Storage Bins & Ideas for Refrigerators

Do you ever open the deli or crisper drawers in your refrigerator with plans to make a yummy sandwich only to find a yucky mess awaiting you? Maybe on your last visit to the market, you purchased a bag of kale for a green smoothie or some fresh tomatoes in anticipation of a making a healthy salad.

But now, as you peer down into the crisper drawer, you discover the kale has decided to transform itself into a liquid goo and osmosis itself magically right through the walls of the plastic bag that once contained it. It’s now a slimy science experiment in the bottom of the crisper drawer. So instead of that sandwich you had in mind, you spend the next 20 minutes cleaning. Yep, happens to me way too often.

Several times over the past year or so while shopping in Marshalls, I’ve seen these little plastic bins. I’m an admitted organization freak, nothing makes me happier than finding new ways to make anything and everything in my life run just a little bit smoother. A few days ago I opened up my crisper drawer to find gooshey spinach remains collected in the corner of the drawer. Done! Over it! Time to fix this once and for all.

Clear Storage Bins for Shelves or Refrigerator

 

I measured my deli and crisper drawers, jotted the numbers down on a sticky note and headed for Marshalls. As luck (or bad luck) would have it, my drawers were about the exact same size as two of the larger bins. I knew it would be a tight fit so I purchased 4 large bins and two small bins thinking if the large ones worked, I’d put two in each drawer, side-by-side. If the large bins turned out to be too big, I’d use a large and a small bin in each drawer.

I ended up doing both. Apparently the crisper drawer is a teensy bit smaller than the deli drawer. I don’t buy a lot of deli meats or cheese on a regular basis, so I always end up using that drawer for storing other stuff.

Clear Storage Bins for Shelves or Refrigerator

 

Here’s how the top drawer looked with two of the large bins in place. In the future when I buy kale in hard, plastic containers like this, I’ll probably just store it on a shelf in the refrigerator. I’ve never had an issue with one of those leaking. But anytime I purchase spinach or kale in a bag, that’s when it’s definitely going into a bin. How does that stuff find its way out of a plastic bag?!

Refrigerator or Shelf Storage Bins

 

The bottom crisper drawer (shown below) was a teensy bit smaller than the top one. I could just barely wedge two of the large bins in and that was only by off setting them so one was further back in the drawer than the other one. I decided to not push it and risk cracking the bins or the drawer, so I took them back out and went with one large bin and one small bin in the bottom drawer.

Carrots, apples and cucumbers are other sneaky vegetables that cannot be trusted to mind themselves and not “leak” if left unattended. So I’ve corralled them all safely inside bins to hopefully avoid future cleanup sessions. That’s mint stuck down between the two drawers. I’ve never had it leak, so I think it’s safe there.

Clear Storage Bins for Refrigerator or Shelf

 

The bins I purchased at Marshalls were $6.99 each for the large and $5.99 each for the small. In the picture it shows them being used on a shelf and you’ll notice the front wall is shorter or kind of shallow. I actually liked that because I thought it would help make getting things out a little easier. Whenever I’ve had something start to get messy in the fridge, it’s never been enough that it would overflow the front edge of the bin. In the future, it should be a lot easier to lift out and clean the bins than trying to wrangle the big, ornery refrigerator drawers out and back into the fridge.

Clear Storage Bins for Shelves or Refrigerator

 

I probably should have done this before I went shopping, but today I was looking online on Amazon to see what they had. This drawer (Fridge Storage Bin) is the perfect width but I think it’s about a half-inch too long for my drawers. I have a counter depth refrigerator so the shelves and drawers are a little shorter in depth than in a standard refrigerator. I’m tempted to order one to see. I could always use the bins I bought in my pantry if this one did fit. 

Refrigerator Storage Bin

 

This set looks very similar to what I purchased: 4-Piece Fridge Storage Bins

Clear Storage Bins for Refrigerator

I watched the video at the links above and captured this freeze frame. Notice the containers they have for storing the milk and orange juice. Interesting, huh?

aaa

 

I’ve just lately started pouring my milk into this little pitcher I found in HomeGoods. I drink a lot of milk, absolutely love it!  I like pouring it from the pitcher instead of a big milk jug. If you have onions or any smelly foods in your fridge, you wouldn’t want to do this since the milk might pick up the smell/flavors.

I also filled up a pitcher with filtered water from my fridge each morning. My goal is to drink all the water by the end of the day. I’m terrible about remembering to drink water so this helps me remember throughout the day when I open the refrigerator door.

