Save Money – Organize Your Refrigerator

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save money organize your refrigerator

Save Money Organizing Your Refrigerator!

Here is an excerpt from our Groceries On A Dime ebooks about organizing your refrigerator:

Organize your fridge.

There is a difference between cleaning and organizing. When you clean, you get rid of the “nasties” and wipe down the shelves. When you organize you place things in a certain order to make it easier to use them.

For example, I always keep my milk, my cheese and lunch meats in the same spots in the refrigerator. The eggs go on one side.The fruits go in the fruit bin and the vegetables go in the veggie bin. If I have room, I try to keep all the leftovers on the same shelf or in the same area in the refrigerator.

Why is any of this important and how can it save me money? Because we can save huge amounts of money by not wasting food. Food is wasted because we didn’t know we had it and it spoiled or we didn’t know we had it so we bought more of it and then it spoiled.

By having things organized, I can see at a glance if I need milk or cheese.If someone comes home for a quick lunch and I’m not there, they can look on the leftover shelf and know they can eat any of those leftovers for lunch instead of having to paw through the fridge to find something to eat. Keeping my refrigerator organized also helps me know if I need to have an extra “leftover” dinner that week because leftovers are piling up.

All of these same principles apply to your freezer, but you also want to be sure to label, label and label items in your freezer.

This all looks good on paper but what do you do when you have four kids and a husband digging through the fridge all the time?

Once a refrigerator is cleaned, most families try to keep it that way. When something gets moved out of place it is usually so obvious most people automatically put it back where it belongs. If that doesn’t happen, keep a small bank by the fridge and start fining everyone if something isn’t put back in the right place.

When money is involved, people change their habits quickly and will learn fast. Instead of fines, you could require that the person does a chore or something extra for mom as a “fine”.

Things will get messy no matter how careful you are but that is why you need to straighten your refrigerator each week before you go get groceries. I automatically straighten it throughout the week when I get in the fridge. It only takes five seconds or so to do this if you keep up with it.

Think on the positive side. Is there a “cooler” way to spend your summer!! HA! HA!



photo by: mr_t_in_dc


  1. Anonymous says

    jill… awesome article… also, i wanted to share with you and everyone … when my daughter makes those krispy treats… she uses a container of the “fluff” or the marshmallow kreme from kraft (i think its kraft, its a glass jar) instead of melting the marshmallows (less of a mess in the pot) and with the rice, she adds cheerios and the chex cereal to give it a different taste… or the puffed rice/wheat cereal… so this way she doesnt use her stove and also she makes “pie” too … she uses instant pudding (mix as directed), lets it cool in fridge for like 1-2 hrs and then folds in cool whip and puts it into the graham cracker crust or takes muffin cups (those paper cups you can put in the muffin tins when making cupcakes or muffins) and on the bottom she puts a vanilla wafer, spoons some of the “pie” mixture and voila’ … dessert… heehe 😀 … just wanted to share…
    rose 😀

    • Cindy says

      I made mini cheesecakes in the muffin cups with vanilla wafers on the bottom. They tasted great but if not eaten right away the vanilla wafer gets soggy.

  2. Anonymous says

    thats awesome that good morning america will be doing a bigger story on tawra… will u be there too?… i hope so and mike too… you all deserve it too bc of the wonderful things you do to help all of us…
    jill i hope you have a wonderful vacation… and a safe one too…
    thats something that mike and tawra both left their wallets/purses at grandma’s…
    nothing like murphy’s law to add a little spice to our lives… hehehe 😀
    rose 😀

  3. marzerna says

    Great ideas ladies. My mom keeps a piece of notebook paper taped to her fridge (her grocery list) If you use the last of something in the house, ie. toleit paper, bread or milk, you have to write it on the list (or else). This way she knows exactly what she doesn’t have when she goes to the store

  4. Tawra Jean says

    I saw on TV someone use the marshmallow creme for the rice k. treats and was wondering if it was any good like that and now I know. Marshmallow creme lasts for a long time. They have it on sell here a lot at Christmas time so I imagine a person could stock up then and use it all year long.

    That is also a good idea for putting the vanilla wafer in individual muffin cups. Something like that would be good to take along to a church function or family reunion where people could just pick up their individual serving with less mess maybe.
    Thanks Rose and thank your daughter too for those good ideas. :) :) Jill

  5. Tawra Jean says

    Marzerna, good tip. I keep a list on the inside of my cabinet to remind me where I put my extra spices. That’s what you have to do when old age sets in. :) :) Jill

  6. Lib says

    THanks for the great tips!:o)
    I wqas shocked how much fridge waste I was having ,when I started being more aware of it!

  7. Glenda says

    Hi Tawra:

    Just wanted to check with you about Good Morning America – have you heard anything more on it?

  8. alisha says

    i haven’t made rice crispy treats in a good while. reading this has got me craving them again. haha. i think i may make some with the kids this weekend.

  9. George says

    Another useful tip is to keep a black marker (like a Sharpie) near your fridge or pantry. For things that you don’t use completely the first time, like a jar of spaghetti sauce, which needs to be used within X days of opening, you should write the date on the lid or the jar, so you can tell if the item is still good or not.

