Thanksgiving is already here, making it a perfect time to clean out and organize your fridge. Getting your fridge clean and organized before the big meal means more room for the turkey, side dishes, and all the leftovers.

Let’s take a look at how following the EMEND Method can help you achieve an organized fridge.

Explore: Make Room for a Turkey

Before the holiday meal, you’ll have lots of groceries to make room for, while after the meal, you’ll need room for all of the leftovers. The first step is to figure out what is working. What is not working? For example, maybe you’re always finding food that you forgot about hidden in the back of the fridge. Perhaps you always have to toss expired fruit before anyone has even touched it.

If you always know where the milk is, keep that the way it is. Never change what is working for you — fix what isn’t working.

Merge: Group Like Items together

Pull everything out start sorting the items.

There’s no right answer on how you’d like to group items together. You could make a group for cheese and a group for meats, or maybe there’s a group for things you pack in lunches. Other examples of groups include: dairy, fruits, vegetables, drinks, leftovers, salad dressings,
sauces, or various kinds of yogurt.

If you’re cleaning out your fridge specifically for the holiday, you might consider grouping items for what they’re being used for. Such as putting all of the turkey fixings together and all of the items to make pie together.

Edit: What Can You Toss?

This step is the easiest for many: throw out what’s expired or moldy. Make note of any duplicate items (if you’ve got six bottles of open ketchup) or items that seem like they’ve been forgotten in the back. It’s important to note these items, because you end up wasting money when you buy duplicates or when fresh food goes bad before it gets eaten.

If your diet has recently changed, this is the step where you would toss the foods that doesn’t meet your dietary needs.

Nest: Place the Groups Back in the Fridge

Think of your fridge in terms of zones so you can keep like items together. Many fridges have a drawer for fruits and a drawer for vegetables, a meat and cheese drawer, and a place to put your butter and the carton of eggs. Look at the natural structure of your fridge and use it to your advantage.

Divide up a meat & cheese drawer with containers.

If needed, you can also get containers for your fridge shelves, which can help prevent items from getting lost in the back of the fridge. Containers also help keep your fridge clean. If something spills inside the container, it’s easy to rinse out. People often think adding containers in the fridge will take up extra space or that the space in the back of the fridge won’t get used. Instead, you can use that space for your extra items.

For example, in the container you might put current jars of peanut butter and jelly, but they’re almost empty. So, you got to the store and buy fresh jars, and place those behind the container so they’re visible and ready when you run out of what you currently have. You can also put containers inside drawers to divide up the space in a way that works for you.

Containers can organize shelf space & keep shelves clean.

For example, you might put containers in the meat and cheese drawer so you can separate the meat and cheese. You can also use a Lazy Suzan in a fridge if you need to take advantage of more space on the shelf. It all depends on what you have and how you want to use your space.

A Lazy suzan can be used in the fridge for optimal storage.

There are several organizing products marketed for fridge use, such as a set of drawers that you’d put on one of the shelves in your fridge. These can be useful for small items such as individual yogurts, jello, pudding, apple sauce, etc. The set of drawers can help maximize the
vertical height in your fridge that often gets lost.

Develop: Establishing New Habits

In this step, you’re making sure things stay in their zone. If you got containers, maintain the
system. Label your fridge zones, if necessary.

Maybe you use your new system to make your grocery list so you know what you’re running out of and what you don’t need to get. Or, you could make it a new habit to clean out your fridge before you go shopping.

Cleaning out and organizing your fridge means you can see what you’ve got at any point in the year. For the holiday season, it also means you have room for leftovers and items that guests may bring.