Refrigerator or Shelf Storage Bins

 

Do you use any plastic bins for storing veggies in your fridge? How about glass jars or pitchers for milk or juice? Love to hear your tips and ideas for avoiding clean up sessions and unwanted science experiments in the fridge!

Here are a few more ideas for storage around the house. (Click on the post titles to open that post.)

Ikea Expedit Hack (Making It Fit)

Pjas Baskets for Closet Ikea Expedit

 

Build a Cubby Organizer, Pottery Barn Knock-off

Pottery Barn Cubby Organizer Knock-off

 

Marie’s Fabulous Gift Wrapping Room

Gift-Wrapping Room with Martha Stewart Craft Gift-Wrap Hutch and Cabinet




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Comments

  1. Kathleen says:

    Best thing about transferring milk or juice to ceramic or glass container: it gets SO cold! Ditto with water! Love the storage drawer liners idea. I’ve pulled out those veggie and fruit drawers a zillion times for these 39 years of marriage and children, usually because a hidden cuke or scarey onion has “shared” itself.

    • Kathleen, that is sooo true! I usually just put what I think I’ll drink that day in the pitcher and it’s icy cold when I want it.
      lol I know what you mean. Sometimes the stuff you find is almost unrecognizable! 🙂

  2. Marlene Stephenson says:

    The only thing i ever have a problem with is carrots, and they sometimes get soft in the bag and then i toss them, other stuff i seem to eat. I eat a lot of fresh veg. and salad in summer and frozen the rest of the time.But thanks for the post just in case i have problems and have a great day.

  3. bobbi duncan says:

    Hi, Susan. Great tip. I’ve been doing this for several years now as wrangling with the bulky refrigerator ones is such a pain. Like you, I love having everything organized…looks nicer and so much easier to find things. I don’t store my milk in a container, although it looks real nice, because I always worry about it picking up smells from onions and such. I drink Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond milk, which I’m addicted to, and it has loads of calcium. Have a nice day.

    • Yeah, I don’t store it in the container if I have an onion in the refrigerator, although there are some great suggestions on keeping those under control in the comments on this post. Love all the suggestions! I wish I liked Almond milk. I’ve tried it several times, unsweetened and with Vanilla flavoring added and I just don’t care for it. I know it’s good for you. I do eating almonds, though!

  4. Vicki B says:

    Hey Susan! I LOVE these containers and have many! Use them in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Learn from my mistake, however, and do not run these through the dishwasher, not even the top shelf. I made this unfortunate move and horribly warped a large flat unit and the top to an egg bin. No amount of coercing saw them straight! They otherwise are amazing! Here’s to organizational bliss!

  5. I have a refrigerator lazy Susan for my top self, I have trouble reaching the back of the shelf. In our second fridge we keep a lot of beverages and I use the beverage holders to separate by kind and stack efficiently. Transfer pickles and olives out of round jars to square stackable glass storage containers.
    We live on the water and take wine down to the dock and boat. In the beverage fridge I dedicated one bin to mini bottles of wine. Each summer I just fill it up and replenish as needed. The trays and storage containers help empty that fridge quickly when needed for party food. Then the beverages go into coolers on the back porch. One day I get those porch pictures to you!

  6. Sorry, I have no handy tips for you!! I use a ton of fresh veggies and salad all year long so really don’t have many mishaps as I am in those drawers every day. Am lactose intolerant, use lactaid milk for coffee and occasional bowl of cereal, and I tell ya, that stuff stays fresh for a very long time!! The cold cut/cheese drawer was useless so I removed it. Also the egg holders got removed, prefer to keep them in the carton.

    My BFF removed the crisper drawers alltogether and puts fresh produce in an assortment of tupperware/pyrex/rubbermaid containers…….I may do that myself!!!

  7. My new addiction! I bought them at the Container Store, Home Goods and ordered the set you show for my out of town daughters. There are pieces that are listed specifically for the refrigerator/freezer, I think they might be made of a material that can survive the cold better….or maybe just a marketing ploy?? Do be sure to cover your milk or it will get icky tasting, when I use pitchers I just put a small piece of press-and-seal on top. OH and….don’t miss the egg holder, yeah fridge sanity! Since they’re hard plastic body and “lid” a few things stacked on top the eggs are safe. With my refrigerator every square inch counts!

    • I drink it too fast for to get icky. lol That’s a good idea though…I’ve used saran wrap on tea pitchers in the fridge before. Great tips, Jane!

