Creating space
April 5, 2019
by Ivan Raconteur

The icebox at the bachelor estate came with the house, and it is much larger than what I need.

However, it had been feeling rather cramped lately.

It seemed like I was always having to wedge things in, and sometimes, when I brought home refreshing adult beverages, it was a puzzle to find a place for them.

I finally got around to cleaning out the refrigerator last weekend, and I think I have found the root of the problem.

It turns out the working capacity of the appliance was much less than the advertised capacity.

There is a slim chance this may have been due to operator failure, which surprised me because I am well-acquainted with the principle of rotating inventory. As in so many cases though, knowing what one should do is not the same as doing it.

I dug in and disposed of all the outdated items.

It was an educational experience.

The first thing I learned is that I should be buying salad dressing in the smallest possible containers, regardless of price.

I discovered several bottles of salad dressing that were more than half full, but past their prime.

Condiments in general can be troublesome for a single person who lives alone. I think I’d be better off collecting some of those little single-use packets you see at fast food restaurants.

I found that I had two bottles of lemon juice and two of lime, all well past their “best by” date.

I suspect that was the result of one of those grocery store decisions where I couldn’t remember if I had lemon juice (or lime juice), or couldn’t remember if it was still good, so I bought another bottle. In the end, all four bottles expired before I used them.

There were some sad looking fruit and vegetables lurking in the crisper drawer. I have good intentions when it comes to fresh produce, but I also have a lazy streak a mile wide, so sometimes these items go bad before I get around to eating them. I might do OK for a day or two after I bring them home, but after that, the future becomes uncertain.

I’m a dedicated turophile, but the remnants of assorted cheeses near the back of the fridge did nothing to pique my appetite.

I’m never sure what to do about pickles. I have a vague suspicion that if I can’t remember buying them, they may have been there too long. The same is true with salsa. There were at least three partial bottles of salsa of unknown vintage.

I found a large unopened container of plain yogurt lurking in the southwest back corner of one of the shelves. I’m sure I purchased that for some recipe I intended to make, but there was no way I was going to open the lid to check the contents. That one went straight into the bin with no questions asked.

The freezer was not much better.

There were a few items near the bottom that I couldn’t identify without scraping off the layers of permafrost, and something told me it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

It reminded me of my college days when I visited my mother. She had a fun game we called Freezer Roulette. She always wanted to feed us, and she had a freezer full of options, but Ma wasn’t very good about marking the packages so we never knew what we were getting.

She had piles of packages wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic, or perhaps in miscellaneous containers. The problem was, there was no way of knowing if they had been put in there last week or three years ago.

I suppose Ma figured she’d remember what was in these things, but her track record of guessing the contents wasn’t much better than ours. We had some pretty funky meals in those days, but starving students can’t afford to be picky.

In any case, the big thing I learned during my weekend adventure is that my refrigerator is a lot bigger inside than I thought it was. It turns out I was only using the front 50 percent or so.

Once I got rid of all the outdated stuff, it was much easier to put the groceries away. I was so excited that I almost decided to implement a regular schedule for cleaning the fridge.

I’m thinking about tackling the pantry next weekend, but I’ll probably need a nap before I start. I’ll also have to make sure my new improved icebox is fully stocked. Inventory management is thirsty work.

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