Have you ever found a container at the back of the fridge that you couldn’t quite identify what the contents were because it looked like a science project? Or that condiment that you couldn’t remember when it was opened?
*Updated January 2017
Stop wasting food!
Spoiled food and questionable stuff that gets tossed out is a real waste of money, isn’t it?
Put a date on it
To keep track of how old stuff is – when you open up any jar, bottle, or package of food, mark the date on it! I keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie marker in the kitchen specifically for this purpose. A paper clip makes it easier to find the end of the tape.
- For bottles and jars, write the date right on the lid.
- For plastic containers, rip off a piece of masking tape and write the date on that, then stick it to the top of the container. Sometimes, I write the date directly on the lid with the marker, which comes off with a little bit of scrubbing with Brillo.
I also do this for plastic containers of prepared food, freezer bags of blanched vegetables and packages of meat that go into the freezer. Just look at the date to determine which has been in there the longest, and use those first.
Keep it clean
Every week I wipe down each shelf of the fridge with warm, soapy water. Keeping the fridge clean cuts down on food spoilage. (link to the USDA) I take this one step farther, and when I come home from grocery shopping, I wipe down each item with a sponge and warm, soapy water before it goes into the fridge or freezer. Who knows where that stuff has been, what the warehouse looks like, or how it was handled, right?
When cleaning the fridge, I check the expiration dates on unopened items, go through the produce drawer, and move older stuff toward the front of the shelves to make sure I use that first. This is also a good time to take a quick inventory, and add what I need to my shopping list.
Another way to cut down on waste is to freeze food right away if you have a little too much of something. When I make a big pot of soup for instance, I know that I won’t eat all of it within the next few days. I will save a little in the fridge, and put the rest in small containers that hold about 2 servings each, then stack them in the freezer. Finding small, easily thawed containers of already-cooked food is a real bonus when I have a busy week and don’t have time to cook.
Once you get in the habit of doing this, you are going to find that you will be tossing out a lot less stuff!