Nowadays, there are so many unofficial holidays popping up in the books and November 15 is no stranger to that. ‘National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day’ is tomorrow! Maybe this unofficial holiday was created in preparation for Thanksgiving which is right around the corner, and we here at Offerpad are excited for the feast next week. So, let’s clean it out and get it ready for those once-a-year leftovers of mashed potatoes and turkey.
How to clean out your refrigerator
That sounds like a silly headline, but there is a right and wrong way to clean out your refrigerator. Don’t take the lazy approach and just stand in front of the door peeking in looking for food items you don’t remember putting in there within the last week. One of the most strategic ways to clean out your refrigerator is to start with the top shelf and remove everything from it – place it all somewhere that it won’t spill or cross-contaminate with other food. Once the top shelf is cleaned out, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests cleaning all surfaces with hot, soapy water, and then rinse. Don’t forget about the back and side walls either. Next, move to the second shelf, then the bottom shelf, then the bottom food crispers.
Once all food is removed from the fridge, now it’s time to go the extra mile and really clean your fridge! Use a fresh sponge or a hard cleaning brush to get up those old spills, and make sure you get between the food drawer tracks.
Rearrange food placement inside
Now, you have all your food on the counter, the fridge is clean and empty, begin going through looking at all the expiration dates for each one of your food items. Upon identifying the items you’re keeping, place them back in your fridge strategically. Top and middle shelves should have ready-to-eat foods such as dairy, packaged meals, and prepared salads. The bottom shelf should be reserved for raw meat, poultry, and fish. Reason being is that if raw meat sits on the top shelf and drips onto the other ready-to-eat food, you would potentially be eating cross-contamination that could possibly make you ill.
Pro Tip: According the USDA, place an open box of baking soda on the shelf to keep your fridge smelling fresh and to eliminate odors.”
Let’s talk about shelf life
On page 4 and 5 of the USDA Refrigeration and Food Safety PDF, they clearly outline very specific items – everything from ground meat to bacon and sausage. Did you know ham and turkey should only be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of 2-3 days? Yes, we’re excited for Thanksgiving too, so based on the USDA suggestions, if you don’t finish all the turkey two days after refrigeration, we suggest making a stew out of it for the final day and then discarding any other un-eaten turkey to avoid spoilage.
Now that we’ve been able to shed some light on old food in refrigerators, safety tips and even guide you on where to place food in your refrigerator, we hope you take an hour or two tomorrow on ‘National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day’ to really make an effort to keep your families health in good standing from a food standpoint.