For many people the refrigerator is where good food goes to die, even though it was placed there with the best of intentions; “I’ll make this on Thursday!” but Thursday rolls around, you get home late and just grab some takeaway. Your precious ingredients left to wither and rot in their abandonment. Food waste is a sad problem in North America and the guilt of neglecting food often causes us to leave it sitting in the fridge way longer than it should. It happens to the best of us, but here are 24 things you can feel alright about disposing of because if they’re in your fridge, they’ve really gotta go!

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1. Unidentified Leftovers

If you can’t identify what it is (or should I say, was) then it’s probably high time you get it out of your fridge for good. Yes, that may feel like a waste of food, but seriously, it’s time to let go.

Make sure you check the very back of your fridge shelves where these unidentified objects like to hide out the most.

2. Raw Meat >2 Days Old

Some raw meats like roasts, steaks, and chops can handle a few days in the fridge before they’re cooked into something tasty. However, with others like ground meats, poultry and fish shouldn’t sit in waiting for more than 2 days.

If you have some raw meat in your fridge that’s older than this, don’t gamble, just dispose. You wouldn’t want to risk any food poisioning after supper!

3. Expired Condiments

How often do you use that bottle of XO sauce, smoky artisan mustard or gluten-free Caesar salad dressing? I’m a self-professed condiment queen, but if your fridge is overflowing with sauces, it’s time to check the dates.

I’m all for pushing the limits on expiration dates, especially when it comes to condiments, but if something if far past its best before date, it’s time to get rid of it.

4. Opened Stock/Broth

Many recipes call for stock or broth but not enough of it to use up a whole carton. I bet you can guess what happens next; yep, that half-carton of stock sits in the fridge, gets pushed to the back and forgotten about completely.

Dispose of these, and then next time freeze and label the leftover stock so you can use it the next time you need a smaller amount.

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5. Rock Hard Lemons

If you’re like me you never buy just one lemon, even if that’s all you need. I always buy extra for drinks, or future recipes but they can sometimes get forgotten about and become dry little lemon stones in the bottom of the fruit drawer.

If those lemons are dehydrated, have shades of brown and dull yellow instead of vibrant lemon yellow, it’s time to toss them out!

6. Withered Ginger

Ginger probably isn’t something you use daily, do no matter how you store it in your fridge, odds are that it’s going to go wrinkly and wither up at some point.

Once this point is passed, it’s probably lost its zing, and there’s just no use keeping it in your fridge any longer.

7. Anything with Traces of Mold

Mold can be a good thing if we’re talking about cheese, but if you see it on anything else in your fridge it’s a good indicator that your food has some bacterial growth going on.

Don’t keep these things hanging out in your fridge like some sort of 4th-grade science project, toss at first sign of mold.

8. Old/Unused Food Gifts

I always say “The best souvenir is an edible souvenir.” However, if your fridge is home to some old/unused food gifts from your travel-happy friends and family, consider making some space and getting rid of the stuff you’re not going to use.

Give away anything that’s still good to someone who might actually eat it and toss the rest in the bin.

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9. Slimy Greens

Greens can be a tricky food to keep on hand. They don’t have a very long shelf life and their life cycle usually goes from crisp to limp, to slime in as little as a few days. I use wilted greens in smoothies but unfortunately, there’s no saving salad slime.

If this happens to you, say a silent prayer for the nutrients you never saw and toss it into the bin, then try to eat your greens asap the next time.

10. Old Onions

Many onions have died a slow death in my kitchen for this very reason. Sometimes you need only half an onion for whatever creation you’re whipping up, but what do you do with the other half? If you’re me, you wrap it or put it in a container and put it in the fridge for the next time you need some onion.

Good intentions of course, but often that day never comes and later you find a sad shriveled onion half which smells more like someone’s underarm than anything else. Use it within a few days or toss it.

11. Beans

Have you ever opened too many cans of beans to make chili or stirfry and have just popped those cans in the fridge to use later?

Well, later has arrived and you never used them! Those beans are probably very dry and possibly even moldy, so make sure you toss them out as soon as possible.

12. Refrigerator Door Dairy Products

Have you been drinking a little less coffee than you used to? How about checking on all your creams and milk cartons that are on your fridge door.

Not only are these cartons probably well past their expiry date, but they could have gone bad even earlier than that because of the fluctuating temperature that would occur when people opened and closed the fridge.

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13. Leftover Take Out

You spent way too much money on takeout and were full before you could finish it! Shoving it in the fridge and telling yourself that you’ll eat it later is a really nice way of reconciling you getting your money’s worth.

Unfortunately “later” never happened and now you’re stuck with a big takeout container in your fridge. It’s now time to toss your takeout!

14. Preserved Meats

Cold cuts are an easy food that you can use to make school sandwiches and even add to a breakfast wrap as you head out the door to work in the morning.

