Most of us have a small kitchen. I actually have a pretty tiny kitchen space by American standards. Yet, I still have ample space to fit everything I need to live a homestead life. I aim to share the best small kitchen fridge ideas to help you organize and maintain your small fridge.
To be clear, I am talking about a smaller fridge, not a dorm fridge, wine fridge or other compact refrigerators. Just the average American single door fridge.
Disclaimer: My refrigerator is never this clean or this empty. I specifically cleaned it for this post and I am about to leave town. Hopefully these tips will still prove useful! Just because your fridge doesn’t always look sparkling doesn’t mean that it can’t function for you. These small kitchen fridge ideas are meant to help you make the most of the space you have.
This article covers the fridge portion only. Let me know in the comments if you want me to make a part 2 with small freezer space ideas!
I did want to leave my kids’ art on the front of the fridge though because I am trying to show you real life on The Homestead Challenge. I honestly prefer the character they’ve added instead of seeing a sea of the color white.
How do you organize a small kitchen fridge?
There are honestly only so many trips to the container store and so many Pinterest ideas you can use to deal with a lack of space. In this post, I am hoping to teach you small kitchen fridge ideas to help you make the most of the space you have and create habits to keep it functional for your family.
In smaller homes, each space must pack a huge impact. No space in your small kitchen fridge can go to waste. With limited space, you have to get creative. That doesn’t mean that you always have to risk form over function.
My personal style is a little bit more “crunchy” and comfortable. If this isn’t your style, that’s okay! These ten tips will still work for you using your own personal aesthetic.
Here are 10 aesthetically pleasing and sustainable Small Kitchen Fridge Ideas to help you make the most of your tiny space
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1. You must clean before you can organize
First thing before we begin, you must clean out your fridge and get rid of expired foods.
If you are looking for a natural cleaning supply to use for this task, check out how to make three all natural cleaning supplies to get started.
Next, MOVE YOUR SHELVES! Did you know you can adjust the height of all the shelves in your fridge. Yes, even the door ones.
Once they are all out for cleaning anyways, take this time to truly imagine the function that will work best for your family. Little hands always looking for snacks? Make them a “yes” space where they can grab whatever they want. Do you frequently buy a super tall or odd-shaped item? Find a home for it now so it won’t be such a burden in the fridge.
2. Transfer your milk
As a homesteader, I started transferring my milk into mason jars with a pitcher top so I can scoop the cream off the top. I later found that by transferring each gallon into two half-gallon mason jars, I created a better flow in the fridge. You can keep the one you are not currently using all the way in the back and have the smaller half-gallon easy to access up front or even in the door.
3. Store fruit in tall mason jars
Make the most of vertical space. Fruit packaging can be bulky. By taking care of your fruit, preparing it, and transferring it right when you get home from the grocery store will lead to more room in your fridge and less waste.
You may have seen the viral strawberries in a mason jar hack. This hack works for other fruits as well! Simply wash and completely dry your fruit, put a piece of paper towel in the bottom of your jar, and add the fruit.
Advance food preparation will prolong the life of your fruit and having it already prepared will increase the chances of you actually eating it. My favorite jars are the tall skinny mason jars. These allow for more use of vertical space.
4. Pack the doors fully
Americans are condiment-obsessed. Myself included. Condiments belong in the door (I’ll fight you on this). It is the perfect place because it is shallow enough so you do not forget about any items and you can adjust the shelves to organize perfectly by size.
Storing condiments in the door also makes it easy to access when your toddler demands more ketchup (speaking from experience).
For this post, I wanted to find a really unique way to organize the doors.
Here’s what I have found: Don’t overthink it! The shelves are already organized enough. Adding any more containers will just make it overorganized to the point where it won’t function for you. The point of these small kitchen fridge ideas is that the function lasts.
5. Catch the drips
Have you ever forgotten you defrosted meat and left it in the back of the fridge? Yeah. Me too! Ours is so low I can’t always bend down to see back there. After a recent juicy meat defrost incident in my fridge, I decided something had to change!
I went to the thrift store to find my solution, but you might already have it right in your kitchen! I purchased a very small baking pan that is now my meat defrost station in the refrigerator.
We buy our meat in bulk, so at the beginning of each week, I take the meat out for the week and place it on the tray. The little lip contains any juices that may spill and makes it so much easier to clean up any leaks.
You could also opt for a decorative plastic tray. Use whatever you can find that has enough space for the meat, but doesn’t take up too much room and is easily wipeable.
6. Thrift all the baskets
I have to push my agenda here. You do not need to go out and purchase a bunch of new plastic to organize your fridge.
Whether actual baskets or clear storage is more your thing, the thrift store has it all. Even better, you might already have some of these items in your house. Declutter a few storage cabinets and see what you can come up with!
I personally really enjoy the look of baskets inside the fridge. It helps warm up the space and actually makes me smile a little each time I open the fridge door. Choose any theme or color palette that will make you smile when you open the refrigerator.
