How to arrange food in the refrigerator: useful tips to arrange them correctly

Each food has a precise location inside the refrigerator; high, central, low shelf, drawers and side doors. In each of these areas it is possible to arrange our foods following a specific criterion, so as to preserve them at their best. So let's find out how to arrange eggs, cheeses, meat, fish, milk, butter and much more in the refrigerator.

By Cookist

Do you know how to arrange food in the refrigerator? Each food must have a precise location in order to be preserved in the best possible way. The refrigerator is in fact divided into shelves and compartments and also the temperature is automatically diversified, according to the different areas, so as to guarantee the good preservation of the food. So where to put the eggs, cheeses, meat, fish, vegetables, butter and milk? Let's find out how to place the different foods inside the refrigerator, to store them properly.

What is cross-contamination


Cross contamination is the direct or indirect passage of pathogenic microbes from contaminated foods to other foods; it is one of the main causes of food poisoning. Raw foods such as red or white meat, eggs or vegetables can in fact contain small amounts of microbes; the contact of this type of food with foods that are eaten raw can however lead to the growth of microbes and as a consequence to ingestion. Some rules to keep in mind before storing food in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination:

  • avoid contact and dripping between raw and cooked products, placing the cooked ones on top, tightly closed in airtight containers, and the raw ones below;
  • absolutely avoid putting cooked meat next to raw meat;
  • never put hot food in the refrigerator;
  • separate raw chicken meat, to be kept in a container, from other types of meat or raw food; it is in fact the most susceptible meat to contamination.

Foods that don't go into the refrigerator and meat


Furthermore, some foods do not need to be stored in the refrigerator and could also suffer negative consequences in terms of flavor, healthiness and/or properties. For example, exotic fruit, citrus fruits (the cold can make them bitter), tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and potatoes. Fruits and vegetables that have yet to ripen must be stored at room temperature, while bread becomes stale faster in low temperatures.

As with beef, if a few hours pass from purchase to arrival at home, it is better to close the chicken in a cooler bag or in a frozen food bag. And, before putting it in the refrigerator, on the lower shelf, it is necessary to remove the original wrapping and close it in a suitable plastic bag, to avoid possible contamination with other foods; so much so that the law requires butchers, supermarkets and restaurants to store poultry in a separate refrigerator.

If you have any doubts about this, consult the vademecum of the Ministry of Health.

What is the perfect refrigerator temperature


The refrigerator should have an internal temperature of 4-5° in the central area, with a variable thermal condition according to the different areas, between 2° and 10°. The lower part of the refrigerator is always the coldest, the side part, therefore the shelves on the door, is the hottest area, while in the central part the temperature is constant. The foods must therefore be placed in the compartments according to their specific storage needs. But let's find out more.

How to properly arrange food in the refrigerator

Now let's see where to put the different foods in the refrigerator, dividing it into sections, so as to preserve each food at its best; from the high shelf to the drawers. But here is the division by shelves.

High shelf

The top shelf of the refrigerator is the least cold one, in fact the cold tends to go downwards. In this area the temperature can vary from 5° to 8°, ideal for storing cheeses, vacuum-packed cold cuts, yogurt, cooked foods, closed or open tins. Eggs should also be stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator, inside their package, or you can store them in the special compartment inside the door.

Medium shelf

The medium shelf has a temperature ranging from 4° to 8°, and it is ideal for storing packs of open cold cuts, minestrone and soups, pasta and cooked meat and various leftovers, including sauces and gravies. You can therefore store in the central shelf all those products that require storage in the refrigerator immediately after opening.


Low shelf

The low shelf is the coldest point of the refrigerator, ranging from 2° to 5°; it is the shelf that is located above the vegetable drawer. It is the right place to store raw meat and chicken and fresh fish, thus preventing them from dripping on other foods. Ideal in general for raw foods.

Side door

The compartments inside the refrigerator door have a temperature between 5° and 10°, and are ideal for storing milk, wine, water, fruit juices, but also butter and sauces. In the refrigerator door can therefore be stored drinks in general, and all those foods that need a light refrigeration.


The drawers positioned in the lower part of the refrigerator have a temperature between 2° and 5° and are reserved for fresh fruit and raw vegetables. Before placing them in the drawers they must be wrapped in absorbent paper or in paper bags for food, so that humidity and condensation do not form, conditions that cause the vegetables to rot quickly. Empty and clean the refrigerator drawers often.

How to arrange food before putting it in the refrigerator


In addition to storing food in the refrigerator on the right shelves, it is also important to store them in the best possible way and tightly closed.

Food leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking, and already portioned in airtight containers. They should then be heated only once on the stove or in the microwave.

Butter should also be stored in airtight containers or in the side door.

Open cured meats must be wrapped in aluminum foil and then placed in airtight containers.

Eggs can be stored in their container at the top of the refrigerator or in the space provided. They should be placed with the tip pointing downwards and never in contact with other foods.

Fruits and vegetables must be cleaned roughly, wrapped in kitchen paper, so as to keep them dry, and placed in the appropriate drawers.

As already mentioned, it is then necessary to avoid contact between raw and cooked products; place the former at the bottom, so as to avoid dripping, and the latter at the top.

How to best use the refrigerator

If you want to take care of the refrigerator and the food, it is important to follow some simple rules.

Do not overfill the refrigerator; in this way the food will not be stored at the right temperature.

Put the foods with the closest expiration date ahead, so you can consume them sooner.

Do not place food on the back wall of the refrigerator and do not cover the racks, so as to allow good air circulation.

It is important to defrost the refrigerator from time to time, using hot water and lemon.

In case of a bad smell in the refrigerator, place in the side door in a jar full of bicarbonate, or use a thick slice of lemon, to be changed once a week.

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