Our family has fridge issues.

On any given day, this is what our refrigerator looks like.

I know, I know. It’s embarrassing, and all you organizational gurus are running for cover, but I am showing that my life and fridge are not always “pinnable.”

Hopefully, a few of you are smiling and nodding your head. This is for you. Enjoy the acknowledgement and relief that comes from knowing you are not alone with your fridge mess.

With five children, four of them teens, we inhale large quantities of food on a daily basis, and yes, my fridge has been in a perpetual mode of dis-organization lately.

Ironically enough, since I detest food waste. So much so that for the last few years, I’ve declared one week challenges on the blog: No Food Waste Week, and yet lately, our disorganized fridge has led to it.

Yes, we’ve all found those leftovers that have been nestled in the recesses of the fridge with no distinguishable features. Honestly, sometimes it’s not even worth cleaning out the nasty containers.

Yes, we are coining a new term –  those fridge messes and the process Leftover Roulette: Deciding what’s in the food container in the back of the fridge, when it’s from and if it’s still good.

For many of us, the food stuffed in our fridge comes under the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” category. We completely forget it’s there, and our fridges get super disorganized.

Here are the ways I am conquering my Fridge Mess Clutter.

Determine a plan and be willing to empty the entire fridge.

This is something I should have done years ago, but my best intentions resulted in work. Well, this is an hour of work well worth it. It saves time, money and for me, my sanity.

Ask yourself key questions.

What areas in your fridge are the key problems? Do you eat a lot of produce and need to deal with keeping produce fresh? How often to you have left overs in your fridge?

Identify those areas, and then we can begin.

Clean it out

Yes, remove everything. Come on, you can do it. It will feel so good. Almost like you are moving into a brand new house. Once it’s empty, things will move quickly.

Throw any expired foods away or those Leftover Roulette items that have been hiding in the corners. Get rid of the extra condiment bottles. (You know the one that’s been there for months because the kids keep opening a fresh one when they don’t want to get the last little bit out?) Wipe down all bottles that may have stickiness or drips on the side before returning to fridge.

Wipe down every area of your fridge.

Take out the drawers, shelves and any removable bin, and wash thoroughly. Use Clorox Clean up Cleaner with Bleach to remove any invisible issues that may be creeping inside. Don’t forget the corners and rubber seals that tend to have build up.

Designate drawers and shelves

This is our number one issue or lack there of. It’s a total free for all in our fridge and no one knows where to find items. We are attempting to group together small items that we frequently use in a handled bin. This not only allows easier access to the group of items, but it makes cleanup so much easier. I typically have the crisper filled with produce, but our main drawer is broken and can’t be opened, so it’s a “long term storage” spot. In that area, I will keep meats of all kinds.

Purchasing a small plastic tote for  condiments used frequently is wise. It allows the kids to identify exactly where ketchup, salad dressings, mayo etc should be placed.

If you are training kids to help, label the shelves and the bins, so when groceries are getting put away, they will learn where to put them each time. ( I have to retrain mine in this area.) For instance, if you have a lot of dairy, determine a dairy shelf. I am going to make one shelf just for left overs or quick “reach and go” foods. This will solve our problems tremendously.We got through foods quickly, so dating our items isn’t important, but I highly recommend this step so that you can rotate old items to the front.

Enjoy the Process

This is key. I often forget to be grateful for the little things, like the fact that I have this amazing fridge to organize. While this process seems daunting at first, once you have designated this hour, and you conquer the fridge mess, it will be freeing. Now once a month upkeep is manageable.

What is your biggest fridge challenge?

Do you often play Leftover Roulette?

I think this issue needs a little more attention, so what can we tackle together?

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