Oops. I did it again. | Learning how often to clean out the refrigerator

Doesn’t it seem like I  just cleaned out the refrigerator? And I really thought I was doing a pretty good job of using the food that was in there. Turns out I was following a couple of my 10 ways to waste food.

If it weren’t for this blog, I would have no idea when I last cleaned it out, but now I can look back and see that it was in April. So it looks like every 3 months is not going to work for me. Boo!

But the good news is that I did clean out the refrigerator, I have a fresh start again, and I have learned more about what I need to change to make it better the next time!

Of course, I have pictures!


The Process:

I like to do the real deal and take out all the shelves to clean them.

This was a sad thing to find behind a drawer. I’m pretty sure it was maraschino cherry juice. I scrubbed it for a long time.

Food Waste:

I think I’m the most sad about the blueberries. 😦 Some of the cheese is because something leaked into the cheese drawer.


I went grocery shopping today, so it doesn’t look as cleaned out as it might have otherwise.

Those little serrano peppers down there are the first harvest from our little garden. Yay!

What I learned:

* I need to clean out the refrigerator more often. I’m hoping once a month will be enough. Pretty please?

* I need to clean out the refrigerator before and after a trip. Some of the things in the waste pile were there because I couldn’t remember for sure if they were leftovers from before our trip or after.

* I still need to clean out the condiments, gunk, and whatever else is lurking  in the door shelves. We tend to have a lot of condiments. So many that they won’t all fit in the door. I would like to limit the number of condiments to what will fit in the door, so that they are not crowding the rest of the refrigerator.

* I tried a new strategy of cleaning out one shelf at a time as I could grab little bits of time. I thought I would like it, but I really didn’t. I much prefer doing all the shelves at once, then all of the drawers together.

* I know that being more consistent with menu planning and shopping with a list that I actually look at while at the store (unlike today), will help me. I’ve been thinking about posting my menu plans to keep me accountable.

* I need to make banana bread more. And banana muffins. And feed the monkeys at the zoo…

So how is your refrigerator looking? And how often do you think it should be cleaned out?

I’m linking up with Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing and The Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday.


How to clean out disgusting leftover food containers from the fridge -or- Ridiculous Procrastination

What you will need:

  • disgusting leftover food containers from cleaning out the fridge
  • determination/bravery
  • sink/dishwasher and soap
  • garbage disposal/ trash can/compost bin

Helpful and recommended:

  • the ability to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose
  • rubber gloves and scrub brush
  • nice smelling candle
  • open windows/doors
  • baking soda and/or lemon peels

The Steps

1. Prep work: Learn how to waste food.

2. Clean out the refrigerator and put all of the disgusting containers on the counter by the sink.

The reusable containers are mostly in the back in this picture and hold old (some very very old) leftover food.

3. Plan to clean them out. Sometime soon. If you really like them to be extra mega-mold-disgusting, procrastinate:

  • Try to wait until both the sink and the dishwasher are empty on a trash collection day, during nap time for little ones, when you are well rested and the laundry is done.
  • Secretly hope that someone else will clean out the containers for you.
  • If you have understanding friends coming over, just leave the containers there.
  • If you are having a family birthday party for your son, put the containers in a trash bag and hide them on the back deck.

I am not kidding.

4. When you are finished procrastinating, (For example, when a new babysitter is coming over on a nice warm day and you are afraid she will find the trash bag of disgusting moldy food containers on the deck) get out your supplies and your determination.

It does not matter if your candle is from the wrong season, just use it!

Can you feel the determination and bravery represented here?

5. Work quickly!  Breathing through only your mouth(to avoid the dreaded odors entering your nose), dump/wash/scrape the stinky moldy food into the disposal/trash/compost container.

6. Wash the containers well with soap and water, and/or run through the dishwasher. (Maybe even twice if there is a lingering odor. It happens.)

7. Wash the sink well, clean the disposal with baking soda and/or put lemon peels down it. Take out the trash or compost container.

8. Continue nice smelling candle and open windows/doors until necessary.

9. You did it! Good for you! Don’t let this happen again! DO NOT repeat!

Project: Simplify: The Refrigerator is looking better!

