She Blinded Me With Science

Are you a mad scientist? Almost everyone is by default. Don’t believe me? Just go to the back of your refrigerator and dig out those leftovers from yesteryear. And don’t forget to check your veggie drawers. There’s probably a cucumber oozing some kind of slime that takes you back to your junior high biology class.

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The truth is, it doesn’t take long for those leftovers to get away from us. We hoard, pack, stack, cram, and push as much as we can into the fridge, hoping it will keep up with all of our meals past, present and future. But what can you do to stop the mold so Alexander Fleming doesn’t come a-knockin’ looking for an advanced form of penicillin?

Like you, I work full-time, so that last thing I want to do is spend my weekend cleaning out containers that smell like I should have just thrown them away along with their contents. So here are a few suggestions that have worked for me and my busy schedule:

Make a menu and corresponding grocery list.
I talked about this in last week’s blog. A good reason why I like making a menu is that it keeps my refrigerator clutter-free. If you are conjuring up a meal on the fly, chances are you’ll need to make a trip to the store. We’ve all been there—we can’t remember whether we are out of a particular ingredient, so we buy it anyway only to find out when we get home that already we had a full bottle, or two. Planning ahead cuts down the clutter.
 
Only go to the store once a week, or less.
Waste not, want not. I love getting my refrigerator’s balance to zero. It’s not the most comforting to Judah, but I love knowing that I have used everything I bought and wasted nothing, or very little. Besides, the more you frequent the grocery store, the more groceries you will buy, store, and eventually throw away. The menu and grocery list will help you avoid this.
 
Stop and think.
Before you put those leftovers away, ask yourself: Is this one meatball really worth saving? Am I going to eat this in the next three or four days? Would I pawn it off on an unsuspecting guest? If in doubt, throw it out. The longer it’s in your fridge, the less likely you are to eat it. Don’t take up valuable refrigerator real estate with food you’ll never use.
 
Label it.
It’s good to make a practice of labeling and dating your containers—that way you can immediately see what needs to go. It might even save you from opening a container that could make your neighbors rush to call the morgue to come and pick up a dead body.


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Schedule it.
Pick a day, any day. Whether it is once a week, every other week, or once a month—pick a day to clean out your fridge. The more often you clean it, the cleaner it will stay. I clean mine every other week. I love a clean, clutter-free fridge. It helps me de-stress when I know what is in my refrigerator and I that can easily see what I need. A bonus: I am never afraid of someone else looking in my fridge.

So whether you are a mad scientist, hoarder, packer, stacker, crammer, or pusher, choose not to let that refrigerator get away from you anymore. Make a menu and a grocery list, limit your store visits, stop and think before you put that last piece of pickled mackerel in the fridge, label and date that bad boy, and schedule a time for cleaning. Don’t give Dr. Fleming a reason to knock at your door. De-clutter, de-leftover, and de-stress your refrigerator.


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