Amanda Halls, R.D.N., L.D.
Food items can quickly expire in the refrigerator or get stuck in the far back corner, resulting in forgotten, potentially expired items. And sometimes food spills make a refrigerator look more like a science project than a storage place for food.
Here are some tips to keep your food healthy in the refrigerator:
- Throw away any food that may be questionable. Most canned items have an expiration date, but if there's no expiration date, use your best judgment. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Cleaning your refrigerator also is a good time to throw away any enticing, unhealthy food, such as whipped cream, chocolate syrup, frosting, salted caramel ice cream topping, full-fat mayonnaise, cheese sauce or whatever your downfall to losing weight might be.
- Remove all foods and items from your refrigerator and wipe the bottoms. Clean your refrigerator with warm dish soap and water, and then wipe it dry with a towel. This will prevent bacteria from growing in your refrigerator.
- At this point, it's also a good time to check the temperature and make sure your refrigerator is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
- Use the fruit and vegetable bins for their intended food occupants: fruits and vegetables. Stock up on these items, and make them easy to grab and eat by washing and cutting them into snack-size portions. Make snacking healthy by taking the effort out of the equation when cravings hit.
- Consider the colors of your fruits and vegetables — color matters. More intense color means more nutrients. Learn what eating the rainbow of colors can do for you.
- Choose low-fat mayonnaise, yogurt, cheese and milk. Reduced-fat cheese or milk are good second choices.
- Leave room on the bottom shelf to properly thaw frozen meats. Use a plate under the meat to catch any possible liquids and avoid contaminating other foods. Thawing meat in the refrigerator can take time, so plan ahead. Remember to thaw meat in the refrigerator rather than on the counter to avoid bacteria growth and foodborne illness.
- Give yourself time to thaw out other frozen foods in the refrigerator, depending on their size.