I wanted to post this earlier, but ended up going on a date with my husband instead! Yay for date nights!

Here we are finishing week 4 of Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify! One thing I’m noticing about myself is that I may have a habit of biting off more than I can chew on these projects. My goal was to clean out the refrigerator/freezer and the pantry.

I just didn’t get to it all, but I did make really great progress on the refrigerator. I have the main shelves and drawers looking good! And I am happy about that. I WILL plan to get to the rest of it soon, but maybe in smaller, more attainable goal chunks(Do goal chunks sound gross? hmmm).

Refrigerator before:

Refrigerator after:

This is some of the yucky behind the drawers:



Very bad yucky drawer:

Do you see how there are yucky paper towels in there? That’s because I noticed that something was leaky and yucky a while ago, so of course I stuck a paper towel or two in there to soak up the yuck so it wouldn’t get on the new food I was putting right on top of this yucky food. I know. It doesn’t make sense. And I’ve done it before, too.

But here is a clean, happy drawer!

I am ashamed of all this food that I wasted, and I will try not to follow my Ten Ways to Waste Food in the future! I don’t really want to show you this next picture, but I am trying to be honest here, so this is how my pile looked at the end of this week’s project:

And here’s a nice happy clean shelf!

If you would like to see more refrigerator (and pantry) transformations, check out Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify link up.

Ten Ways to Waste Food

Well, I’m still working on cleaning out my refrigerator and pantry, but I was inspired to write this post in the meantime. I hope to be back by Saturday night to post some great after pictures of the refrigerator and pantry!!

10 Ways to Waste Food

1. Never clean out your refrigerator. It’s scary in there.

2. If you see that something has been around a while and needs to be eaten, take it out and look at it. Think about what you could do with it. Then, put it back in the fridge so that you can think about it for a few more days. Repeat.

3. When you come home from grocery shopping, just push everything in the refrigerator to the back and put the new stuff in the front.

4. If something is on sale, or free, but you have no idea what to do with it, grab it!

5. If something in the pantry is near its expiration date, THINK about eating it soon, or donating it to someone who will eat it. When you notice it again and see that it has now expired, feel guilty. Every time you notice it for the next few years, feel even more guilty.

6. Don’t make a menu plan. Don’t you dare.

7. Buy lots of things that you wouldn’t normally buy or eat. Hey, it looks interesting and maybe even healthy!

8. Don’t make shopping lists, and definitely don’t take inventory of what you have before grocery shopping. Who has time for that nonsense anyway?

9. Store leftovers in opaque containers. DO NOT LABEL.

10. If you already have a type of fresh produce, like strawberries, and you buy more before the first container is done, just go ahead and eat the newer ones first. The newer ones look so much fresher and tastier! I’m sure you’ll go back to eat the older ones later in the week.

Do you have a favorite? Do you have one to add to the list?

I’m linking up with The Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday.

Project: Simplify: Food, Food, Food

It’s week 4 of Project: Simplify over at Tsh’s blog, Simple Mom, and this week we will be working in the kitchen with a focus on the refrigerator and pantry. I think I am the most excited about this one! This is something that really needs to be done around here! We are waaaay overdue (you’ll see…).

The Refrigerator


 Just so you know, that brownish stuff is chocolate milk that spilled…oh a few months ago.

And the freezer side:

The Pantry (various cabinets in the kitchen plus a stairwell)

Why yes, as a matter of fact I do like tea.

And every once in a while (ha ha) pantry items end up on the counters, like this:

and this:

It really seems like I should be done with these pictures now, but I’m not!

Here’s the bread drawer:

And don’t forget the stairwell!

Tsh is also challenging us to make healthier choices as we feed our families. This has been a goal of mine that I have been slowly working toward for the past year or so. I have to say that I don’t think my pictures reflect that goal as much as I thought they would.

Some of that might be unhealthy stuff that’s just been sitting there unused for a long time and I just haven’t gotten rid of it. I’m excited to see how it all looks at the end of the week!!