In many kitchens, the refrigerator does dual duty as a place to store food and a place to post things. So how do you keep it from becoming a clutter-filled monster, both outside and in? We’re sharing a few of our favorite fridge organization tips below to help you get started.

The Outside

For many people, the refrigerator is prime real estate for kids’ photos and drawings. It’s also an easy place to put reminders, calendars, menus, certificates, and a variety of other things that may or may not belong up there. The best way to handle the clutter is to create zones. Here’s our favorite way to organize the outside of the refrigerator:

  • The Gallery is the place most people who visit your kitchen see. Use this zone to hang a few photos or drawings and artwork made by little hands. You can change it out frequently. If you don’t already have a collection of magnets, Amazon has a variety of them that can coordinate your look. Limit the number of pieces of art, so your view does not get cluttered.
  • The Family Command Center is a good place to post a family calendar, SAT or ACT registration tickets for your college-bound kiddo, and any other information that you need to keep front-and-center that affects the people living in your house. This zone belongs in a more out-of-the-way location, something that not every visitor needs to see.
  • Banish menus, coupons and other non-essential information to a drawer, file or trash can.
  • Store extra clips and magnets on the side of the fridge where they cannot be seen. Or, donate them to reduce the temptation to hang more stuff on the outside of your fridge!

The Inside

Ever open up the door to a refrigerator and wonder what in the world happened in there? Not in the “Ghostbusters” sense when Sigourney Weaver’s fridge opened to another dimension, but when something so funky wafts out that it makes your eyes water?!  Here are a few tips for organizing the inside of your refrigerator and keeping food safe:

  • Think of the fridge like a grocery store & keep like items in “departments” (like dairy, meat, fresh fruit, sauces, leftovers, etc.) for easy retrieval.
  • Leftovers, drinks and ready-to-eat foods (like applesauce) can go on the top shelves. There’s a great turntable on Amazon designed for storing leftovers and keeping them easy-to-see.
  • Eggs need a consistent temperature, so the middle shelf is the best option for them. Store them in their original carton.
  • Fruits and vegetables go in the crisper drawers because you can control the humidity levels. Fruits like low humidity while vegetables like a little more humidity. Store both in their original bag (except citrus), and don’t wash until you are ready to use because water can promote mold and cause bacteria to run amok.
  • Condiments, butter and soft cheeses are fine in the door. Pasteurized orange juice is fine there, too, but any fresh juice should be stored on the bottom.
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, sour cream, etc.) belong on the bottom shelf in the back, where your refrigerator typically is the coldest. Use a turntable, or stack items so the expiration dates are visible.
  • Packaged raw meat should go on the bottom shelf where juices can’t drip and contaminate the whole fridge. If you don’t have a dedicated lower drawer for meat, use a clear plastic bin that will catch any drips.
  • Plastic bins also are good for keeping smaller items like bottles of hot sauce or dressing packets organized.