  10. grizzly bear mom says

    I have a grocery store list organizaed by frozen food, canned, produce, etc. When I use the last of something I circle it on the list. I’m also one of those folks who detemrined the cost of things per ounce at various stores like Walmart, Safeway, etc and purchase the item when it is at its cheapest.

  11. Anne Smith says

    The back of the frig bottom shelf is hard to access and hidden left over food gets uckie.
    I bought a butler tray with straight sides at Ross’ and load it up with things like block cheese, small container holding cut lemon, hidden candy (lol), tortillas stacked on top etc
    When I need an item in the back, I just pull out the whole tray and set it on the counter.
    Saves my neck and back and stuff doesn’t get “lost”

  12. Pat says

    I keep a running list of what I have in my freezer,the date of each item and where it’s located in the freezer.

  13. Anonymous says

    I thought it was a very well written article, but i am still left wondering “How to”….. I think the title was a little miss leading i expected to learn how to organize or I guess what to put what where for example “Milk should go in the large door bin, meat items on the bottom shelf in case of leaking etc.”

    But again very well written article.

  14. LilyB says

    I have plastic containers in my fridge on most shelves. Each box is labelled ‘lettuce’ or ‘root veg’ or ‘fruit’, ‘nuts & seeds’ etc etc(i live in a sub-tropical climate so nearly all food must be stored in fridge). Some friends think I am O.C.D.! But I have not had to throw away any food for a VERY long time!! To have a place for everything, and everything in its place has also saved much time in wondering what to make for dinner.

  15. Marla says

    I think this is a wonderful idea, but I sure could use some help putting it into practice. I have a fridge with divided shelves that are all different heights. And of course my leftover containers are all different sizes. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to put like things together because of the hate differences. Is there anyone who has overcome this problem, and is willing to share their solution?

  16. Dani says

    Ive found that putting eggs, yogurt, tortilla, on shorter shelves and restocking from the back (oldest at front) works for us. Some fridges have enough room for stacking same items two high.

    For taller shelves I find milk, soy milk,/juice can be stocked front to back also, just like the dairy case at supermarket. At one side I will stack my leftover containers or items being thawed, so prepping for next meals is simpler. If they don’t stack, use one shelf above or below for like items.

    Think of it as a grid where connecting squares contain like items, So you have “zones” for items you are storing or seeking. Good luck!

  17. Sheri says

    I have zones in my refrigerator too. We have the milk shelf, the yogurt shelf, cheese and lunch meat drawer, fruit drawer, vegetable drawer, leftover shelf, condiment shelf and misc. shelf. A very short shelf for tortillas or bacon.

    I have my shopping list on the refrigerator door according to what store I buy things. I have made a “best price” list, so they can look up where I buy that item they just ran out of. It is also my weekly calendar. I review my activities for the week on Sunday night and transfer items that didn’t get done or bought over to the next week me. Doing this on Sunday night helps me to NOT miss something on Monday! Then I can also shop according to our activities.

  18. Heidi says

    I organize my cabinets and pantry in a similar way…baking supplies together, canned veggies, etc. I figured everyone did this, but I guess not. So thankful I had a great mom to train me =)

  19. Barb~ says

    Great article, Jill!
    My worst habit is putting leftovers in small plastic containers. I try not to waste a thing, but these little containers can be my downfall. They get moved around, and usually wind up at the very back. When I finally find them again, they can look like a mystery food with fuzz, mold, etc. starting to grow on them. At that point, I usually throw the whole thing away, and I’m so upset with myself for causing the waste!

    Is there a better solution for small amounts of leftovers?


    • says

      Barb you could try too reserving one special section of your fridge for leftovers only and that way they don’t get hidden all over the place. I know it sounds crazy but keeping everything in it’s certain place really helps. Another thing too is you could get into the habit of say Tues. and Fri. always checking for leftovers and using them for dinner on those evenings. Of course they don’t have to be certain days but you get the idea.

  20. grizzly bear mom says

    Consider putting all reasonable leftovers (no mixing of fish and strawberries for example) in a plastic container in the freezer. When its full or every Friday, make soup, stirfry, fruity brown betty, etc.

  21. Magdalen says

    Had to laugh, Barb, that happens to me too. I was wondering what the things that looked a bit like rabbit droppings were then I remembered the spoonful of cooked mushrooms.

  22. Mary Jane says

    When I had teens and pre-teens in my home, a couple of times over the summer, I got a phone call from a working childless couple who were my neighbours. They entertained a lot, especially in the warm weather. If they had recently had a lot of company, and the fridge was filling up with bits and pieces of leftovers, they would invite my kids over for lunch, and make it open buffet. There was enough for 4 kids, myself, and both of them. We adults got in a good visit, with a great cup of coffee, and the kids pretty much “Hoovered up” all their leftovers. The husband was a really funny guy, and was totally transparent with the kids, that he wanted them to eat up his goodies, so he wouldn’t have to waste anything, and could have something new for dinner the next day. Several problems solved at once. I know a lot of families will do this for lunch or supper once a week, to clear out leftovers. There isn’t enough of any one thing for everyone to have it, but there is enough bits and pieces of several things for everyone to eat well.

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