10 Must-Throw-Out Items Lurking in Your Fridge

You’ve changed your desk calendar, set your new intentions, and begun to declutter your spaces. One of the best aspects of a new year is the opportunity to get rid of what no longer serves you—or rather, what you can no longer serve. So if you’re ready to make a fresh start in your kitchen too, we can help. Here are a few things you might not have thought to get rid of for your refrigerator and pantry, but definitely should.

The Top Items to Toss Out and Start Fresh

1. Baking Soda

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Does baking soda even go bad? Kind of. Baking soda once opened loses its potency after 6 months. it can still be used in laundry or to unclog a sink, but if you’re trying to make a batch of soda bread, you’ll want a fresh box.

2. Baking Powder

The same goes for baking powder. Biscuits not getting the height you’d imagined? It might be due to your old leavener. According to the USDA, this item has an even shorter shelf life after opening—a whole 3 months. I know mine is definitely older than that.

3. Condiments

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This one is tricky. Some condiments’ shelf life will be extended significantly by being in the fridge and preventing you from having to buy another. But at the start of a new year, it’s best to check expiration dates and be honest with yourself. How old is that ketchup really? Is the crust on that mustard old enough to vote? Check your hot sauce while you’re at it, too.

4. Jam or Jelly

It may seem like certain jam jars are good forever but at the end of the year, it’s always good to check. High levels of sugar or acid with cooler temps can extend the life of jelly but not if they’ve been introduced to other things (like peanut butter) that can accelerate bacterial growth. Unopened jars last for up to a year in a cool pantry but it’s best to discard open jars in the fridge after 6 months.

5. Open Broth Cartons

Now that the last bit of pan drippings has been turned into gravy, it’s time to let that open container of vegetable or chicken broth go. Because most containers are opaque, it can be hard to tell whether that liquid has turned. Instead of leaving it in the container to slowly degrade, try freezing leftovers in an ice cube tray for perfectly portioned broth cubes for later. Future you will be grateful.

6. Soft Cheeses

This one might seem obvious but how many times have you looked at a wrapped cream cheese package and decided to leave it a bit longer? Soft cheeses especially have a short shelf life of about 1 to 2 weeks after purchasing, so say bye to that half-eaten Brie from your gathering last weekend.

7. Eggnog (and Other Seasonal Drinks)


Now that the holidays are over, it’s definitely time to get rid of the holiday party items from the fridge. Even the ultra-pasteurized, non-alcoholic stuff should be discarded after 14 days of being opened. Juice and other mixers that haven’t been used up should go, too. Their expiration date is similar.

8. Salad Greens

The last few weeks got crazy and the weekly container of salad greens were completely forgotten as they got pushed to the back of the fridge by holiday prep, desserts, and beverages.  Wilted, mushy, or slimy, it’s time to start fresh. And to keep your greens longer in the fridge, we have helpful storage tips here.

9. Mystery Items

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We’ve all looked at a Tupperware item and couldn’t remember what was once inside. Open to check and find a furry, smelly, unpleasant surprise! What even was that? Who remembers? Anything in the fridge that is very obviously gone bad should be tossed. And if you don’t feel like cleaning out a moldy container, maybe invest in a cute set that can go into the fridge, freezer, or oven.

10. Holiday Leftovers

If you still have leftovers after all the feasting, that’s impressive! Maybe you made or attended a huge meal and just had some extra ham, turkey, or mac and cheese in your fridge. At this point, they have definitely overstayed their welcome and should be tossed. Remember that leftovers really should be consumed within a week no matter how delicious they were or how long you reheat them. Make sure leftovers are stored efficiently after cooking (within two hours) in shallow containers in the fridge for up to five days and in the freezer for up to six months.