Refrigerator Storage 101

refrigerator storage

Learn the proper way to organize your fridge!

Did you know there is a right and wrong way to store your food in the fridge? Not only will your food stay fresher, longer, but proper storage can prevent cross-contamination and help retain nutrients and flavor. Preventing cross-contamination is crucial for food safety and here you will find everything you need to know to do that.

Fridge/Freezer Basics

  • Keep your refrigerator temp below 40 degrees F and your freezer at 0 degrees F.
  • If your unit doesn’t have a visual thermometer, buy one! It’s important to know the temperature that your food is stored at. 40 degrees or lower slows the production of bacteria that can spoil food.
  • Invest in food storage containers. I love the glass pyrex containers that are dishwasher safe and are long-lasting for leftovers.
  • Make sure everything has a lid or cover on it. Plastic wrap will do! Leave food in its original store packaging (unless damaged) and only wash fruits/veggies just prior to using. Why, you ask? Anytime you add moisture to a food, you are inviting bacteria. Don’t wash produce just to have it sit in your fridge and collect bacteria.
  • Clean out your fridge every week. Get rid of outdated food or leftovers that may have gone bad. If your unit is jam-packed, the air can’t flow throughout to circulate.

Top Shelves

  • Leftovers
    • Store in airtight containers (clear containers help so you don’t forget what is in there)
    • Label with a date so you know how long they have been in there. Discard after 4 days.
    • Store in the refrigerator as soon as possible to prevent the leftovers from staying in the temperature danger zone for too long.
    • I like dividing leftovers up into individual servings so we can just grab and go when packing leftovers for lunch.
  • Drinks
    • Milk, water, beer (in our case ;)), wine, etc.
    • Store milk in the back of the fridge and NOT the door – you want it to stay as cold as possible to keep harmful bacteria from growing
  • Ready to eat foods
    • fruits, yogurts, cheese, deli meat. These are all foods that you can take out of the fridge and immediately eat without having to cook or heat up.
  • Eggs
    • Just like your milk, store eggs in the back of the fridge where they will stay coldest

Crisper Drawers

  • These are where your fruits and veggies can go to help with moisture control. They are easily contained and help keep harmful bacteria from other foods away.
  • If you have 2 crisper drawers available, store fruits in one and veggies in the other. This is important so that your fruits do not expose your veggies to the ethylene gas that can shorten shelf life.

Bottom Drawers/Shelves

  • This is where you can find your raw meats – at the BOTTOM or in their own separate meat drawer/shelves
  • Raw meat should be stored according to their proper cooking temperatures. Why? Because food that needs to cook to a higher temperature should be on the very bottom to prevent cross-contamination. Meats should be stored in this order:
    • Raw Seafood and Lamb (cooking temp is 145 degrees)
    • Raw beef and pork products (cooking temp is 145 degrees)
    • Ground beef, ground pork (cooking temp is 155 degrees)
    • Raw poultry (cooking temp at 165 degrees)
  • Raw meat should NEVER be touching other ready to eat foods and should NEVER be stored in the same drawer or on the same shelf. All it takes is a few drops of raw meat juice to get on a lettuce leaf to cause some serious food borne illnesses.

The Door

  • This is the warmest part of the fridge. Do not store and dairy products (milk, eggs, etc) in here since it is exposed to the room temperature the most AND is the farthest thing away from the cooling source.
  • This is the best place for your condiments

The Freezer

  • Make sure everything is wrapped or stored in airtight containers and labeled with names and dates
  • Freezing foods does not kill unwanted bacteria, but it will prevent it from growing
  • Tenderness, flavor, aroma, juiciness, and color can all be affected the longer a food is frozen
  • Freezing does NOT reduce nutrients
  • Per the FDA: Freezer burn does not mean the food is unsafe. Freezer burn is a food-quality issue, not a food safety issue. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots on frozen food. It can occur when food is not securely wrapped in air-tight packaging, and causes dry spots in foods.

Problem Solving

  • French Door Style refrigerators are usually pretty easy to put things in proper order because they are tall and skinny. If you have a fridge like mine, it can get a little trickier
  • If you have side by side drawers on the bottom, choose one for veggies and one for raw meat. Mark the drawers so there is no switching back and forth.
  • You can buy clear refrigerator storage baskets almost anywhere these days and will help keep foods from becoming contaminated. We have used these for cheese and fruit.
  • There are SO many different kinds of refrigerator storage organizers out there. Look around and see what can help you keep your food safe and tasty!

I’ll let you take a look inside my fridge 🙂


  1. The temperature at the top is NOT 4 degrees. The 3 didn’t show up in this photo for some reason. My refrigerator temperature is 34 degrees.
  2. Up in the top left you can see beer, ready to eat foods like applesauce, deli meats (circled), leftovers and butter. In the top right you can see easy access to fruits, my kids milks, and what you can’t see are the eggs and yogurt in the back
  3. In the middle is still ready to consume foods/beverages. Our milk, my 1-year-old’s milk, coffee creamer, almond milk, unsweetened applesauce (because I’m a mean mom), water and Powerade Zero to help my husband recover from the oh so horrible stomach bug
  4. Next are my crisper drawers which are both storing veggies at the moment
  5. And lastly, I have my raw meats drawer. It perfectly contains our raw meat at the very bottom of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination.
  6. Yes, that’s my cute little 1 year old asking for raspberries 🙂

I showed you mine, now you show me yours! Please post your photos of your newly organized fridge on our Facebook page! I can’t wait to see them!


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