Top 10 Worst Foods in Your Fridge and Freezer

by in Food Safety, Healthy Tips, April 24, 2012
refrigerator
Is it time for a major fridge cleaning at your house?

Take a peek in your fridge or freezer. How many of these items do you have stocked?

Defining “Worst”
It’s no big shocker that large portions of ice cream, butter and mayonnaise aren’t super healthy, but they’re not off limits as far as we’re concerned. For this list we’re highlighting 10 foods that you’re better off avoiding all together.

1.    Expired Condiments
Condiments do last a while, but certainly not forever! Mold, yeast and other types of creepy-crawly bacteria can grow even in the chilly refrigerator, especially when stored in the warmest part of the fridge—the door. Check dates on all condiments and toss anything you aren’t sure about.

2.    Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Sodas, juice drinks and teas can dump hundreds of sugary calories into your day. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that most folks consume a whopping 21.4 teaspoons of added sugar each day. You’ll find anywhere from 12 to 22 teaspoons in just one bottle of sweetened (16 to 20 fluid ounces) of tea or soda.

3.    Coffee Creamer
They’re sweet, creamy and totally addictive. But your coffee is really getting mix of palm oil, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, thickeners and preservatives if you’re using these creamers. Stick to good old cream and sugar if you like your coffee light and sweet.

4.    Frozen Fried Foods
We recently posted about frozen french fries – the same goes for other frozen fried foods like chicken nuggets and mozzarella sticks. You’re better off taking the time to make homemade, baked versions of these favorite foods and stocking your freezer with those, instead.

5.    Bottled Salad Dressing
Why ruin a perfectly good salad with gobs of sugar and preservatives? Making your own dressing couldn’t be easier.

6.    Rotten Fruit
Have you checked the fruit drawer lately? It’s easy to forget about fresh produce. Leave it in there for a week or two and you’ll end up with a mushy, sticky, moldy and bacteria-filled mess. Overripe fruit also emits ethylene gas that will cause the other fresh produce in your fridge to rot faster.

7.    Frozen Entrees
Convenience should never trump health. You can do so much better than plastic trays of salty and fake-tasting food.

8.    Ready-to-Bake Dough
Whether it’s cookies, croissants or biscuits – these products are tubes of highly-processed ingredients and unhealthy fats. Take the time to make your own dough; you can store it in the freezer so it’s always ready to go.

9.    Highly Processed Meats
You’ll find lots of sodium and preservatives like nitrates in hot dogs, sausages and deli meats – many of these meats are also filled with fat. Choose low-sodium and nitrate-free varieties when available and pass on the higher fat options (like salami and bologna) all together.

10.    Artificially-Sweetened Yogurt
An alarmingly high number of low-calorie yogurts use a combination of sugar and artificial sweeteners (that’s how they get the calories so low). Check ingredient lists and chose brands that don’t use them.

Tell Us: What foods should you toss out of your fridge?

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Comments (2,507)

  1. [...] the original post: Top 10 Worst Foods in Your Fridge and Freezer This entry was posted in Food Network and tagged calorie, creamer, dough, freezer, fried, frozen, [...]

  2. Val says:

    The biggest offender in my fridge is likely the frozen food. Sometimes it's just so easy to pop a side dish in the microwave or a frozen pizza in the oven — and often the lesser of two evils between that and take out. But I try to buy healthier, less-sodium filled frozen foods and veggies.

  3. ash says:

    Frozen Pizza and Mayo is probably my top two offenders that are always on hand. I've heard that you can substitute plain green yogurt for mayo in some cases. I have yet to experiment with that though.

    • Angie C says:

      Make your own mayo? Lasts for about a week if stored in airtight container and is just delicious…once you go home-made you won't go back!

    • JLF says:

      I assume you meant greek yogurt, and I have successfully used it in place of mayo for some tasty salad dressings.

      • jeri says:

        I just love homemade mayo. Greek yogurt is wonderful, but can be pricy. Make your own by placing regular, un flavored, in cheese cloth and let it drain overnight in the ref.

    • MMMarino says:

      Greek yogurt is terrific! I use it in chicken salad (I replace about 2 thirds of the mayo with Greek Yogurt), deviled eggs, tuna salad, potato salad, and macaroni salad.

  4. Emma Green says:

    This is a great article, thank you for posting it! I am going to have a lot of work tonight cleaning out my fridge! Good thing it's garbage day tomorrow :)

  5. Alisha says:

    I'm very proud to say that my fridge passes this test! My partner and I went gluten free 2 months ago and our fridge is filled with veggies and my freezer is filled with meats and blanched veggies for quick meals. 3 years ago, I would have failed this test miserably.

  6. Shirley T says:

    Ice cream is on top of my list. Hard to throw them away! Will try to have them less frequently…

  7. Pete Higgins says:

    With regards to the expired condiments, we have developed an elapsed time indicator label that knows when you opened the jar for the first time, shows you how long it has been since first opened via a series of progressing green squares and once it has reached its “once opened, use within” period, turns red warning you that it’s now time to throw the jar out. The UWI Label, therefore removes any doubt as to when the jar was first opened, helping to reduce unnecessary food wastage and saving you money too!

  8. All4Moderation says:

    Thank you for alerting me to the "Worst Foods in The Refrigerator especially the Coffee Creamer in particular. Each one seems to have different ingredients to them.

  9. Laura says:

    Not just expired condiments/dairy, but things that have been open for more than a couple of weeks. Often if you read the fine print the label states that item should be used within 7-14 days or opening.

    • Kelly says:

      I always felt the reason they say use within that time period is because they want you to buy their product again. If you read the label quite often there's really nothing in there that can't last longer than that.

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