7. Actually learn how to use the crisper drawers
I hate to tell you, but those drawers are not solely for storage purposes! They actually have a specific use. I kind of wish I had more random drawers though instead of all of that open shelving. Imagine… TWO cheese drawers.
Learning proper food storage is a great way to save space, save money, and reduce food waste. Crisper drawers are spaces with higher humidity than the rest of the fridge.
If your drawer doesn’t have controls, it is simply a high-humidity drawer. If yours does have controls, it will have a slider to change the vent opening from low humidity to high humidity.
The high-humidity drawer is for thick-skinned veggies and leafy greens (things that are likely to wilt).
The low humidity drawer is mainly for fruits like apples, pears, avocados, and anything else that produces ethylene gas when ripening. You will want to keep these foods away from the others as the gas can cause other foods in the fridge to rot faster.
I want to note here that I do something kind of weird! I store my onions in the fridge. I understand this is a big no-no. The internet tells me that this will make them rot faster, but that has not been my experience. I think my mama always did this because we had no other space, and I just followed suit. It also makes me cry less when I cut them. So anyways, do as I say and not as I do. Store your apples, avocados, and other stone fruits in the low-humidity drawer. Not onions.
8. Take food out of original packaging
Taking food out of the original packaging saves space of course, but my favorite reason to rid the packaging is getting rid of visual clutter. We don’t realize how many words and ads are jumping out at us all day long. Freeing our visual space in the fridge creates more harmony on the eye and brings your attention back to the food itself rather than the packaging.
When we can actually see all of the beautiful naturally colored food, we will be more enticed to eat and less likely to forget it.
9. Meal plan
I recommend monthly meal planning in order to save the most money and time when it comes to grocery shopping. You can check out my free monthly meal plan template to learn more about how I meal plan.
The goal of meal planning is to both shop and order take-out less. This does mean that once you do shop, your fridge will be incredibly full at first. Then it will slowly dwindle to what you see in mine in these photos.
When planning meals, you might buy items that are multi-use for you that month. This hopefully means less random specialty ingredients taking up space.
10. Have a leftover station
Always keep one specific spot for leftovers. Never change it. Mine is the space under my cheese drawer. This is an easy way to actually remember to eat your leftovers instead of letting them go to waste.
The most important way to maintain a small kitchen fridge is to declutter regularly
Taking inventory of your fridge is one of the best small kitchen fridge ideas you can do to maintain this system for your family.
The best day to declutter is right before trash day. Of course, I would hope that you have no wasted produce (and you compost anything starting to go bad) and that you’d always eat your leftovers. But this is real life. You will probably need to throw out something creepy from time to time.
Each week before trash day, do a quick sweep, wipe, and inventory of the fridge. You can get rid of what you need to and find out what you need to use ASAP before it goes bad. Instilling this habit will also help your family members maintain this new system.
Small Kitchen Fridge Idea FAQs
What are some other ways to reduce food waste?
Food waste is one of the top 10 leading causes of climate change. By using the tactics above, we can set our homes up for success. However, there is still more we can do!
- Compost: On those (hopefully rare) occasions that you find some wilting or less-than-desirable foods hiding in the fridge, compost them! It is not a total waste if they are composted in order to put nutrients back into your gardening soil.
- Shop your pantry: When meal planning, shop your pantry first! When you have a few random ingredients left in your fridge and pantry, you can get pretty creative and might just find your new favorite recipe! Check out MyFridgeFood.Com where you can select the ingredients you have on hand and it will give you recipe ideas!
- Buy foods locally: Buying foods locally reduces the carbon emissions in the transportation and refrigeration of your food. It also allows you to check out the source to know that your food is grown organically and sustainably.
Where do you put a fridge in a small kitchen?
First of all, you don’t want the fridge to be the focal point of the kitchen. Try to have it somewhere more discreet so a beautiful range or sink can steal the show.
If you have to put it front and center, closed cabinetry is the way to go! You can panel the front of your fridge so it fits in with the rest of your cabinets.
Built-in refrigerators are ideal, but not always possible. If you have to have your fridge float somewhere, try to make it look purposeful by putting other large items around it (a side table, more cabinets, or a coffee station).
What to put on the top of the small Kitchen fridge?
What an awkward storage space! Whether you have a weird small cabinet or just an open space, the top of the fridge is like an abyss and you can’t reach anything.
I chose to have our microwave up there. Weird choice. But we do not use it a ton and this saved us so much counter space in our tiny kitchen! However, if you are short this could be dangerous as you pull hot food down from above your head.
I still had space above the microwave, so we installed a shelf for décor and cookbooks. I only recommend this if you have a more “maximalist” style like myself!
I hope these small kitchen fridge ideas will stick with you and you can use one or two to transform how you use your small space!
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About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!