How Can I Organize My Refrigerator to Prevent Food Waste?

You Ask, We Answer: How Can I Organize My Refrigerator to Prevent Food Waste?

We’ve all done it: grocery shopped with the best intentions, only to find that the leafy greens and fresh herbs have gone bad before we got around to using them. Or maybe it’s discovering the leftovers you forgot about at the back of the fridge, or buying another bottle of ketchup because you couldn’t see the one that was tucked behind the head of broccoli. Food waste is an all too common problem, and for most of us, it’s a source of frustration. Not only is food more expensive these days, but according to, “About 6%-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food. In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.” While composting food is a great way to help eliminate greenhouse gases, we don’t want to be throwing money down the drain every week–so re-organizing our refrigerators is a great place to start. Here are some of our favorite unconventional ways to organize a refrigerator to prevent food waste.

Forgo the crisper drawer

The crisper drawer was designed with the best intentions, and if we lived in a perfect world, we’d get through all the fruit and produce we keep in these drawers in a timely fashion, never having to discover spinach that’s gone soggy or that cucumber that’s gone a little…fuzzy. However, we live in a world that’s increasingly more hectic and dinner hours that are short on time, and this can result in crisper drawers full of waning fruits and veggies. To prevent food waste in your crisper drawers, why not rearrange what you see when you open your refrigerator? According to, moving your condiments into the crisper drawers and putting your leafy greens on the doors may feel radical, but it can go a long way in helping you forget about what you’ve jammed into those drawers. Lining up your produce on the doors and in the middle shelf of the fridge–directly in your line of sight–may help remind you of what you have and what needs eating first. And that can help cut way back on food that would otherwise go bad and need to be tossed out.

Create dedicated shelves, and label them

Creating dedicated shelves in your refrigerator is also helpful in preventing food waste. Rather than hunting and pecking through your refrigerator to find the rice and beans you made over the weekend, choosing to make your top shelf the place where leftovers go can make it easier to find them in no time–for you or anyone else in your house who is looking for food in a hurry. And labeling your shelves, both in the center of the refrigerator and on the doors, can make putting away groceries (and finding them again!) a breeze, especially as you and your family acclimate to the new order of things.

Help your produce last longer

Something as simple as putting a paper towel in with your greens can help them last longer and help prevent food waste, suggests “As soon as you buy a new package of greens — whether it’s prewashed in a plastic bag from the grocery store or from the farmer’s market — add a paper towel to the bag to absorb any moisture and protect the produce from going limp.”

Make a list in real time

Last but not least, one of the best things you can do to help organize your refrigerator and prevent food waste is to update your grocery shopping list in real time. Whether you use the Notes app on your phone, your smart refrigerator, or an old fashioned piece of paper and a pen, writing down what you run out of when you run out of it can help prevent duplicates when you shop, which can also help eliminate food waste.

With just a few small tweaks in your everyday lifestyle, you can save money and help the environment by reducing food waste. A win-win, if ever there was one!


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