Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dollar Store Fridge/Freezer Organization

I don't know about anyone else but I am constantly searching for new ways to organize my house.  I don't just mean your typical organizing spots like linen closets or underneath the bathroom sinks. I'm talking under the beds, bookshelves, dresser drawers, and pretty much every space in my home. Where there's a will there's a fit a basket.  Isn't that the way the quote goes? No?…

The latest spot that I tackled on my quest of being 'most organized nut job' is the dreaded refrigerator and freezer.  These are two areas that for some reason seem to clutter up extremely fast.  I do it all the time.  I need some milk and butter for the macaroni and cheese.  I take it out of the fridge, use it, and instead of putting it back into the two empty spots that they CLEARLY came from, I move other crap around and stuff it back in.  Why? WHY do I do these things?  The world may never know.

I knew it was time for a change.  So I went to Pinterest and started my search.  The more pictures I came across the more discouraged I felt.  How in the world was I going to make my fridge look all pretty like these pictures and not spend my life savings making it happen. Not only did I want to save money but I wanted it to be functional.  Yeah, those clear glass containers with labels looked all cute.  But my kids would open the door, move one out of the way to grab a pudding cup, and I'd be spending my days sweeping up broken glass.  Sometimes function is more important than beauty.  And this was one of those instances.  So I began to turn those little wheels in my head.  I needed a new system.  One that would make a new "home" for everything and be easy enough to have everything accessible to me.  That wasn't the hard part.  Making sure I didn't give my husband a heart attack when looking at the bank statement seeing I spent hundreds of dollars on organizing products was the difficult task that lied ahead of me.  So where does one go when you need a whole ton of stuff and want to keep those dolla' bills in your wallet? Yup. You guessed correctly.  The Dollar Tree.  I guess it's a little misleading to say I bought everything at 'The Dollar Tree' when actually I purchased some of my stuff at The Dollar General.  There's a big difference!  One is actually a dollar store where everything is one dollar.  Then the other one should be called 'The Three to Ten Dollar General".  I guess that name is too long,  Maybe that's why they decided not to use it? I don't know.  Moving on.  All the baskets I bought for my fridge were around $3.  The freezer baskets I actually did purchase from The Dollar Tree for $1.  I needed four for the size of my freezer. And I needed three baskets for my refrigerator.  I didn't want to do anymore than that.  My fridge is a little on the smaller side and I didn't want my fridge to scream "HEY LOOK AT ALL THESE BASKETS" when someone opened the fridge door.  So three was good for me.  Now lets get out those calculators and tally up these numbers shall we?  The total cost to organize my fridge and freezer was $16.  Seriously?  I spend more than that on just a normal day in Target "just browsing".  So this system worked for me and the price worked for the hubby.  Now that's what I call a win/win.

Lets get started!

You'll Need:
  • Baskets
  • Labels
If you'd like to use my labels you can download them below:

-Fridge Sheet 1 Click Here
-Fridge Sheet 2 Click Here

 First things first.  I had to remove everything out of my fridge and freezer and wipe everything down.  This is the perfect time to go through all condiments and food and throw everything away that has expired.  You'll be surprised how many times you actually do this.  I found a dressing in my fridge that was expired for 8 months.  I'm not proud.

We can start with the door because it holds the most items in your refrigerator and it's the easiest part to organize.  It's basically just grouping together like items and labeling each shelf.

The top shelf holds all of our condiments and to the left I have a little container that holds packets of duck sauce, taco sauce, and other little packets we get from restaurants.  I'm still trying to figure out when I became my parents?

The middle shelf holds dips, spreads, sauces, and grated cheeses on the left side and dressings on the right side.  

The bottom shelf is really a misc. shelf that holds stuff that is either too big to fit elsewhere or didn't really "fit" into a category.  I'm still trying to find a home for all these things.  I despise the word "miscellaneous".  To me, it means a bunch of stuff I don't know what to do with.  And that just doesn't fly with me!

Next we move on to the main part of the fridge.  

This is where the baskets come into play.  I divided everything into "categories".  The top shelf holds the basket that is for our 'Butter/Spreads'.  This basket holds…well, butter and spreads.  And also things like sour cream, cottage cheese, creams, etc.)