  8. First let me mention that you should never store tomatoes, papayas or avocadoes in refrigerator unless they are already very ripe or ripening too fast. Also, there is no need to store apples, lemons, oranges, limes, etc…
    You should never store potatoes or onions in fridge…

    My veggie bins seem to be smaller than yours, but I have two crisper drawers and one smaller cheese drawer, so none of those bins would fit in mine.

    I use two three tiered stands on the counter to hold tomatoes, avos, cukes, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, papayas, bananas, citrus, apples, etc. I use a three tiered hanging basket for onions, potatoes and garlic.

    My fridge crisper holds only fresh greens, carrots, and any cut or fast ripening veggies. My cheese drawer is too small to hold all the cheeses I keep on hand, so I use one of the other crisper drawers for the cheeses, eggs, and sandwich meats.

    Veggies and fruit don’t last that long in our house since I cook every day and they are a big part of our meals.

    I don’t care to leave milk or water in open top containers because they tend to acquire ‘tastes and aromas’ from stuff in the fridge. …and btw, eggs should always be stored in the carton and not in refrigerator egg trays…the shells are porous and they definitely absorb other odors and tastes through the shell.

    Another tip I learned the hard way (we operated a B&B, cooking school with deli at one time); to keep greens crisper longer, take them out of the plastic bag or container they come in, remove stems and wash them thoroughly in fresh, cool water. Give them a few spins in a salad spinner to get the extra water off and then store back in the bags or clear plastic containers they came in. Your greens will keep fresher much longer.

  9. Now why didn’t I think of this??? I see the plastic bins all the time but always onky think to use them on the shelves. I am going to measure my drawers right NOW!! I would love to never have to take out the drawers again to clean up GOO:(:( Also, I have 2 glass containers WITH lids that I got at Walmart last year and always thought to only use them for juice. I am going to transfer my milk to one too!!! You always give such great tips!!

    • Thanks, Pinky! If you have anything in the refrigerator that has a strong smell, you’ll want to make sure your milk is covered. I don’t have anything in mind so I don’t have it open, plus I go through it so quickly. You can always put saran wrap over the top, too.

  10. Sandi Lee says:

    During the 50’s refrigerators came with glass containers for storage. You can still find these at antique and junk stores if you’re lucky. They are heavier than the plastic ones and breakable but they are great.

    • Oh Sandi, I think I’ve seen those but I didn’t know what they were. Aren’t they usually pretty large and kind of square?

      • Sandi Lee says:

        Hi Susan.

        The ones I remember were 2 different sizes-one was square and maybe 5″ X 5″ and then long rectangular ones about the sizes of the plastic ones you showed in the article. They all had ridges down the sides and on the tops as well.
        I saw the rectangular ones at Dollar General today for $5 and they had slots to use has handles. I have been absent since about November as I moved and downsized so I will be sending you some photos soon-down from 4600 sq. ft to about 1300. I think you will be surprised to see how many large pieces fit in the new place. Glad to be back catching up with you ladies.

  11. Interesting idea. I use flat baskets to corral things. I hate my fridge, but I don’t think a new one in the near future, as there is really nothing wrong with this one other than I don’t like it. I do not like using any more plastic than I can help for ANYTHING any more. I have started recycling wide-mouth jars, and I use them for leftovers or cut up fruit or produce. I have also bought a pretty good selection of glass containers, both Pyrex and another brand from Italy over at Home Goods. These are nice because anything that gets baked or roasted in them can have that heavy snap-on top applied for storage.

    • I know, after all the stuff you read about plastic, it does make you nervous to use it for food storage. That’s a great idea for food storage…using the wide mouth jars. Thanks for the tip on the dishes at HomeGoods. I’ll look for those when I next in there.

  12. Those containers are a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I got really tired of the lettuce, cucumber and carrot goo, also. I wash my lettuce as soon as I come home from the store, dry it in a spinner and then store it in glass food containers. It keeps so well when you do this and is so nice and crispy and clean when you are ready to make a salad or use it in a smoothie. I started doing it with my carrots as well, because I use a lot of carrots It saves a lot of time each week when my carrots are already peeled and washed and ready to cut up and cook when preparing meal.
    I haven’t tried this with celery or cucumbers. If anyone has, please let me know if it works or if it dries them out to much.

  13. I like the bin idea and I like the price of the Marshall’s ones! Much easier to clean one bin than the fridge drawer. Now I need to find some bins, clean my drawers one last time, and start using them!

