The key to an organized refrigerator is to ensure easy access to foods when they’re at their peak of flavor and freshness. Look at your fridge’s manual to find the areas with the coolest temperatures then use this shelf-by-shelf guide to save time and space. You’ll not only have healthier food, but your leftovers may also last longer.

On the Coldest Shelf 
Store items that typically spoil quickly, such as dairy, eggs, meats, and fish. The coldest shelf is the one closest to your fridge’s freezer.

How long do these items usually last? Milk keeps for five days after opening and eggs about three weeks, unless the use-by date is earlier. Eat fresh fish the day of purchase, and meat within two days. 

On the Middle Shelf
Use this area for foods 
that require quick reheating, such as leftovers, because it’s easily accessible to all family members. This is also a good spot for nonleafy veggies and fresh fruit because too cold of temperatures are likely to damage them.

How long do these items usually last?  Hard-boiled eggs will keep for seven days and most leftovers are safe for only three. If you’re not sure, toss it out.

In the Vegetable Crisper
The high humidity in this bottom drawer preserves the water content of thick-skinned veggies, such as leafy greens, peppers, and broccoli, thereby reducing wilting.

How long do these items usually last?  One week

In the Second Drawer
Often called the meat and cheese drawer, deli meats, bacon, and hard cheeses go here.

How long do these items usually last?  Unopened meats will keep until the manufacturer’s use-by date, but fresh-cut, tightly sealed deli meats stay good for just three to five days. Tightly wrapped hard cheeses can keep up to three weeks.

On the Door
This is the place for condiments, pickles, and acidic foods, which resist bacterial growth. Never keep highly perishable foods here; warmer air hits them when the door opens.

How long do these items usually last? Most condiments keep for about six months or you can use the manufacturer’s use-by date as a guide.

In the Freezer
Wrap foods in two layers of plastic to avoid air exposure, which causes freezer burn. 

How long do these items usually last? 
Wrapped well, cooked meats last one to two months; uncooked up to one year; butter and cheese six to nine months; and vegetables eight to 10 months.