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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

It’s National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

November 14, 2022 | Leave a Comment

by Kathy Austin

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Refrigerator with door open showing a mix of fresh food and leftovers.

Yikes, it’s a science experiment! Do you have one of these growing in your fridge? It’s so easy to miss a food item we think we’ll eat later only to have it hiding on the bottom shelf, Way in the back. Possibly dripping into your crisper drawer. Yuk!

When you throw vision loss into the mix, these science experiments might happen more often in your fridge.

The holiday season is always full of lots and lots of food. Whether you are cooking for others, preparing a dish to take to a gathering or want to make room for those delicious leftovers, you’ll want to make sure your fridge is ready to handle it all.

November 15 is National Clean Out your Refrigerator Day. In honor of the day, we offer these tips to help ensure your fridge is spic and span.


Make it Easy in the First Place

Checking your refrigerator each week will make this task a little less dreadful. Doing this chore each week not only takes less time, but eliminates any possible food poisoning issues. Garbage day might be the day you designate as clean out day.

Choose a day each week to eat leftovers. This way you’ll know they are not too old to consume. Most food safety guidelines suggest leftovers should be eaten within four days. After that, the possibility of food poisoning goes up.


Organizing Helps

Store the oldest items in the front of the fridge and the new items in back. This eliminates some of the guess work when trying to figure out what items you want to use first.

Keep similar items together. Perhaps you keep all your bottles of salad dressing in the fridge door, leftovers on the second shelf on the right side, eggs on the left and fresh meat on the bottom shelf. Remember the old saying to help keep you organized, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Use different sizes and shapes of tubs or plastic baskets from the dollar store to corral perishable items. For example, if you use only half a lemon, store it in  plastic wrap or bag, then place it in one tub designated for half used items like this. You’ll know to check there first before cutting into a new item.

Make sure to wrap half-used items like vegetables or fruits in plastic wrap or in a small sandwich bag to reduce odor transfer. Also, do not store fruits and vegetables together. They will last longer separated.

This food storage chart from can help you decide what to keep and for how long


Label It!

Masking tape can really help with labeling. Place a piece of masking tape on the container or plastic storage bag. With a bold marker, write the date you last used or bought the product. For a tactile label, use Puff paint.

For freezer items, write the date and product name on an index card and rubber band it to secure. If the package has been opened and not all used, you can adjust the date on the card.


Check the Dates

What do those expiration dates really mean? You may want to become familiar with the phrases food manufacturers use to tell you what the expiration date on a product means. Sell by, use by and best if used by are common phrases that can be confusing. So you don’t throw away perfectly good food, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service explains the terms. Here is a quick summary of each, however, none of these are safety dates.

  • Best if used by: indicates when a product is at its best flavor or quality.
  • Sell by: a date stores will use to determine how long to display a product.
  • Use by date: last date recommended to consume the product.

For reading the sell by and use by or freshest if used by dates, you can try BeMyEyes or Aira. Have the items out and ready for your sighted help to assist.


Trust Your Other Senses

You can always trust your nose – if it smells, throw it out.

If a frozen product has a lot of ice crystals on it, it most likely has freezer burn and it won’t be at its maximum flavor.

Slimy, soft or otherwise indistinguishable items should be tossed.

And in all cases, if you are not sure, the best rule of thumb is to throw it away.


Kathy is is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense

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