What to Do When Your Groceries Don’t Fit in the Refrigerator

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We have fixed a lot of refrigerator problems. We’ve fixed condensers and fans, seals, and door handle. We’ve leveled feet and changed filters. But there’s one refrigerator problem that is too personal for anyone to fix but the residents: whether your fridge fits your groceries. Most refrigerators come with the house and they come pre-configured to fit most types of grocery orders. Trouble begins if you inherit a fridge or make a change where your tallest or widest or heaviest items have no place to go.

If there isn’t any proper room for your groceries in the fridge (and not just because it’s over-full) then we can help as your local refrigerator experts. Let’s talk about how refrigerator shelves work and how to rearrange them for your needs. 

Redesign Your Refrigerator Shelves

The first step is to realize that you can change the arrangement of your refrigerator shelves. If you look at the inside walls of the fridge, you will likely see a vertical track of holes, four in all along both the right and left inner walls. These tracks of holes are for the shelves to lock into at various heights. You can arrange the refrigerator shelves any way that you need, but some arrangements are better than others. 

– How to Remove and Replace a Refrigerator Shelf

Refrigerator shelves tend to have a swivel-lift mechanism. This means that you will need to lift the shelf like it is hinged before the hooking tabs come loose from the holes. Some refrigerator shelves slide out. The maneuver for theses is to slide the shelf forward (toward you) then lift like a hinge and lift the shelf away. Your shelf might be secured with a single screw or a small locking tab to keep the shelves from sliding out while in use.

– How to Remove and Replace a Refrigerator Drawer

Refrigerator drawers are often locked in with a tab or latching mechanism to keep the drawers from coming out. Find this latch, often in the underside of the drawer track, and press it. Then pull the drawer all the way out. When you reach the end, if the drawer catches, lift the front end until the bottom track releases and the drawer lifts away. 

Create a Tall Shelf for Tall Items

The biggest challenge is fitting your tallest items. This is usually gallons of milk or possibly bottles of juice or wine. You will need to decide how tall your tallest shelf-space needs to be. Often, it’s best to make your tallest shelf also the lowest shelf. This ensures support and stability for your tall and heaviest items.

– Measure With Your Tallest Items

First figure out what your tallest item in the fridge will be. Find your beverage bottle or possibly a food box that needs the most space. Use this as your unit of measurement. This ensures that you never have that frustrating feeling of unloading the groceries only for your favorite drinks to not fit in the shelf.

– Space for Smaller Shelves

You should also identify your next largest size to help space your smaller-spaced shelves. It’s important that your smaller shelves also fit the needs of your groceries, so put some thought into their spacing as well. 

Consider Food Safety Organization

Not everyone knows this, but there are best practices for loading your fridge. Food safety rules used in restaurants and commercial kitchens help to prevent accidental cross-contamination or rot in forgotten leftovers. Consider these rules when building a new organization for your fridge.

– Raw Meat on Lowest Shelf

Raw meat is dangerous if it leaks. This is why it’s best to store any raw meat in your fridge on the lowest shelf. If nothing is below the meat, nothing can be contaminated if a package of steak or chicken leaks onto the shelf below.

– Cooked Food on Highest Shelves

Likewise, place, ready-to-eat foods on the highest shelves where they are least likely to be contaminated. Make sure your top shelf has enough room for a layer or two of tupperware filled with meal-ready leftovers. Any produce or food items you eat raw can go on the top shelf as well.

– Produce in Crisper Drawers

For produce you are using as an ingredient, fill the crisper drawer. These drawers are intended to control humidity to help your fruits and vegetables last longer. Keep your produce fresh by storing it inside the grocery produce bags and in the crisper drawer where it is both safe and well-kept. 

Make Use of the Refrigerator Door Shelves

Then there’s stocking your refrigerator door correctly. You might be surprised to learn how important this choice is for the functioning of your fridge. Most vitally, don’t stock your fridge door too heavily. If the door sags, it won’t seal correctly.

– Don’t Over-Stock with Condiments

The fridge door is often stuffed with condiments, sometimes cluttered with half-empty bottles that are rarely used. Keep your condiment collection tidy and your fridge door will be much more useful for organization.

– Tall Lightweight Items

Another strategy is to put tall, light or small items into the door instead of fitting them into the lowest shelf. One bottle of wine, a tall bottle of lemon, or a jar of pasta sauce are all good candidates for tall door items. 

Take the Opportunity to Clean

When you’re rearranging the shelves of your refrigerator, take a moment to wipe them down. Fridge shelves are rarely given a 360-degree cleaning because the backs and undersides are hard to reach. Now is the perfect time to wipe and scrub your fridge shelves until you’d be confident eating off of them. The same goes for your deli and produce drawers, as well.

—A refrigerator that doesn’t fit your groceries can be easily solved if you define your goals. Know your tallest bottles and the approximate useful size of your shorter shelves. Know how your refrigerator shelves work and lock them back into place when you’ve chosen a new level. Last but not least, make sure the door closes when you’ve placed your new shelf arrangement, you may need to change how the door shelves align.

For more great appliance care and maintenance, contact us today!

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