elbert, CEO of Composed Living, a Los Angeles–based organizing company, is here to whip your fridge’s shelves into shape. Specifically, she’s got expert advice on how to organize a French door refrigerator, whose deep double doors allow for even more opportunity to mismanage the space.
If you can’t easily see everything that you have, you’re more likely to end up buying duplicates or risk food expiring. (Talking to you, salsa.) After all, food waste is a very real problem in the U.S., with approximately 30 to 40 percent of our food supply getting dumped every year.
Elbert has a few tricks for making the most of your French door refrigerator space to keep your groceries not only in plain sight but fresher, longer. Read on for the six steps—and six products—she swears by.
1. Adjust the Refrigerator Shelves to Work for You
Start with a clean slate: Remove everything from your fridge. Wipe the shelves clean and rearrange them to make them work for you and your shopping habits. For instance, maybe you need a designated space for a tall gallon of kombucha. “Taking the time to set it up now will save you the frustration later,” says Elbert.
2. Create Zones
Keeping a refrigerator organized is endlessly easier if you designate a place for everything: leftovers to the, well, left; beverages to the right; fresh, must-eat-soon items front and center. “Whatever you eat most often should get prime real estate in your fridge,” explains Elbert. Make the most of a French door refrigerator’s deep door bins and adjustable shelves by purchasing a few acrylic bins to group items. That way the zones will stay tidy and you can easily see what you’re running low on.
3. Label, Label, Label
Ever ogled an old container of Chinese food, not sure what you may find inside? Avoid the horrors of ever doing that again by labeling containers in your fridge with a few key pieces of information: what’s inside and when you made it. (Or when DoorDash delivered it.) Use a label maker if that’s your style—Elbert loves the P-Touch by Brother—or simply a Sharpie and blue painter’s tape, the inexpensive approach of nearly every restaurant.
4. Invest in Nice Food Storage Containers
Stackable glass boxes will save you precious fridge space—they allow you to downsize from regular food packaging once you’ve half eaten your carton of strawberries. Bonus: They’re better for the environment (you can reuse them over and over) and aren’t an eyesore.
5. Line Your Refrigerator Drawers With a Kitchen Towel
No one enjoys cleaning their refrigerator, so to make it a breeze, Elbert recommends lining your drawers with a kitchen towel. When a mystery spill inevitably appears, just wipe it up and wash the towel, no waste necessary. She recommends flour sack towels above all others; they’re lightweight, affordable, and an eco-friendly alternative to the paper variety.
6. Understand the Climate of Your Fridge
The deep door bins of a French door fridge offer plenty of grocery real estate, but be mindful that the doors are the warmest zone of any refrigerator, so this is an ideal place for condiments and jams—items less affected by temperature variation. Dairy should be kept toward the back of the bottom or middle shelf, where it’s coldest, says Elbert, while fruits and vegetables should be stored in separate drawers, as veggies require more humidity than fruits. Produce puzzle solved.
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