Spring Cleaning – Your Refrigerator

cleaning refrigeratorAs the weather warms up in March, I like to open up the windows, let in some fresh air, and do some spring cleaning. Since I have two young children at home, my spring cleaning usually happens in fits and starts. To tell the truth, my goal is usually to have the spring cleaning done by early May because I can only find a free hour or two each week to devote to it. This week and next week I am going to bring back a couple of old blog topics to help with spring cleaning this year.

This week we are going to go back to a blog written in January of 2013, “How to Clean and Organize your Refrigerator”. My refrigerator desperately needs to be cleaned out, so I think it is going to be my first spring cleaning project. Having a clean refrigerator prevents food waste because you can easily see what you have on hand and what needs to be eaten up soon. Having a clean refrigerator also lowers your risk of food-borne illness because foods are more likely to stay at the appropriate temperature and less likely to spoil.

Here is a simple checklist to follow for cleaning your refrigerator. Here are a few things you can do quickly if you do not have the time for a full refrigerator cleaning:

  • Make sure your refrigerator temperature is 40°F or slightly below and your freezer is 0°F or below. Higher temperatures mean faster food spoilage.
  • Air circulates constantly in a refrigerator and foods dry out quickly. Everything needs to be wrapped in foil, plastic, or put in airtight containers. Moisture- and vapor-proof materials are best.
  • Perishables like dairy, eggs, and meat should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator (not the door). Fresh meat should be in a drawer or in a container on a bottom shelf so any juices that leak do not drip on other foods.
  • Identify a spot for leftovers and label them. Make a plan to use them. If you know you will not use them within four days, freeze them or throw them away.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator when they happen to prevent bacteria (germs) and odors from developing. Use hot soapy water to clean up any spill and rinse with clean water.

Good luck with your spring cleaning,

Justine

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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How to Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator

If you have been reading the SpendSmart blog lately, you know I am on a crusade to get my kitchen more organized.  After creating better centers in my kitchen and organizing the pantry, I started on the refrigerator. I hate wasting time hunting for items and juggling containers to make something fit in the refrigerator. Throwing away food, feels like throwing money in the trash. I save money and time with a more organized refrigerator.

If your refrigerator needs to be cleaned and organized, check out the step by step guide How to Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator.

If you are not ready to tackle this job, here are a few quick tips to properly store food in your refrigerator.

  • Make sure your refrigerator temperature is  40°F or slightly below and your freezer is 0°F or below. Higher temperatures mean faster food spoilage.
  • Air circulates constantly in a refrigerator and foods dry out quickly. Everything needs to be wrapped in foil, plastic, or put in airtight containers. Moisture- and vapor-proof materials are best.
  • Perishables like dairy, eggs, and meat should be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator (not the door). Fresh meat should be in a drawer or in a container on a bottom shelf so juices do not drip on other foods.
  • Identify a spot for leftovers and label them. Make a plan to use them. If you know you will not use them within four days, freeze them or throw them away.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator when they happen to prevent bacteria (germs) and odors from developing. Use hot soapy water to clean up any spill and rinse with clean water.

Plan Meals from Your Cupboards

Every couple of months I take stock of what is in my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboard and try to eat out of them for a week or more without buying anything but milk. I know it’s time for the “cleanse” when my freezer gets so full that packages start sliding out when I open the door. The refrigerator isn’t usually a problem because I can keep on top of that. I have a small cupboard, so that can’t get too out of control either. Yesterday I emptied out my refrigerator/freezer and made a list of everything. I don’t bother to list the individual portions of soups and meat packets I use for lunch, because I keep them in a plastic tub so they are contained. Before I put everything back, I wiped out the shelves and emptied the ice bin because with the automatic defrost, the ice gets stale. I reviewed stock of the cupboard and didn’t find lots of duplicates.

The inventory process took about a half hour. I found 3 full bags of frozen vegetable mixes plus several partial bags. I also found some round steak that had been in there for 6 months and some hamburger that I had repackaged, but forgot to date. It took another half hour to come up with meals using only what I have on hand.  All I have to buy this week is milk!
Our 5 day meal planner is in the PLAN section of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website.

I wonder how long I could go without buying anything but milk and fresh vegetables…

-pointers from Peggy

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