Is it time for a fridge cleanout? Probably!
Obviously want to get rid of anything expired, slimy or shriveled, but wouldn’t you like to be able to see into your fridge so you know what’s there? Here’s some help.
These are the things in the refrigerator you really should get rid of ASAP, even if they aren’t officially “unusable.”
Related: How to tell if food is fresh: Awesome kitchen tricks that do the job on 7 pantry staples.
1. The baking soda. Its job is to to absorb odors, so if it’s been in your fridge longer than a month or two, it isn’t doing a darn thing. But don’t worry, there are lots of things you can do with old baking soda. And if your fridge isn’t particularly stinky? You really can forgo it entirely.
2. The sauce (or jam or any other food gift) you will never, ever use. As a food writer, I often get samples of various specialty sauces. And my husband gets gift baskets through work, many of which include gourmet sauces. Sometimes, they save the day when I need a quick marinade. Occasionally they’re even delicious! But if they’ve been in there since last Christmas? They’re taking up fridge space you could use, so toss them.
I know the toughest things to get rid in the kitchen or out are homemade gifts, but if you know you won’t eat homemade preserves or pesto or anything at all, just throw them out.
(Psst..if your aunt happens to notice her homemade fig spread in your fridge six months later, she’ll know you didn’t like it anyway.)
3. The sauce with crust around the opening. You know the one jar you have to run under hot water to open? Yeah, get rid of that. Though I’ll give you a pass if you just need to wash the cap of that non-expired jar of mustard or bottle of A1 But first, be hones with yourself: Will you ever really use the A1?
4. Anything you can use right now. There’s no time like the present, and if you keep waiting to make those brussels sprouts, they will become a slimy mess at the bottom of the drawer eventually. Get creative if you aren’t in the mood for roasted — I chopped some up the other day and made something that very closely resembled cabbage soup.
And those overripe bananas or on-the-verge strawberries? They’re not getting any fresher. Get them pureed and frozen or baked in bread or…you name it.
Now post the cool food you made on Instagram and hashtag it #fridgecleanout or my favorite, #scrapcooking, and be sure to tag @CoolMomEats so we can see it!
Related: Which frozen foods are safe to eat after a power outage? A great list and a smart food safety hack.
5. The medicine you don’t need anymore. If you have a tiny bit of amoxycillin in a bottle that’s still in the fridge, pleeeeease toss it. That goes for any medications or beauty products — cucumber eye pads from 2015, anyone? — you might have stashed in there. (Ask me about my kids’ years-old prescription lice remedy some time.)
6. Anything you don’t recognize or remember buying in the first place. We all make mistakes; you see something interesting on sale and you drop it in your shopping cart, because why not? But if you don’t remember that day, or why on earth you bought the…whatever that sauce is…just let it go.
As with the KonMari method for purging your closet, it will free up your fridge, allowing you to see what’s really available for cooking and eating. And that frees up a lot of mental space, too.