Cleaning out my fridge

Thanks to everyone who joined me for last night’s Facebook chat! If you missed it, don’t worry – we’ll meet up in the same place, at the same time next week.

I was looking for an onion. I found one, but I also found a squishy tomato and an oozing jalapeno. So much for that pico I was planning to make two weeks ago.

Luckily, this discovery happened the night before trash day, so I took the opportunity to toss a few more things from the fridge into the garbage. Sweet potatoes that I bought, even though I’m the only one who likes them? Growing spots. Whole wheat buns that I’d frozen back . . . a while ago? More stale than a bag of croutons. And then there was the frozen lettuce, the mystery leftovers and the many, many expired bottles of salad dressing.

A couple months ago, a friend mentioned how her mom is terrible about never throwing things – like expired food – away. I confessed that I had years-old boxes of bread mix in my pantry, and she yelled at me. “Mary! Go home right now and THROW IT AWAY!”

So I did. But even though we’d talked about salad dressings, too, I looked at my rows of colorful bottles and just couldn’t deal with it. Until this week. I finally found a spurt of motivation when I happened to have the fridge open and started chucking bottles.

I felt so organized after that! So accomplished. So responsible and together. I really do feel better about life in general when my pantry and refrigerator are somewhat organized. Like foods go together, things we use most often at the front and so on. I especially like it when I come home with bags of groceries to an organized kitchen. It makes putting them away a tiny bit less annoying.

Even though cleaning out my fridge was satisfying (and, you know, healthy), it’s not likely I’ll do it again for several weeks. And if you think that I scrubbed down every surface of the fridge after I tossed the bad veggies, leftovers and condiments, you are mistaken. Probably sadly. You are probably sadly mistaken, but most definitely mistaken.

See, that’s the thing about giving up on perfect and getting on with life. I’m not going to let my refrigerator – or any part of my home or life – spiral into total chaos. Or, if I do, it won’t stay that way for long. I’m going to do what must be done, but honestly? I’m not going to obsess over it. My house has cobwebs and cat hair and scuff marks. Not in the fridge – just to be clear – but you get my point.

Nothing here is perfect. But it’s not disastrous either. I’m trying to find that balance, and for me, that means tossing the rotten food but leaving the dishes for the morning.

How often do you clean out your fridge?


  1. God has been teaching me about balance too, especially with how I spend my time.

    But, to answer your question, I tend to organize my fridge regularly when I bring large amounts of groceries home and feel compelled to organize the fridge as I put them away. Although I’m pretty sure I have more salad dressings than any small family needs. Organizing is therapeutic for me.

    • Oh, and I want to add … last night’s dishes are still in the sink because I ran the dishwasher, which was full BEFORE dinner. Unloading and reloading it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time last night.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      What IS IT about salad dressings? Even after purging a bit, I still have 8 or 9!

  2. Not nearly often enough! I have the same problem with my cupboards– canned/boxed goods last forever, right? I thought so until I pulled something out last night that was “best used by” June of 2011. Scary. What’s worse is, my husband was like, “go ahead and make it, it will be fine!” Sigh.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Haha! I read somewhere that using box mixes past their dates can be dangerous, so I’m more careful now. (At least, when I find things I haven’t used, I throw them out instead of using them…can’t say they don’t get lost in my pantry, though!)

  3. Not nearly often enough! I have the same problem with my cupboards– canned/boxed goods last forever, right? I thought so until I pulled something out last night that was “best used by” June of 2011. Scary. What’s worse is, my husband was like, “go ahead and make it, it will be fine!” Sigh.

  4. i just did this the other night! i try to do it at least once a month. my mom is a hoarder of condiments …drives me insane! and she does not toss out when she should…

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Once a month is a good goal. I should try that…although I am just not sure I can quit hoarding condiments myself! ;)

  5. 4 days without power surrounding Hurricane Sandy kinda forced us to clean out our fridge… my hubby did most of the hard work! :) now my fridge AND freezer are clean and mostly empty… restocking slowly! :)

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Oh no!! Losing power does force this chore, that’s for sure. I hope your fridge and freezer suffered the only damage and that you’re recovering quickly from the hurricane!

