TODAY   |  April 03, 2013

Spring cleaning: Freshen up your fridge

TODAY diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom reveals her strategies for getting a fresh start when it comes to your fridge, revealing which items you should keep, discard or freeze to save money and stay healthy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> announcer: "new season new you" is brought to you by kellogg's special k products.

>>> we're back now "new season, new you." today a little spring cleaning for your fridge, it probably needs it. "today's" diet and nutrition editor madelyn, nice to see you.

>> nice to see you.

>> cleaning the inside of the fridge, the first step.

>> throw away the science experiments that have been pushed in the back because clean out the whole fridge and with a mild soapy detergent or baking soda , a couple tablespoons in a quart of water. you want to start with something that's clean, no fragrance because it's not good for you or food.

>> soapy water and baking soda .

>> right and store your things when you put everything back in, in clear containers that are leak proof so you don't have a mess. it looks nice and clean but you want to keep it that way.

>> we have to pause, this is critical. we see the different terms on packaging. let's go through, packed by date, sell by date, use by date and best by date. do you believe the dates on the packages?

>> the dates are correct except for packed on, that is no help. packing it makes no difference. when you have sell by that means the time that the supermarket can safely sell that, last day that can be on the supermarket shelf. it's good in your fridge for seven to ten days. if it's use by that's the guarantee if you use the food by that time it's safe and if you use it afterwards it's sort of at your own risk. probably the most helpful thing is best by. that means you can use it after the date in terms of the best date but you may lose some flavor but beware, nothing lasts forever and all bets are off if you open the package because then you only have seven days so if you have a package of hotdogs with two months expiration and in ten days they turn green, once you open something you have about a week.

>> a carton of milk expires april 3rd do i need to dump it april 3rd ?

>> technically that's when it's guaranteed. maybe not the 3th but 4th or 5th.

>> let's talk about optimal temperature. i confess it's a little lower than i thought it would be.

>> something below 40 to prevent bacterial growth and stick your head in the fridge test to see if it feels cold is not something that's going to work. get a refrigerator thermometer. they're cheap and it will protect your food.

>> you say there is a strategy to all this. natalie can help us out. first of all as we open this up, it matters what goes where. let's start with the door.

>> everybody puts everything in the door easy access but this is the least cold part of the refrinr rerar refridge ra refridgerator because the door is opening and closing. you don't want to put milk or eggs, because the temperature is going to be higher than you really want and you're going to put all of that stuff into the fridge.

>> we know the wine and the beer not highly perishable around here because we drink it before it expires. nice and convenient for you.

>> how do you arrange the shelves?

>> all of the perishable stuff, dairy, milk eggs, meat are all going to be in the middle part of this and some fridges have something that says meat or cold that is super cold. you want to make sure meats that have leaky juices are going to be wrapped thoroughly.

>> and quickly the vegetables need to go in the drawers, why.

>> because they are humidified. it keeps them longer.

>> good advice, natalie i think this is yours. enjoy that. thank you so much, madelyn. good to see you. we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc.

>>> coming up tomorrow, another boy band reunion.

>> yes!

>> 98 degrees will be here