  14. I have a set of 4 frig bins and love them. I have a large one I put on the bottom shelf for when I bring meat/chicken home. It always seems to leak before I can use/get it ready for the freezer. Also, they are good for defrosting, on the counter or in the frig. Mine are not deep like the ones you have. About 2″ deep. I am pretty sure I got mine from QVC. Now I couldn’t live without them!

  15. I also love things neat in my frig.Amazon has some wonderful glass jars with locking lids(Fido is the brand I have) Celery keeps for a month or more & a half of onion will never smell up the frig in these.Thanks for the drawer ideas.

  16. I use the double bin you showed from amazon..i store my clear stamp sets in it!

  17. I have never seen such an organized refrigerator! I lose things in mine, and then find it when it is hard to recognize! I need to do this!

  18. I don’t have these storage units, but I have seen them in Home Goods and wonder about them.

    A good way to store celery is to wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and put in the crisper. It will stay crunchy for a long time. I also put clean kitchen towels in the bottom of fridge drawers.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Placing your lettuce, kale, spinach, etc in a zipper close bag with a paper towel really helps them last longer. I have been wanting some of these bins but more to help with reaching items in back without having to take out a hundred things first. I didn’t about using them in the drawers to make clean up easier. Thanks for the tip.

  20. Since I have become an empty-nester I try not to buy more than I can eat. It is still hard because everything looks good at the market. I use a sharpie and blue painter’s tape to mark a big use-by-date so I can see at a glance. I try to put those things at eye-level. When I open a tomato paste can, I only use a little. The rest I empty onto plastic wrap, and twist it into a log. I put that log in a small mason jar, label with my blue tape, and store it in the freezer. When I need it again, I just open it, slice off a tablespoon or so, re-wrap it and place it back in the freezer for future use. No UFOs (Unidentified Frozen Objects). All that said, I will be checking out your storage containers. 🙂

    • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

      Haha, UFOs. I remember using that term many years ago, but as unidentified food objects. 😀

  21. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    Susan, I’m not using them at this time, but in the past I have used similar items and baskets as additional ‘drawers’ in my fridge. It just makes it easy to grab out the category you need. You’ll have everything on hand this way and you won’t have to dig through several items to get to the one at the back. But I do like the idea of using these in the crisper drawers just so you don’t have to wrangle with the drawers themselves.

    Also, as for your milk in the pitcher, I just saw a new product (new to me, anyway) at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day. Gosh, I don’t remember the name but it has a flower name and it looks like a flat, floppy flower. They come in different sizes and the concept is that they will be a lid for any bowl and create a tight seal. If you ever find a need for such a thing, they might just fill the bill.

    • Carol S. says:

      Pam, those lids have been around for several years and are great. Come in many different sizes, even rectangular. I see them in most stores that sell kitchen items. Colors vary (usually a type of flower) and change for the seasons.

      • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

        Thanks for telling me, Carol. I guess I don’t get out enough, lol. That was the first time I’d seen them. I’m glad to hear they come in the rectangular shape as well.

  22. I see these all the time at my Marshalls and pass them by everytime. They are a great price and great quality.

    • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

      You know, I never get out to Marshall’s. Susan is always mentioning some cute item or great bargain she got there. I really do need to get out more!

  23. What a great tip on the tomato paste!! I just plop it into a freezer bag and freeze the lump!! Will have to try the tube in a Ball jar……amazing idea!!

  24. I noticed in your frig picture that the milk was stored on the frig door. I’ve always heard that is a big n0-no since the temp on the door is lower than the inside of the frig temperatures. Best to store it on an inside shelf. I love those containers, too, and use them in my frig.

    • That picture is a screen shot from the video at Amazon. I’ve seen commercials on TV for new refrigerators where they do that, too. I don’t think I would store it there, either.

  25. So admire your organization skills….I’m a kindred spirit along with you in this task also!
    You’re awesome!
    🙂

  26. I have stored Milk in my Fridge door for over 23 years, counted back through various Fridges to the GE. We always got stuck leaving the Refrigerator. Now that I think of it, would anyone not buy a House because the owner wouldn’t leave the Refrigerator? AnyHoo just another note, the set of four bins for $33.99 I bought at Costco for $19.99. Surprising difference……….

  27. I like to store milk in glass too, so I use quart size canning jars. I also empty buttermilk and cream into canning jars and they last a lot longer. I use the two part lids and rings to seal them. Very inexpensive.

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