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Christmas Gift Guide

​Use baskets

Remove clutter

​Line your crisper

Unbag it

​Start a one-bottle rule

No plates

Cups, too

​Designate shelves

​Stop drips and spills

​Make an egg carton organizer

Or use a six-packer

​Bag it up

​Use binder clips

Keep cool


Make milk last

Throw out leftovers

Tracking leftovers

Round up your gear

Move the meats

Tired of your fridge being a messy den of unidentifiable leftovers, condiment containers and spills that someone forgot to clean up? These tips will keep the fridge organized and food fresher, longer.

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Hit up your local dollar store for inexpensive, brightly colored baskets. Small plastic baskets can round up small items, bottles that tend to fall over, eggs or items stored in plastic bags.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

Chances are, there are a bunch of things in your fridge that don't need to be there. In fact, there are around 20 common items -- like potatoes -- that people keep in their fridge that don't need refrigeration. Move these items to your cabinets.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

I always line my vegetable crispers with paper towels or newspapers. The reason is two-fold. First, they soak up any juices that may come off of fruits and vegies, making cleaning the drawers a breeze. I just throw out the liner and put in a new one. Second, the liner absorbs any extra moisture, making my produce last longer.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

Also, don't leave fruits and vegetables in their plastic grocery bags. This will make them spoil faster. Put them in an open mesh, plastic organizing basket or just leave them loose in the crisper drawer.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

To keep down clutter, enforce a "one bottle" rule. For example, only one bottle of salad dressing, mustard, mayo and ketchup is allowed in the fridge at once. Your extra, unopened bottles can be stored in the pantry with no worry and you'll save a lot of space in your fridge.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

While you're at it, make a no-plate rule, too. From now on, everything that goes into the fridge needs to be in proper storage containers with lids. This will reduce spills in the fridge and nix moldy plates of umm-what-is-this-mess grossness.

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Ditto for cups. If I had a dollar for every time my kids put a cup in the fridge that got knocked over and became a sticky mess I'd be a pretty rich lady. Just say no to cups in the fridge.

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Remember the mantra, "A place for everything and everything in its place," from when you were a kid? The easiest way to organize your fridge is to designate a certain type of food to each shelf. When a food is put away it gets put in its place, eliminating search time and making your fridge neater. To keep track, use a dry erase marker to write the type of food on the lip of the shelf.

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If bending over and wiping out your refrigerator shelves rates low on your list of fun things to do, then line your shelves with plastic place mats. When a spill happens, all you need to do is remove the mats and rinse them in the sink.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

The next time you use up a 12-pack of eggs, cut off the top and put the bottom in your fridge's door shelf. The egg cubbyholes are perfect for storing squeeze bottles upside down. The bottles are organized and their contents are always ready for squirting.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford

A six-pack box left over from your favorite bottled beverages works, too.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

If the meat you buy at the grocery store doesn't go straight into the freezer, leave it in its plastic grocery bag when you put it in the fridge. This will ensure that any leaking juices will be caught in the bag, nixing the need for cleanup.

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Take some binder clips from the office and put them to work in the kitchen. My family usually accidentally tears off self-zipping bag closures on grated cheeses and such, so I use binder clips to clip bags closed, preventing spills. You can also use a binder clip to prevent stacked wine bottles and beer bottles from rolling around. Just clip it to the shelf (if you have rack-style shelving) and stick the metal ends up to block any rolling bottles.

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Chances are, the items in your fridge aren't where they need to be. Some areas of your fridge are colder than others, making them better suited for certain foods. For example, the door is a good place for ketchup, hot sauce and other condiments that don't grow bacteria rapidly, but not other items.

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The temperature of the the door area fluctuates a lot because of it opening and closing. That makes it a bad location for eggs, meats, milk or other items that are easily perishable, according to the USDA. Store these items on the inner shelves of the fridge to keep them fresher, longer.

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You can also make milk last longer if you move it to a bottom shelf. Bottom shelves tend to stay cooler than the top shelf, according to Consumer Reports.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

You should be throwing out leftovers on a regular basis. Not, just to keep your fridge organized, but also to prevent illness. The USDA recommends tossing cooked leftovers after four days.

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Have you ever peered into a container of leftovers and wondered if you should throw it out? Wonder no more. Keep a dry erase board on your fridge and every time you put leftovers in your fridge write down the type of leftover and the date on your board. Now you'll know exactly how old a leftover is with just a glance.

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Corral your dry erase marker, the pen you use to label leftovers and other small kitchen tools with a magnetic locker organizer. Just stick it to your fridge door.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET

When you're giving leftovers the boot, check your meats. Raw poultry and ground meats should only stay in the fridge one to two days. After that, move them to the freezer.

Caption by / Photo by Alina Bradford/CNET
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