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6 Tips for Organizing a Dorm Room Mini Fridge

6 Tips for Organizing a Dorm Room Mini Fridge

An absolute staple in nearly every dorm room is the trusty mini fridge. How would a college student survive without it? The dorm food might be inedible that night, or the dining hall closed before you could get there, or there are just snacks and drinks to keep cold. In my own collegiate days, the mini fridge in my future husband’s dorm room was always jam-packed with food, and it drove me insane that there was never any organization to it. If you’re prepping to send your kid off to college, these six tips for organizing a mini fridge can help your student keep their cold storage clutter-free.  

1. Work With The Space You Have

Check with your student’s college or university before purchasing a mini fridge because there are often restrictions on the size or number of fridges per room.

The size of mini fridges allowed for (or provided by) in dorms typically range from 3.1 to 5 cubic feet, depending on the campus. Make sure to measure the interior dimensions of your fridge to determine which container sizes will fit in the mini fridge. Try to optimize the shelf space. Think of what your student will regularly put in the fridge and then accommodate for that.

2. Use Fridge Organization Bins

Use small containers to organize similar items. This way your student can throw certain items together and they don’t take up unnecessary space. Just make sure to label the fridge organization bins so that they know what’s in them if it’s not clear.

Using containers of different sizes, which often come in a set, is usually the cheapest way to go, and gives you many storage options. Try to find stackable bins for optimal storage.

When organizing food and beverages into bins, remind your kid to pay attention to expiration dates and put the oldest food item closest to the front.

3. Try the Egg Carton Organizing Hack

To make better use of the fridge door shelves, line them with egg cartons (you can cut them to size), for a genius recycling and organizing hack in one. This way you can store condiments upside down without them toppling over.

4. Stack Wisely

If any bottles are too tall, stack them in a pyramid shape on their sides, and use a bottle stacking grip mat to keep your bottles in place. In addition, sometimes keeping six-packs in their original carriers ends up saving space.

For DIY stacking shelves, turn magazine file holders on their sides and stack them on top of each other.

5. Utilize the Space Outside the Mini Fridge

Consider utilizing genius storage solutions to take advantage of each inch of the dorm room. A set of shelves or drawers underneath your fridge can act as a mini pantry to store food items that do not need to be refrigerated. Lightweight bins on top of the mini fridge can hold grab-and-go snacks, or napkins, forks and knives. just be mindful to allow for ventilation of the back of the fridge.

6. Create a Cleaning Schedule

Having a dorm room cleaning schedule is a must – especially if your student is in a suite with other roommates – and don’t leave the mini fridge out. Here’s a few tips to share with them:

  • Clean the fridge out every week – just move food that needs to be eaten to the front, and make sure there’s nothing spoiling.
  •  Deep clean every month – take everything out, wipe down the shelves with a disinfectant wipe, and reorganize if needed. This is a must!
  •  A first step to keeping a mini fridge organized is simply to stay accountable. Encourage your student to set a weekly reminder (I do mine every Sunday) on their phone to clean out the fridge.
  • Spend about 15 minutes throwing out old food, and then make a list of anything to buy for the week. Encourage your student to stay organized and use this time to plan out their week as well.
Mini fridge stocked with fruit and beverages

Mini Fridge Grocery Essentials for College Students 

These essential food and beverage items in the mini fridge can help college students keep their hunger and thirst pangs at bay.  Don’t forget to mark your food with a Sharpie if you’re sharing a fridge!

  1. Yogurt
  2. Fruits
  3. Vegetables
  4. Butter
  5. Milk
  6. Soda
  7. Juices
  8. Flavored water
  9. Eggs (if cooking is allowed in the dorm room) or hard boiled eggs

And if you have a freezer section:

  1. Favorite pint of ice cream
  2. Ice trays
  3. Microwavable frozen meals

Mini Fridge Buying Tips 

Freezer or no freezer? Many mini fridges come equipped with small freezers, though the freezers often don’t keep items frozen that well, because they typically share air space with the fridge. Still, some work quite well and it’s always nice to have access to a quick microwavable frozen meal.

Does size matter? It’s best to purchase the largest mini fridge you can afford (that will fit in and be allowed in the space you intend it for). The larger fridges perform better and are more energy efficient, plus they hold more items.

Rent or buy? Many colleges dorms will let you rent a refrigerator for the term, but investing in one means your student can bring it with them to their first apartment.

Single or multiple fridge? And if your son or daughter’s college roommate also intends to bring a refrigerator along?  Many dorm rooms often have multiple refrigerators, which can be especially helpful to accommodate everyone’s food if your student is in a suite- or apartment-style dorm.  

Try it At Home!

Though a dorm room staple, mini fridges are also handy for many spaces at home, including home offices, bedrooms and garages, and if especially cute design, like those cute little retro mini fridges, maybe even a TV or family room. You can even use one as a wine cooler.

Some are relatively inexpensive and light in weight, making them easily transportable. Others are huge and could serve as the primary refrigerator for a single user. Our latest obsession: super mini countertop beauty fridges to keep your skincare creams and products chilled.

College Essentials for Parents

As you prepare for this important time in your teen’s life —whether it’s preparing for college applications or outfitting the rest of the dorm room for your student, one of the things I’ve learned along the way is to relax and enjoy the process. You’ve been planning for this moment since your baby was born, and though it’s hard to believe this moment is “here”, there’s one thing for sure: you and your kiddo will end up fine.  

Big plans, tiny space

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About The Author

Wanda Lopez

Wanda Lopez a blogger at heart and shares her insight on all things food, recipes, home décor, travel and more at She’s a passionate content editor and contributor for household brands such as Kraft, Publix, Ford, Best Buy and more--all while balancing work, motherhood and all things in between. An educator and avid photographer, she is in love with design, food and the outdoors.

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