Mystery Meats and Burnt-Out Light Bulbs (National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!)

November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, though any day is a good day to tackle this project!

With this satisfying project, an hour or so and some elbow grease will reap big rewards! Saturday afternoon found me cleaning out my refrigerator and freezer.  The light bulb needed replacing, and I was working on our weekly meal plan and grocery list.  Plus, I was clearing out to prepare for a new season, healthier eating and the holidays.

So, Lets’s Do This!  Here’s How:

  • Take out the trash, and re-line the can.  Then place it next to the fridge.
  • Put on some music, of course, and grab a cold beverage from the fridge (you’re standing right there, after all!).
  • Clean off the closest counter for work space.
  • Run a sink full of hot and soapy water.  Then get to it!
  • Start with the vegetable bins.
    • Empty them out onto that clear counter, and review the contents;
    • Soak the bins in soapy water as you review;
    • Purge what is past its’ prime;
    • Plan your menus for the next week based on food you have on hand;
    • Add items to be replaced to your grocery list; and
    • Put your produce back, stocking like a store – oldest inventory on top or to the front, to be used first.
  • Hit the door compartments next.
    • Use the same plan of attack (empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff) but this time, review expiration dates and duplicates, too.
    • Make sure you rinse and and recycle the jars and containers you are purging.
    • Put it all back, grouping similar items together within compartments, like salad dressings together, and sandwich toppings together.

 

  • On to the shelves!
    • Address the shelves with the same process:  empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff.
    • Before you put the shelf contents back, consider adjusting the height of your shelves to make your fridge work better.  We have a tall top shelf, for milk jugs, juice bottles, water pitchers and left overs.  The other shelves are adjusted to be shorter, but so are their contents (egg cartons, 12 packs of soda, short bins of small items like yogurts and pudding cups) so this arrangement works well.
    • Group similar items on the shelves, as well.  For example, create a “left-over shelf” for already prepared and cooked meals, and make your grocery dollars stretch further!
    • Also, consider clear acrylic containers to store small single serve items, so they don’t get lost rolling around the shelves.

 

  • Next, review your freezer contents.  I let go of anything that I couldn’t readily identify, hence the article title of “Mystery Meats”.  If I can’t identify a food, it is not something we should eat!  On the plus side, we have also been writing contents and dates on the freezer packaging (foil, freezer bags, etc.), so to not run into this challenge again!
  • Finally, take a moment to clean the outside, too!  Take all the magnets, photos and papers off, and wipe down the surfaces.  If the fridge front or side is home to outdated soccer schedules or take out menus, purge those, too!

Now, stand back and open the fridge door.  Bask in the glow of a clean space, and maybe even grab a snack.  Pat yourself on the back, then move on to something else!

P.S. If you have an old refrigerator to get rid of, here are two resources:
https://www.comed.com/WaysToSave/ForYourHome/Pages/Recycling.aspx
http://www.1800gotjunk.com/us_en/what-we-take/refrigerator_removal

To:

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