Turn your attention to the refrigerator during spring cleaning.
It’s the time of year that inspires people to have a fresh start with spring cleaning.
Instead of reorganizing the closets, though, how about turning your attention to the refrigerator?
Remember the stuff coming out of the refrigerator goes into your mouth.
Kathy Namolik, a dietician for Sarasota Memorial Hospital Diabetes Treatment Services, said cleaning the refrigerator could have positive influences on a person’s health — by eliminating food that’s past its prime and organizing your fridge to keep healthy items in plain view.
Get started by cleaning the refrigerator from top to bottom, keeping in mind to use cleaning products intended to be used on food surfaces.
Get rid of that bottle of sriracha with the crusty twist top, those 20 packets of soy sauce and the dozens of salad dressing bottles taking up space in the door. Are capers supposed to be fuzzy? How long has that satay peanut sauce jar been in there?
It’s likely some of the food is months past the expiration date. In reality, will you ever use any of those? Namolik suggests cleaning out condiments every six months as some lose their flavor anyway.
“Plan something around it so you can use it up,” Namolik said.
She suggested using stickers to mark the date the particular food went into the refrigerator. Then it’s easy to know how long the jar of spaghetti sauce has been taking up space on the shelf. It should be noted the door of a refrigerator is exposed to more heat when the door is opened and closed, so reserve the space for foods with a longer shelf life.
Once the cleaning is finished, it is time to divvy up the prime real estate in the remainder of the refrigerator.
Do healthy choices come into view when you open the door?
The shelves at eye level should be reserved for healthy foods or those with an upcoming expiration date.
Sight is a big deal when it comes to selecting something out of the refrigerator. Namolik said she keeps healthy choices like milk and nuts on the top shelf. That’s better than opening the refrigerator and seeing soft drinks at eye level.
And keep those healthy choices attractive with a little attention.
Berries, for example, might not last long and should be consumed in a few days. Berries also get a little soggy when they’re washed, so keep them in a container and take them out a few at a time, washing only the ones to be used.
“Sometimes when berries are wet that can speed up the breakdown of the fruit,” Namolik said. “Clear containers are good for the fridge because then you can see what’s in there. If not, you can just skim through and forget that something is there.”
Keeping an assigned space for different items like fruits, vegetables and leftovers will help you keep track of where to look for your needs.
She also noted that meats should go on the bottom shelf when thawing and always in a drip-proof container. Those juices can drop on to other foods.
The freezer side of your refrigerator is another space that needs to be de-cluttered. Meats, cheese, bread, vegetables and frozen treats can all be found in a typical freezer.
Although foods last longer in the freezer, it is easy to forget how long items have been in there.
“I look once a week when I’m planning my menu so that things are not sitting there too long,” Namolik said.
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