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How To Declutter Refrigerator Food: Old & Expired Items

Today's Declutter 365 mission is to declutter refrigerator food, specifically items that are old and expired, so you're only left with fresh edible items in your fridge.

How to #declutter refrigerator food that is old and expired, to make sure you're left only with fresh and edible items in your fridge {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101} #KitchenOrganizationuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

This mission is designed to be done while working on the Organizing Refrigerator & Freezer Challenge here on the site, which is one of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges.

Of course, you can do this mission whenever you need in your home.

Further, while I have this mission on the Declutter 365 calendar just once this year, it's not the kind of mission you only do once. Instead, treat today as the big clear out day, but then do smaller weekly versions of this mission the day before you go to the grocery store, to clear out old food and get your fridge ready for the newer food you'll be bringing in with your grocery trip (I suggest doing this on trash day, or the day before your trash day).

This is a pretty straight foward decluttering mission, but it can be quite important. After all, think about how many times per day you or a family member actually open your refrigerator? I bet it's quite a few.

Plus, clearing out the old and expired food will not only make it easier to organize, but it's also a food safety issue. You don't want anyone eating something too old and getting sick, or having rotting food in your fridge that could contaminate the fresh and edible things also in there.

How to #declutter refrigerator food that is old and expired, to make sure you're left only with fresh and edible items in your fridge {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101} #KitchenOrganizationuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Three Choices When Decluttering Food

As always, when decluttering food there are three choices you can make for each item.

The first is to eat the food within the near future, before it goes bad or becomes too old.

That's why meal planning is so important, to help you plan to eat these quickly perishable items.

It's also why today we're also focused on planning to eat leftovers from our refrigerators, to avoid food waste. (You can check out the linked article for more discussion on this topic.)

Your second choice when decluttering food is to donate it. This is much more difficult to do with food from refrigerator though, just because a lot of it is perishable, or it cannot be donated once it is opened.

Therefore, inevitably, there is going to be a lot of choice number three as we work through today's mission -- trashing old food (or placing appropriate food in a compost pile).

I hate wasting food, and trashing items, so I get the cringe factor many of us will feel as we throw away food we spent good money on, especially while there are other people in this world who are hungry.

I know. It sucks. But today go ahead and get rid of that old inedible stuff, and start fresh. You'll be focused later in the week on cleaning and then organizing your fridge, so this waste and spoilage of food will be much less likely to occur in the future.

Declutter Shelf By Shelf, Drawer By Drawer

Printable refrigerated food storage guidelines cheat sheet

When doing this mission I suggest decluttering one shelf or drawer at a time. Pull out everything from that shelf or drawer and then decide if it will go back into the refrigerator, or instead get thrown into the trash.

Removing everything from the entire shelf can help you find something that has gotten shoved back into the back, and gotten hidden. This is often when you find the stuff that needs to be decluttered the most.

Look at the condition of produce, or the expiration date on jars or bottles to help you decide what you should keep.

In addition to looking at sell by, best by, and expiration dates, it is also important to understand that once you open an item the time begins to tick for when you need to finish it, or throw it away.

To help you I've got a free printable refrigerated food storage guidelines cheat sheet you can reference, so print out your copy to look at as you declutter.

Once you've done the shelves and drawers, you'll see quite a visible difference inside your refrigerator, just like this reader, Camisha, below, who sent in these two photos.

Before and after when you #declutter old and expired food from your refrigerator {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Declutteringuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Don't Forget To Clear The Clutter From The Refrigerator Door

In addition, along with the shelves and drawers in your refrigerator, make sure you also clean out old food, and other items, like condiments, that you may store on your refrigerator door.

Here are a couple photos sent in by Rohana, who decluttered her refrigerator door of old items. She also took the time to scrub the shelves on the door.

Before and after when you #declutter refrigerator door of old and expired food and condiments {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Declutteringuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

It's OK If You Find Some Really Old Stuff!

As I mentioned before, When doing this mission today, if you haven't done it for a while, it is not uncommon to find some pretty old stuff in your fridge. That's OK. You're going to do this more frequently from now on, so it will never be this bad again.

Here are photos from readers who've already done this mission, showing what they pulled out of the refrigerator to throw away.

How to #declutter expired and old food from your refrigerator so you're left with fresh and edible food only {part of the #Declutter365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Declutteringuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

The photos in the collage above are from the following readers, from top to bottom, left to right:

  • Julli - "Expired/rotten food! Some dated 2008 😁."
  • Roberta
  • Angela - "We are a family of 6. We usually don't have leftovers with 2 teenagers. If I do it usually is only enough for one lunch. I prep my lunches on Monday in the crockpot. The only expired item's were a vanilla extract, grape jelly and celery."
  • Brandy - "I went through the fridge AND freezer today for leftovers that were bad or things that are old/we just were not going to finish. the oldest thing in there? A jar of yeast from 2011. I guess I havent made bread in a long time :P (though I think the steak sauce was older. I couldn't find a date) and yes, you DO see a xmas container. 3 of the containers were from xmas, and the whipping cream was solid."
  • Roberta - "Tackled refrigerator door, removing everything, cleaning door shelves, and keeping only what I use."; and
  • Cathy - "Casualties from the fridge."

After You Declutter It May Be Time To Stock Back Up At The Grocery

After doing this mission a reader, Nicole, sent in the photo below and said, "When you said to declutter the fridge, I didn't think it would look this empty when I was done. I am guessing some grocery shopping is in order."

Mostly empty refrigerator after doing the #Declutter365 mission to get rid of old and expired food {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

If you find you're in the same boat, go ahead and restock your refrigerator, but try to think through what you purchase a bit more to make sure you'll eat it all before it goes bad this time!

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!


Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

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