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Kitchen fridge clean-up: What to keep and what to nix

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Clean up your fridge

When it comes time to cleaning up the fridge, you may find yourself frozen cold, standing in front of it with the door wide open, at a loss of how to get started. Where to begin? What should you keep? What should you ditch? Don't let kitchen fridge clean-up leave you cold. Here are some easy ways to decide what to keep and what to nix.

Woman opening fridge

1Give it time

You have to suck it up and dedicate a good chunk of time to giving your fridge a good clean-up and a fresh start, so cancel your party plans (not really, just pick a day when you've got nothing going on) and make a date with your fridge.

2Empty it out

Pull everything out of your fridge. You may not even realize what you've got in there. Scary! Go shelf by shelf, and pull out the entire shelves' contents.

3Check the date

Check the expiration date on everything from milk and yogurt to meats and cheeses. If you're unsure, do a simple sniff test. Anything that smells (or looks) funky should get the heave-ho. Now is not the time to be nice. Ditch anything you feel might be toeing the line in terms of freshness. If raw meat has turned from pink/red to brown, it's time to say good-bye. If your leftovers have been hangin' out in there for more than a week, toss 'em. In the freezer, throw out anything that looks like it's been bitten by Jack Frost.

4Condiment keepers

Condiments can generally last a pretty long time in the refrigerator, but be sure to take special note beyond simply checking the expiration date. Some may indicate the product be used within X amount of time after opening the bottle for the best freshness. When you open a product with these types of specifications, mark the date you opened it on the lid, or somewhere conspicuous.

5Give your fridge that fresh feeling

You know how good you feel after you get out of the shower? When's the last time you've given your fridge a good scrub down? While you've got it emptied out, take the time to clean each shelf and drawer, as well as the interior walls. Once you are finished, give the outside a good wipe down as well.

6Organize it

Once you've decided what to keep and what to nix, organize your food in a way that makes it enticing (particularly that fresh produce!). Pre-wash/prep anything you can to make it grab-and-go friendly for healthy snacking or meals on the go.

Check out more nutritious and delicious snack ideas >>

7Replace it, replace it, replace it

Now that you've got a clean fridge, this is a perfect opportunity to fill it up with healthy foods. Replace your whole fat milk with skim, your soda cans with 100 percent juices or fruit-flavored seltzer waters, and in lieu of your favorite ice cream, try a yummy frozen fruit sorbet or a bag of frozen mangoes.

Don't miss these easy (but nutritious!) ingredient swaps >>

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