Parents Need to Eat Too

Guest Post: Decluttering Your Refrigerator and Freezer

Guest Post: Decluttering Your Refrigerator and Freezer

Leah Ingram is one of my writer idols. She’s written more than a dozen books, and if you’ve read a magazine in the last decade I can pretty much guarantee you’ve seen her byline. Suddenly Frugal, her blog (and book), is devoted to living well on as little money as possible. Seriously, this woman knows how to make a quarter feel like a Benjamin.

Leah’s new book is Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In. When she asked which of her fellow writers would like to host her virtual blog tour, I jumped at the chance; Leah’s a font of useful information, and lord knows I can use a few new tips for saving money.

If you’ve been reading Words to Eat By for a while, you’re likely familiar with the state of my freezer, and maybe even my fridge. In this guest post, Leah tells us what stays good, where, for how long.

I’m proud to say I already use a Sharpie on my freezer bags, as Leah advises, and I regularly consult Still Tasty for details on specific foods. What’s your best tip for making the most of the deep-freeze?

Decluttering Your Refrigerator and Freezer
By Leah Ingram, author of Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In

It’s important to keep in mind that the food in your refrigerator doesn’t keep forever. Even items that you freeze so that they don’t rot immediately have expiration dates, too. These items need to be used within a certain amount of time, or they’re not going to give you the quality food that you expected when you first purchased them.

A great way to get started with decluttering your refrigerator and freezer is to purge any food that is past its prime. I realize that I’m asking you to throw away good money, but to be honest, once you let food sit around for too long, you’ve already thrown away good money. I’m just encouraging you to actually put the stuff in the trash.

Here is a brief rundown on how long certain foods retain top quality in the refrigerator and the freezer. This will allow you to plan accordingly when you go food shopping and make sure that you don’t overbuy (thus creating clutter in the fridge) and end up throwing away food that expires before you’re able to use it.

Food: Chicken and turkey
Time in the Refrigerator: One to two days
Time in the Freezer: Nine months to one year

Food: Ground beef or ground turkey
Time in the Refrigerator: One to two days
Time in the Freezer: Three to four months

Food: Fresh deli meats
Time in the Refrigerator: Three to five days
Time in the Freezer: One to two months

Food: Hot dogs
Time in the Refrigerator: One week (open package); two weeks (new package)
Time in the Freezer: One to two months

Food: Bacon
Time in the Refrigerator: One week
Time in the Freezer: One month

Food: Bread
Time in the Refrigerator: One week
Time in the Freezer: Three to four months

Food: Milk
Time in the Refrigerator: Use by expiration date
Time in the Freezer: One month (make sure you empty out a little milk before freezing it in its plastic container to allow extra space for expansion when it freezes)

Food: Cheese
Time in the Refrigerator: Use by expiration date; if you see mold on hard cheese, you can cut if off and eat the rest
Time in the Freezer: Four to six months (be sure to put cheese in freezer-safe bags first)

Food: Fresh fish
Time in the Refrigerator: One to two days
Time in the Freezer: Three to six months

Food: Eggs
Time in the Refrigerator: Four to five weeks
Time in the Freezer: Never freeze eggs in the shell. For instructions on how to freeze them safely, check out Still Tasty.

Food: Leftovers
Time in the Refrigerator: Three to four days
Time in the Freezer: Two to three months

Also, keep in mind that from here on in, you should take a marker and write on all of your food packages, in big letters that you’ll be able to read through any frost on the package, the “use by” date. You’ll write this based on the life spans described in this accompanying chart. Then be sure that you stock your food in the refrigerator or freezer with the oldest stuff towards the front so it’s easier for you to find it and use it first.

Copyright 2011 Leah Ingram, Reprinted with permission from Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In. (Adams Media, 2010)

 

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