Special Kind of Crazy: Expiration Date Edition

Admit it, right now there are jars in your refrigerator that haven’t been opened since Obama was elected. We all have them, well, unless you’re me (or my roommate) (or my parents) (or if I’ve stayed at your house for the weekend). My “special kind of crazy” involves checking the expiration dates on all the condiments in my refrigerator – and sometimes, to be perfectly honest, other people’s refrigerators, with permission of course! There is something so wonderfully satisfying about purging any expired bottles and jars from those always over-crowded fridge door shelves.

Living in NYC, I’ve moved into new apartments with already settled in roommates and nothing makes me feel more settled in than the great condiment shelf clean! It should be horrifying to discover a bottle of peanut sauce stamped with “Best Before October 2007” when it is currently 2012, but oddly enough, cleaning up this little square of the world makes me feel energized and ready for something new! Really anytime I can create space and order in a place that is usually messy and over-crowded, I feel a bit of a rush, but it’s heightened with the refrigerator. It’s meant to be a quick grab-and-go space, as well as being a place we see multiple times a day – why not make it more joyful, or at the very least, more functional. Like any “good-feeling” junkie, my own kitchen can only provide this cleansing high so many times before the bottles and jars are all up to date, so I need to take my cleansing elsewhere. I get a fix twice a year when I visit my parents in California and clear their shelves. I’ve been known to “help” friends with their refrigerators as well – they think I’m a saint for taking on the nasty task – little do they know, it was my plan all along, hahaha!

My hunt for the past date condiments has a practical advantage as well – I rarely have to throw out expired products (of my own), which can definitely add up to savings in my grocery budget.  I also take this time to group items by use.  The makings of a healthy and delicious salad dressing are grouped together, likewise with sandwich schmears and fixin’s.  I like to stack my yogurts by expiration date as well, latest date on the bottom, so I’m never eating “Good Until July 1st” on June 15th, when there’s a June 16th sitting on the shelf being ignored.  These simple steps take very little effort when unloading the groceries, but can make a world of difference in the amount of old food thrown out in a year.

Post authored by Erin Jerozal 

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