Why It’s Time to Clean Out Your Fridge and Freezer

Teenage boy opening a fridge looking for something to snack on

Hi friends! I’m sure a lot of you are well on your way to a healthier 2013 with all sorts of food and fitness resolutions to help keep you on track. I wanted to take a minute to remind you that now is the perfect time of year to clean out your fridge and freezer. Not only will it help you get organized and possibly free up some space for new foods, it will help ensure that the things you are storing are safe and of the best quality!

Pro Tip: Make sure you label everything that goes into your fridge and freezer. That makes it easy to check how long things have been in there and know when to throw things away.

Clean the Freezer

Generally speaking, things can be frozen forever. As long as the power doesn’t go out and things remain at the proper temperature, 0 degrees F, the food will remain safe. However, the quality and freshness will deteriorate over time, so there are some guidelines to follow for taste.

According to the USDA website, here are some common things that might be in your freezer and how long they will last:

  • Soups & stews: 2-3 months
  • Frozen dinners & entrees: 3-4 months
  • Casseroles: 2-3 months
  • Uncooked meat (whole & parts): 4-12 months
  • Uncooked meat (ground): 3-4 months

How to Clean the Fridge

Usually we have a wider range of things in our fridge so there is a longer list for refrigerator storage safety. As a general rule, leftovers should only be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days max. Also during this process, make sure your refrigerator temperature is set accurately.

Here’s a list of other common refrigerator items and how long you can safely store them. These are some of the highlights:

  • Bacon: 7 days once opened
  • Pasta sauce: 5 days once opened
  • Broth: 5-7 days once opened
  • Eggs: 3-5 weeks
  • Butter: 1-3 months
  • Baby food: 1-3 days once opened
  • Lunch meat: 3-5 days once opened or deli sliced
  • Hard cheeses: 3-4 weeks

You can also freeze your veggies if you are looking to make them last longer and use less waste.

Always remember the most important rule: When in doubt, throw it out! It’s better to be safe than sorry and food poisoning is no picnic.

Come back next week to learn what healthy staple foods you should always have in your refrigerator.

While you’re going through your fridge and freezer, make sure to take some time to wipe out the insides and get rid of all the gross stuff that’s accumulated on the shelves and in the drawers! Added bonus: cleaning burns calories!

Happy cleaning.

photo credit: ericmay

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Lindsay is Registered Dietitian and writes about food and fitness at The Lean Green Bean. She shares healthy recipes, fun workouts, and snapshots of her life. She lives with her husband in Ohio and enjoys traveling and spending time outside with her dogs.