Spring cleaning is a great way to freshen up our homes and liven up our spirit partway into the year. It is an opportunity for us to get rid of old closet items and clean up around our living space to brighten up our rooms and make way for the new things we want in life.
Besides tidying up around the house, one area that we often leave behind is the inside of our fridge. Cleaning and reorganizing our fridge is a must because it will help keep our food safe and make it last longer.
Here’s what you can do once you start tackling “clean fridge” on your spring cleaning checklist.
First things first: Do a temp check on your fridge. If your fridge does not come with a thermometer, make sure you buy one that can attach to the inside of your fridge. The inside of your fridge should be at a consistent temperature of 35 - 40o F (2 - 4o C). Any temperature greater than that can cause food spoilage, and temperatures below that range can cause freezing issues. Doing temp checks often is one of the best preventative ways to help keep food safe and lasting longer.
Next, get rid of expired items and leftovers that are more than three to four days old. Expired items and leftovers are lower in nutrition compared to fresh foods and can increase your chances of food poisoning, so it is a good idea to check dates and get rid of old foods. Plus it helps free up space in your fridge, allowing air to circulate better which can help keep the temperature in your fridge more stable, helping it run on less energy.
Then, reorganize items to help lengthen the life of your perishable items in your fridge and keep them safe.
- Condiments that contain preservatives and beverages can go on the top or in the door of the fridge, areas that are least temperature stable.
- The coldest part of your fridge is usually the bottom back shelf, which is the best place to put any leftover foods, fresh-squeezed juices such as unpasteurized orange juice and dairy items such as milk, yogurt and cheeses.
- Eggs can go on your middle shelf, where the temperature is the most stable. Make sure to keep your eggs in the carton that it was purchased in. Eggs are porous and can absorb the odor from surrounding foods. The cartons will help protect your eggs.
- If you have any packaged raw meats, place them on the bottom shelf, in a large bowl or plate to keep any juices from the meat from leaking onto other foods.
- Place your sandwich meats or cold cuts in the deli drawer, which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge. If you do not have a deli drawer, use your bottom shelf instead.
- Veggies like to stay moist; store them in the drawer with the highest humidity. Fruits on the other hand like to stay drier, so keep them in the drawer with the lowest humidity and keep them separate from your vegetables. Also, it is a good idea to leave your fruits and veggies unwashed until you use them. Water can promote mold and cause bacteria to grow.
Once you have an idea of how your fridge is organized, consider getting a turntable for your shelves to easily find items and keep them accessible as well as expiration dates visible. Also, if you do not have these handy already, get clear stackable containers for leftovers; this will help keep your fridge neat and organized. Lastly, keep a permanent marker close to your fridge to label items with the date it was opened as a reminder for how long it has been opened and when to eat it by before it needs to be tossed out.
Lastly, make sure to clean your fridge often. You can repeat the steps above when going through your fridge. In addition, empty and clean each drawer, wipe up spills right away before they dry up and store an opened box of baking powder in your fridge or freezer to help eliminate odors – replace it every three months. When your fridge is neat and clean, it will not only help you stay within a budget by knowing what you already have before making a run to the store, but also keep your family safe from foodborne illnesses.