When they’re left too long in the fridge (especially in a non-airtight container) they tend to either get slimy or get really dried out. Either way, that’s not the type of meat you should be eating, so toss it in the trash.

15. Food That’s Been Picked Over

Do you have a favorite food that you’ve been picking at with a spoon over and over? How about cake icing or cookie dough?

Every time you double dip, you’re adding your lovely bacteria into the mix which is definitely not sanitary. How about we just throw that out and start over?

16. Expired Medicine

Keeping some medicine in the fridge is often one of the instructions given on many medicines. A lot of families even have a designated area in their fridge for it!

Go through the medicine you have in your fridge and check on those expiry dates, while also tossing out any old prescription medication you no longer require.

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17. Old Opened Cheese

Some may think that cheese can last forever – if it’s not moldy it’s OK right? Well not exactly. Many types of hard cheese such as parmesan can keep for quite a while especially if it hasn’t been opened. However, once you open the cheese it begins to lose moisture and over time will go bad.

If you’ve been storing opened hard cheese for more than 3-6 weeks and opened soft cheese for more than 2 weeks, it is time to toss! It’s best to eat your cheese fresh and straight away. In conclusion, avoid this by purchasing smaller quantities of cheese at a time.

18. Bacon >1 Week

Are you thinking about stocking up on bacon at the grocery store? You might want to wait. Bacon can only store in the fridge for one week whether it’s cooked or raw!

If you’re still holding onto bacon that’s over a week old it’s time to toss it away! To prevent wasted bacon simply buy only what you need and cook it that same week. Alternatively, you could store it in the freezer for up to 6 months!

19. Moldy, Wilted, or Soggy Berries

Nothing quite compares to delicious fresh berries. They’re crisp, sweet, and tart and a healthy way of quenching a sweet tooth craving!

However, nothing is worse than biting into a soggy berry! Make sure you eat them up quickly as they’ll only keep for about 3-5 days. If your berries are wilted, moldy or soggy toss them in the trash!

20. Browned Mushrooms

Some may not know the warning signs that indicate mushrooms are going bad. If they’re stored properly in a paper bag and not in an airtight container, they should keep for 4-7 days.

If you’re unsure of how old the mushrooms are there are a few warning signs to look out for. If the mushrooms have developed a strong odor, they’re darker or have dark spots, have wrinkles, or are slimy then it is time to throw them in the trash!

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21. Canned Foods

There has been an ongoing debate as to whether storing canned food in the fridge is safe. Some think that over time chemicals found in the tinned cans can leach into the food. While this won’t exactly happen for all foods its certainly a possibility for acidic foods such as canned tomatoes, or pasta sauces.

However, storing leftover canned food in the tin can could affect the flavor negatively. It could transfer a metallic flavor onto the food which is not exactly enjoyable. If you’re storing foods in their can in the fridge, throw them in the trash and next time remember to transfer the contents into a reusable container.

22. Darkened Pasta Sauce

Generally, when preparing pasta we’ll often use a whole jar (or can) of pasta sauce. However, if you’re using pasta sauce for pizza, or other recipes that don’t require a full jar we transfer the leftovers to the fridge.

Opened pasta sauce should be used within 3-5 days but it’s easy to forget when we put it in there in the first place. Luckily, there are a couple of warning signs that will indicate whether or not the pasta sauce has gone bad. First, the obvious one, if it has grown mold it is time to toss it. Secondly, tomato based pasta sauce that has gone bad will often turn from a bright red color into a deep maroon color and will often become thicker in consistency, if this is the case throw it in the trash!

23. Salsa

It’s so easy to open a jar of salsa and enjoy a delicious nacho snack all to yourself. However, once the leftovers make it back into the fridge it’s easy to forget about it.

Generally, salsa should last about 2 weeks once opened however if you can’t recall how long it’s been in the fridge, there are a few indicators you can look out for. You’ll know your salsa is bad if it’s thicker in consistency, if there is visible mold, if it smells unpleasant, or if it tastes extremely acidic and tangy. These indicators may not be present at all once so if you notice any one of them simply throw it away.

24. Baking Soda

Baking soda is used in baking but it is also often stored in our fridge. In the fridge, it’s purpose is to extinguish any disgusting odors by absorbing the smells.

While we place it in the fridge with good intentions it’s easy to forget when we put it in there. To ensure the baking soda is doing its job properly you really should be replacing it every 1-3 months. If it’s been in there for more than that, it’s time to toss it and replace!

Forkly Team

Keeping you relevant with fresh food news, trends, kitchen hacks and what to put in lunch sacks, Forkly offers you a healthy serving of lifestyle-friendly recipes, diet tips, tutorials, dining recommendations, party menus and oh so much more.

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