Holiday Prepping? Don’t Forget the Fridge

National Clean Out Your Fridge Day is November 15, and it falls at a great time to clean out the fridge for all the holiday meals coming up. 

We’re all guilty of an overstuffed refrigerator. Some of us even have multiple fridges and freezers to fill. While refrigeration existed in the 18th and 19th centuries, home refrigeration was introduced much later in 1913. With it, people took advantage of being able to keep larger amounts of food fresh in the house at any time. The convenience of the refrigerator also brought about new inconveniences, primarily cleaning it out! Yes, you’re able to buy enough milk for a week or two instead of a day, but you’re also expected to throw away that leftover meal from last month? Outrageous! 

Southeast Dairy Association - milk

And that was before freezers were included! Do you have any idea how many bags of veggies and freezer burned chicken are still up there? There is no way a tub of ice cream for your visiting family will fit up there. 

As it is, when your fridge is cluttered, it’s easy to forget you have the lemon juice for your tart somewhere within the piles of food. Before you stock up on your essential condiments for upcoming gatherings, check your own fridge, saving you time, space and money. 

But first, you need to be able to see what is in there. 

Here’s how to conquer this clean out. 

Throw out or use up leftovers. If it’s moldy, toss it. That should not be a debate, as it’s doing more harm than taking up space on the shelf. Only keep close to expiring foods if you have a meal you can include it in soon. Here are some suggestions for those leftovers. If you can’t use them, they need to go. You need the space through the New Year. 

Actually clean your refrigerator. Clean the fridge on National Clean Out Your Fridge Day? That is wild. 

Grab the soap and water. It’s time to demolish those mystery stains from leaky takeout boxes and toppled siracha bottles. After cleaning, don’t forget to place baking soda to neutralize any remaining smells. Guests will be impressed when they open the door for a snack because, wow, you should see the freezer at home! 

Add “Made On” and “Best By” dates. For items going in the freezer, add a note listing when it was made or bought. Here’s a general timeline for different foods that can be placed in the freezer. Add the date you need to use it by and place the nearest to expiration at the front. You may find an easy emergency side dish. 

Make shopping lists. When you plan out what you need from the store, head to the refrigerator and pantry to see if you have any of the ingredients. If you don’t have it or need more, to save future space, determine how much of that ingredient you need from the store and how likely you are to use it frequently. 

If it takes you longer to go through ingredients, buy smaller quantities and try including more shelf-stable pantry staples in your recipes. 

Habitually clean out the fridge. Make National Clean Out Your Fridge Day the big cleanout of the year, not the only one. Check every month what is coming close to expiration or already expired. Place the foods that need to go soon at the front. Take note of what’s there. Let’s be honest, it will still get badly overfilled, but it’ll be easier to make space for the holiday turkey and ham.