There's also my greek yogurt in there somewhere, too. This way it doesn't get mixed up with the kids' yogurt in their 'lunch basket'.  We'll get to that in a minute.  

To the right of this basket holds a ceramic egg holder and behind that is where we store our leftovers.

Next shelf we have the KID SHELF.  This is all things pertaining to what the kids like to snack on and things I need to pack in their lunches on a daily basis.  The basket on the right in the 'Juice Box' basket. I buy the giant box of juice barrels and this one basket fits all but four.  So I hide the loose ones behind the basket.
I store my juice barrels upside down so I can see which color I'm grabbing.  Just makes your lunch making life a little easier when you have kids telling you they do NOT want the blue one again tomorrow.

On the right side is the basket that holds all of their lunch box items.  When making their school lunches, I just pull this basket out and grab as I go.  It makes lunch prep a lot easier.

    The bottom shelf of the refrigerator is for beverages like milk, sweet tea, water, and whatever else I may have at the time.  I believe the coldest part of the fridge is the bottom shelf.  But I actually googled it.  And that was a disaster.  Try it.  See if you can find an answer.  I found hundreds of answers, each one different! It aggravated me so I just think the bottom is the coldest.  Plus it's where all my big stuff fits the best.  So that's what pretty much gave me my answer.  On the left side I always keep my big containers that hold all my vegetable and fruit preps for the week.  Behind them I store bags of potatoes too if my vegetable drawer is full.  And it's home to the oh so annoying celery bag.  I usually cut my celery and store in a container for easy snacking, but this picture was taken after I grocery shopped.  I haven't gotten around to it yet.  Gimmie a break, would ya!  One thing at a time. 
The bottom drawers are obvious.  Veggies on the left.  Fruits on the right.  I also line my drawers with paper towels.  Makes clean up easier.  And I also place onions in a container in the drawer so I don't have to clean out those gross onion skins or peels every few days.  

And that's it.  It's cheap and it's functional. And I think it looks pretty cute and it stays clean.  And also I find that there's always a ton of room.  It doesn't look like I have that much stuff in my fridge, but I actually do.  The baskets contain so much stuff that it gives you more room. Which is really important.  You don't have to spend a lot of money on fancy organizing products that are made specifically for the refrigerator. All you need to do is take a trip to your local dollar store and put your thinking cap on.  You're bound to come up with something!  

…… Now lets move on to the freezer, shall we?

Freezer Organization

This is pretty much the exact same thing as above.  Empty, wipe down, categorize your food, add a label to the baskets and that's it.  

  As you can see, I made a basket for meats (which store bacon, chicken, chop meat, chicken nuggets, wings…whatever meat I currently have on hand.)  The second basket holds breakfast items.  Bagels, sausage, pancakes…you get the picture.  I also empty everything out of big bulky boxes and put things right into the baskets.  The two bottom baskets are both for vegetables.  I pretty much make a veggie with every meal so all my bags wouldn't fit into one basket.  I also divide those baskets by store bought and home prepared vegetables.  What I mean by that is the basket on the left has all the vegetables that I buy, chop, and freeze myself.  While the other one has steam fresh vegetables or regular frozen veggies.

I like this system in the freezer because it looks so open and clean.  I used to have piles of food where I couldn't find anything I needed.  Plus, there's extra room in the middle of these baskets to put things like ice pops, ice trays, ice cream cartons, and different things that don't really fit anywhere else.  As far as the door of my freezer, I just use it to store coffee, butter, ice packs, and other random things.  Nothing exciting enough for a picture, believe me. Also, I do have another freezer in my garage so it's a little easier to keep this one organized.

Every refrigerator and freezer is different.  We all have different sizes, brands, and models.  My fridge can fit three baskets but someone else's might be able to only fit two or maybe some one's can fit six.  While this exact system may not work in your fridge, anyone can tweak it a little to make it work for them.  Same thing goes with the freezer.  You might have a side by side.  Less or more shelving.  Whatever you have, this can be customized to how you want it and what your appliances will allow you to fit.  

So there you have it.  Easy and affordable organization that anyone can do.  Now quit wasting time and get to that dollar store.  Your fridge AND your hubby will thank you!

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