Overstocked fridge? Your food could spoil

It’s tempting to load up on multiples of milk, eggs, meat, ice cream and other refrigerated staples when you’re making fewer trips to the grocery store to limit your risk of catching coronavirus.

But a bulging refrigerator or freezer might mean that your food is packed so tightly together that it won’t stay cold.

Here two problems that an overstuffed refrigerator or freezer can cause:

  • Blocked airflow. If air can’t move between food items, the fridge has to work extra hard to stay cold enough to keep them at a safe temperature. That can leave some foods warm rather than cold, and that can speed up spoiling and invite bacteria.
  • You can’t see everything. Items that you push to the back could be forgotten until after their expiration dates, which is wasteful.

If someone in your family is exposed to coronavirus, you’ll have to quarantine everyone inside for two weeks.

So you only need two weeks’ worth of food until someone can go shopping again. Your refrigerator can probably handle that.

Some tips for keeping your food safe and the fridge from overflowing:

  • Buy canned meats, like tuna, which don’t need refrigeration.
  • Plan some meals that don’t require meat or fish, like pasta with tomato sauce or rice and beans.
  • After each shopping trip, move any food that’s in the back of the fridge to the front, and plan to serve it before the new stuff.
  • Eat your leftovers. Too often, remnants from yesterday’s dinner sit forgotten until they spoil. Don’t take up precious refrigerator space with food you’ll never eat. Plan to use all leftovers within two days of the original meal. Store them all on the same shelf—right up front—so you’ll be reminded to heat them up every time you open the refrigerator door.
  • Use what you already have before you buy more food. Check your pantry for an oversupply of canned soup, cake and muffin mixes, and boxed items like mac ’n cheese or spaghetti.
  • Make a two-week meal plan and list the ingredients you will need to prep them. That will become your grocery list. Bringing a list to the market with you will guide you so you won’t buy more than you need or have room to store.