For most people, keeping tabs on every item in the fridge and how long it's been there isn't always top-of-mind. Who wants to think about disposing of all the leftovers that turned into science experiments in the Tupperware containers; the expired bottles of salad dressing that really shouldn’t be used past their expiration date, and that piece of produce that rolled undetected between the bottom drawer and the shelf?
So this weekend before the holiday fesitivites begin, do yourself a favor by grabbing a trash bag, a rag, and a face mask if you think it’s necessary to make room in your apartment fridge for the Christmas leftovers that are soon going to takeover.
Toss the Obvious
Anything that looks sketchy probably is. If it has mold growing on it or is just a weird color, into the trash it goes. If you think it might still be good, but aren’t brave enough to taste test, as a rule of thumb think “when in doubt, throw it out.” Any take-out containers that are more than 3 or 4 days old should probably be tossed out too. Even though you think you’ll eat it, you won’t.
Check the expiration dates
Make more space in the fridge by getting rid of anything expired. While it’s true that some things are still okay after their expiration date, better to err on the side of caution. When milk or sour cream has gone bad you know right away, but pay extra attention to condiments like ketchup, mustard, and salad dressing. They can look deceivingly okay when they should just be thrown away.
Wipe it Out
Take everything out of your fridge. Then spray the inside with a safe cleaner or just use soap and water. Wipe the sides, top, shelves, and inside the drawers. Even take the drawers out and wipe underneath. Sometimes, things spill and drip where you can’t see them. If you don’t clean them up, they could start to mold. If you’re really feeling ambitious, pull the fridge out and clean underneath and behind it. You won’t believe the dust bunnies that live back there. Before you put everything back inside, read the next step!
Organize and Make a List
As you’re putting everything back inside the fridge make sure you have a method to your madness. Organize it in a way that makes sense to you and your cravings. If you go to grab the milk often, then put the juice behind it so the milk is easily accessible. Make sure heavy items are on the bottom shelves, and group together fruits and vegetables, condiments, and other similar items. Take an inventory of the contents and make a list of the things you need for next time you go grocery shopping.
Don’t forget the freezer!
While you’re cleaning out the fridge, you might as well clean out your freezer too. Follow the steps above and maybe put on a pair of mittens to avoid frost bite.
In order to keep your food safe, the refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees or below; the danger zone for food is between 41 and 135 degrees because that’s when bacteria have the highest chance of multiplying and contaminating your food. The USDA recommends storing your leftovers in airtight containers and using them within 3 to 4 days.
So now you’re ready to fill your fridge with any holiday leftovers that come your way. We hope these rental living tips were helpful. Bon Appetit!