The modern refrigerator is a thing of beauty. Each manufacturer claims to have the best design by boasting a bevy of must-have amenities. An ice machine, a shelf to store eggs, a meat and deli drawer, even a place to chill 4 bottles of wine. Regardless of how fancy or simple your fridge is, a little strategic organization can do wonders to maximize efficiency. Even if the layout of your fridge differs slightly from another, the same basic storage principles still apply, and are sure to increase the efficiency and shelf life of your food.

 

The Mechanics

The ideal refrigerator temperature hovers around 1°C. Warmer temperatures run the risk of bacteria growth and spoiling food. Be aware, however, that the temperature in your fridge will vary from shelf to shelf, door to drawer. This is why careful organization is essential.

The Door

This is the warmest part of the fridge, and where temperatures can reach above 4°C, which is not ideal for perishable food. Condiments and drinks, which are slow to spoil, are best kept here. Although the door is a common place to stash eggs, we recommend placing them in a colder part of the fridge, like the middle shelf.

Top Shelf

Colder than the door, the upper shelf of your fridge should be reserved for leftovers and ready-to-eat foods like yogurt, cheese and deli sandwich meats. Be sure not to overstock your shelves, as air needs to circulate around your food to keep it cool. A crowded shelf can create warm spots and lead to food spoilage.

Middle Shelf

As we venture down the inside of the fridge, the temperature begins to drop. The middle shelf is an ideal place to store milk, eggs and dairy products. Most shelves are adjustable to meet your individual storage needs, so make them work for you.

Bottom Shelf

The coldest shelf in the fridge, this is where raw ingredients should be kept. Typically, meat and seafood should be stored on the lowest shelf. Studies show that keeping meat slightly below freezing helps it stay fresh significantly longer. Make sure the meat in your fridge is wrapped firmly, to avoid cross contamination with items in the crisper below.

The Crisper Drawers

These drawers often have adjustable settings designed to control humidity and help vegetables and fruit stay crisp. Keep the humidity level in the drawers set to high. You’ll be surprised at how long your lettuce, broccoli and other veggies stay fresh. Located at the bottom of the fridge, the crisper drawers may be colder than the bottom shelf. This is why some prefer to use one crisper drawer for fruit and veg, while keeping the other strictly for meat and seafood. If you opt for this layout, be sure to frequently clean the drawer you use for meat.

 

For additional helpful hints, reach for your fridge manual, you may be surprised at what you find!