Tales From a Refrigerator Bag Lady
Day 1 Task: Declutter and purge fridge and freezer, clean.
There comes a time in every person’s life when you’re forced to face uncomfortable truths about yourself. Last week I experienced such a moment when I opened my refrigerator to start cleaning it out. I stood there for a time, letting all the cold air escape, and with it this inescapable fact: I am a messy refrigerator bag lady.
What is a refrigerator bag lady, you ask? A refrigerator bag lady comes home from her CSA pickup and takes the path of least resistance, haphazardly storing her produce in plastic grocery bags, often without properly prepping or separating the vegetables beforehand. A refrigerator bag lady knows the rules of storing fruits and vegetables but wimps out on them from time to time. A refrigerator bag lady would be so much happier, her produce that much better off, and her refrigerator much more pleasant and organized if she stopped with the grocery bags and moved on to zip-top plastic bags or other glass containers.
I am a refrigerator bag lady. Help.
This had to end, and end now. So, with new focus and determination, I unloaded everything in my fridge. I piled those plastic bags on my countertop, peeking in a few as I did so. Ah yes, that’s where that green pepper ended up. Whoops! Forgot I’d stuck that garlic bulb in with my kale. Aw crap, my beet greens are wilted! Along with the bags came a container of what I think was once leftover babaganoush, mounds upon mounds of apples in the crisper drawer (still fine, thankfully), a small hunk of very moldy parmesan, and teeth whitening trays (which I have neglected to use yet because they require me to not drink coffee and/or red wine for 10 days. Yeah, exactly.)
And then the cleaning began.
I filled a bucket in the sink with hot water, dish soap, and a splash of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in peppermint (my favorite all-purpose soap). I unwrapped a brand-new scrubby sponge, took out every shelf in the fridge, and scrubbed them in the sink, letting all the crumbs, the spills, the funky smells wash down the drain. And when I discovered that the very wide crisper shelf was too unwieldy to clean in my kitchen sink, and kept dripping dirty water all over the floor? I washed it in my bathroom tub. You do what you gotta do.
After the shelves were washed and every surface inside the fridge wiped clean, I replaced my food items, assessing them one by one to see which would make the cut. Back in went the eggs, butter, almond milk, and half-and-half; back in went the mustard, tahini, the jar of flax seeds, a container of cooked steel cut oats, and all the apples, while my (very) ripe bananas went into the freezer. A few that didn’t make the cut: the old babaganoush, the empty (yes, empty!) yogurt container, an expired bottle of fish oil tablets (eh, I guess I’ll just eat more actual fish now), and a green bell pepper with a nice coat of grey mold.
And the plastic grocery bags? I replaced them with nicer-looking zip-top and bulk bin bags. Everything is clear and divided, so I can see what vegetables I have and what state they’re in. (I now know I need to use my basil pronto.)
Are you a refrigerator bag lady? What do you expect to see when you clean out your fridge today?
Food Storage Tips from The Kitchn
- A Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables
- A Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables Without Plastic
- How To Remember Where to Store Fruits and Vegetables
- Making the Switch from Plastic? The Best Glass Food Storage Containers to Buy
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(Images: Cambria Bold)