Hello friends, welcome! Last week I showed you how I organize my pantry and today, I want to show you my refrigerator. I will also show you my pantry cabinet. The renovation and reorganization of our kitchen layout afforded us the space to build a pantry cabinet with drawers. This pantry cabinet has proven to be an indispensable addition to the kitchen. Much like my closet pantry, I organize everything by type, or use. Let’s take a peek!
In the fridge, I choose where to put things mostly based on their size. Then I group like things together. Generally, leftovers always go in the front and center of whichever shelf has space for them. And of course there’s always the odd item that just gets set where it fits. This doesn’t throw it all into disarray because everything else has its place.
Let’s start with top three shelves. The top shelf is for eggs, jars of saved fats and flavored butters, my sourdough starters, and our dogs’ food (in the red-topped container). I also have some random seasonings and sauces on the top shelf. The next shelf down is where we keep dips, homemade sauces and pickles.
I always keep bread and tortillas on the right side of the third shelf. We don’t go through bread fast enough for it not to get moldy, so we keep it in the fridge and toast it before making a sandwich. This shelf is also where I keep almond butter and jams; and pickled items like sauerkraut, ginger and carrot ribbons. Generally, sandwich-making items.
The tallest shelf on the bottom is where all the large items go. This shelf is pretty consistent: we have a variety of pickles (we eat a lot of pickles!) on the left side; leftovers and tall veggies that need to be stored in water, like fresh herbs and asparagus in the center; and a Cambro with all my citrus on the right. Always keep your citrus in the fridge. You will surprised how much longer they last. When the volume of leftovers makes sense, I prefer to use Cambros to store leftovers (spot the leftover Instant Pot Chili? Haha!). Their stack-ability and sturdy lids really help to save space.
The top drawer is for meats and cheese. With bacon or other non-sandwich meats on the right side.
The bottom drawer is for veggies, although today, I have an overflow of meats and cheese on the left side. Which happens sometimes. We are preparing for a trip to Tybee Island, so I have let my veggie drawer get empty. But you can see, I keep peppers on the right side, hearty veggies in the center with packaged fresh herbs. and on the left side I normally keep the leafy greens. I always wash and dry my dark leafy greens and burrito-wrap them in a dry paper towel before sealing them in a bag.
The Refrigerator Door
We have a spacious fridge door, however the shelves themselves are pretty shallow. So only the skinniest of items can fit well. The butter shelf has partitions so I can keep my salted and unsalted butter separate which is helpful when they lose their wrappers. All of the most-used condiments are on the center shelf, while everything else is organized loosely by type or purpose and mostly by fit.
I audit the items in the fridge every week, checking sell-by dates and assessing if things should be tossed, or consolidated. Rotation of duplicative items is key. I usually do this every time I go shopping. Put the new behind the old.
Our freezer is a drawer, and it’s tiny! There’s not a lot of room in there, so I do a rotation game. I keep items I use regularly, or plan to use soon in this freezer. Our house came with an old fridge, so we moved that out into the garage and I keep rarely used or bulky items in that freezer.
Everything is arranged vertically, so nothing gets overlooked and lost on the bottom of a pile. Various frozen veggies, fruit and frozen dumplings make up the contents of this freezer. I also keep my pecans and walnuts in the freezer to maintain their freshness.
Pantry Cabinet – The Reach-in
We call this the “Reach-in” and we call the closet pantry the “Walk-in”. In the restaurant world, these terms refer to refrigerators. But it makes sense for these two storage areas. And Alex and I needed easy terminology to refer to these two spaces to avoid confusion when asking each other to grab something out of the “pantry” – “which one?” So we arrived at Reach-in and Walk-in.
The drawers are organized by type, with the bottom drawer being kind of an overflow storage for items that will eventually make their way to fridge, as well as large or awkwardly shaped items.
The top drawer is where I keep a bin of onions and other items such as tall boxes of broth. The next drawer down is for canned goods and specialty sauces. I keep all the cans in neat rows. Often, I have more than one can of something, so each row is a single particular thing. I also keep nuts used for cooking on this drawer.
Next up is the pasta and dried beans drawer. I also keep smaller packages of grains, like farrow here. This is also where I keep all my noodles, dried fruit, honey, preserves and nut butters.
Then we have the snack drawer. Crackers, chips, nuts and all things snacky are stored here.
Lastly, the bottom drawer holds overflow items and things that we hardly use like cans of soup. This drawer has the most clearance so taller things like cereal or cracker boxes find their way here. Also bulk items like big canisters of mixed nuts land here.
Even if you don’t have pull out drawers, you can arrange your cabinets in ways that make sense for your frequency of use and organization by type. Cabinets are not easy to see into, so I recommend using little shelves to elevate items in the back. Turntables, or Lazy Susans also help easily see what what you have.
In the pantry and the fridge, overcrowding is a quick way to make abundant space unusable, or a total pain to navigate. So I always do a quick inventory when I make a shopping list so I don’t buy too many duplicative items, and so I don’t buy things thinking “I will use this someday…” Because until you use it, it’s just taking up space.
I hope this post on How to Organize a Refrigerator and Reach-in pantry has given you a few organizational takeaways. I’d love to hear some of your strategies for keeping an organized refrigerator and cabinets. Let me know in the comments, or on facebook and Instagram. Take care everyone, and be well! xo Kelly