Easy Guide to Fridge and Pantry Cleaning

No reason to put off cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry. Just follow these tips and get the job done in no time.

There’s an expired half-empty bottle of juice in the back of the fridge behind the near-empty container of cottage cheese that’s turned an unappetizing shade of green. And was it last summer…or the summer before that you used half that bottle of barbecue sauce? Is the ketchup bottle stuck to the fridge door thanks to some leaky chocolate sauce?

And how about the pantry? Remember that time you needed bread crumbs for a recipe, and you only used half a cup? You saved the rest “for next time,” but next time still hasn’t come.

Whether this is an accurate depiction of your current situation, or you want to get the job done before it gets that bad, it’s time…time to clean out the fridge and pantry! But don’t carve out a whole day for this dreaded task. Cleaning is a breeze if you devote just 20 minutes a day for five days!

Day one: Don’t spare the spices. Get rid of old herbs and spices. If you’re not sure if they’re still good, just give them a sniff. If they don’t smell quite right—or if they don’t smell like anything anymore, toss them. Keep a list of what needs replacing. If you have more than one container of the same spice, consolidate them. Check your baking soda and baking powder, too. If they’re too old, they don’t work effectively in recipes.

Day two: Obliterate oils and grains. Use the sniff test for these items, too, and pitch anything that smells rancid or “off.” Look for signs of pantry moths or grain weevils.

Day three: Nullify the nuts and seeds. Once again, check for rancidity by tasting. For items that have been frozen, observe and taste for freezer burn.

Day four: Conquer the condiments. Just how long has that bottle of hot sauce been hiding out? When’s the last time you used that jar of pimientos? Toss out questionable fridge finds. Wipe drips off those you’re keeping, and give the fridge-door storage areas a cleaning with warm water and baking soda. Hunt down any forgotten leftover containers, too. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.

Day five: Face the freezer. Hellooooo in there! Get rid of those ice-caked hamburger buns from last summer. Say goodbye to the freezer-burned ice cream and that bag of shriveled frozen peas. Even in the freezer, nothing lasts forever. Put anything that is still good—but should be eaten soon—where you can see it.