  6. Love it!!! Now I gotta go clean my fridge and pantry!!!

  7. I make a point of going through the fridge trash day and getting rid of any questionable leftovers or juicy fruit/veggies. I hate throwing it out throughout the week b/c then it stinks up the kitchen trash can and scrubbing that out is a job I hate. So that’s motivation to keep it on schedule for trash day.

    At that point, like you said, it usually is a LOT easier to move things around, organize, and put things away. So I take that opportunity to make a mental note of the next two or three meals to use up remaining items. Dig through the freezer for things to thaw. Or make a shopping list for things we’re now out of.

    Of course, a lot of times I forget and this happens like every OTHER trash day. But… I try. And it does work.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      I try, too – and like you, usually on trash day. Somehow, though, the condiments in the door always seem to stick around past their expiration dates!

    • Haha, this is always my “plan” but I usually end up doing it the day of or after so just after trash is picked up. But at least the big can outside has plenty of room then!

      • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

        See, there you go – looking at the bright side. :) That’s what I tell myself, too – because WHY do I come up with the smelliest trash the day after trash day?!

  8. Guilty of neglecting this chore as well…and relating closely to your motivating moment when you found things that shouldn’t go ‘squish’. I remember a time when my fridge would shine…not feeling a need to go back to those ‘good?’ ole days!

  9. I will admit, the fridge is the one thing I don’t let up on. Every Sunday, I clean out the bad, wipe down the messes (which how does that shiz get so dirty anyway) and write my list for the following week. I try to empty my fridge by Sunday every week.

    This OCD only stems from the fact that once upon a time I didn’t do this and stuck my hand in some sort of fruit that had long lost it’s ability to show me what it was. I will never play that game again. I can still feel it on my hand.

  10. I’ve been reading A Slob Comes Clean for a couple of weeks now, maybe longer (I lose track of time!), and saw that she’d featured your blog tonight….and I had to laugh when I saw the links. I’d finally had enough of the shelves with too much stuff, so I cleaned my refrigerator out this afternoon.. I’ll admit I did take the shelves and top drawer out and washed them in the sink, then wiped down the walls before putting them back. And I, too, threw away expired things…including 2 packages of bacon I’d forgotten were in there. And I was feeling good about it until I saw a comment about canned and boxed goods. My pantry is large and I know there are expired things in there. Sigh.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading your blog, too. I bought a house five and a half years ago…and had way too much stuff. Shortly after, I was involved in an auto accident and any hope of weeding things out was put on the back burner for a few years. NOW I’m back to normal…and ready to start getting rid of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff…because it’s hard to pretend you have a clean house when you have enough STUFF for two houses. :)

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Thank you for coming by, Kristy! I’m totally envious of your clean fridge – mine is fairly organized, but definitely NOT clean. Yuck!

  11. I’m not great about cleaning out my refrigerator, either. I hate doing it. I tried to get in the habit of doing it the day before grocery store day but I’m hit and miss. I usually clean it out when I have a few extra minutes or it gets too full. My husband is great about cleaning it out. I love that!

    I never take everything out and clean the whole thing. I just “clean” it when a shelf is nearly empty. I guess you could call that cleaning as you go.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      We just put our house on the market – after cleaning every single inch of the house. EXCEPT the inside of the refrigerator! I really DO need to do it. I keep it pretty well organized, but under all that food? ICK.

  12. We just put our house on the market, too. We’ve shown it 17 times and boy is it getting old having to keep the house perfect and find stuff to do all the time while people look. Hope mine and yours sells soon.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Good luck with your house, Patty! Whew! I’m frustrated with only ONE showing so far…but thinking of 17 makes me tired!

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