This app may help me get over my fear of buying perishables

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Photos courtesy of The Fridge app.
Photos courtesy of The Fridge app.

There is an app that now exists that helps you keeps track of your perishable food. It’s called The Fridge, and I think it’s going to help me get over my fear of buying perishable food.

Since I’m so unfamiliar with “real food” that I don’t really know how long I have to use anything, I just end up saying “nope, nope, nope” to foods with a time limit. Although we have tons of tips to prevent food spoilage, I still feel like that’s a lot to keep in mind at once. Can’t someone else do the thinking for me!? Oh hey…

Here’s how The Fridge works…

Use it to keep track of fruit, meat, cheese, leftovers, anything perishable — even things that you don’t put in the fridge, like meat in the freezer or bananas in the fruit bowl.

The Fridge learns from you. As you enter your groceries, it suggests foods you’ve entered before. As you set the expiry date, it remembers it for that food. There’s also a shopping list, recipe searching, and adjustable reminder settings.

Learn more about The Fridge on iTunes. And then tell me how YOU manage your perishables — lists, timers, other useful apps?

Comments on This app may help me get over my fear of buying perishables

  1. I keep a tiny whiteboard on my fridge. On it, I write the date I put the perishable/fruit/freezer in my fridge. So like right now I have chicken that was frozen a week ago, and raspberries I bought last night. Leftovers also go on the white board. I’m terrible about leftovers- home cooked or not. Bonus: easy accessible grocery list.
    Edited for grammar.

    • Great idea! Alas, our fridge white board is for our grocery list (another great way to use a white board on the fridge): when we are running low/run out of something, it goes onto that primary list, to be added to the paper grocery list when it’s made…

      If I had a smart phone, I would be all for an app like this, though most of the time I can keep a mental order-in-which-we-ought-to-use-things list…

      Another tip: if it needs to be eaten first, put it in the FRONT of the shelves or TOP of drawers so you SEE IT. If you see it and it’s convenient to reach, you’re more likely to remember to use it or eat it in a timely fashion. (Works for us, anyway…)

  2. I dint even finish reading this before I reached for my phone to download. I am extremely happy I took a break (read: procrastinate) from making my grocery list!

  3. “As you set the expiry date, it remembers it for that food.”

    It does look though like you have to enter the info about how long the item lasts and the app just reminds you, ie it’s not pre-programmed with that information. Which makes sense as it is somewhat variable and subjective.

    However this does not mean it is nothing but chaos and there is no way to navigate it all. The stuff you need to worry about tends to come labelled, fresh meat, fish, dairy etc. In the UK it works like this, high risk (terrible term it makes it all sound so scary) foods have a “use by” date and it’s illegal to sell it after this (ie meat, fish, dairy). We also have best before which is for non-high risk items and you can legally sell them after this, (ie cookies, chocolate, pasta, rice and other “dry goods” etc) and is about deterioration in quality not a date after which it is unsafe to eat. My rule of thumb is not to mess with the use by date of “high risk” foods (even though I suspect they are overly cautious to protect the sellers) but make a judgement on the rest including veggies. I do know people who will eat “high risk” stuff a day over the use by date and they always seem to survive (my mum, who also doesn’t believe in allergies) but I use the date on the packet of this kind of thing as my rule.

    I can see the app could come in handy for keeping track of “high risk” items so you don’t have to go and look at the packet but meal planning could also work here. Basically if you are planning a weeks food, and buying it fresh at the beginning AND using it all up that week (bar dried goods like pasta and store cupboard stuff like oils, herbs, spices etc) then you should be more than covered for “high risk” food safety. Additionally if you plan your weeks meals and your shopping at the same time, you can make sure you are doing the recipes using “high risk” items nearest the shopping dates but this is probably more comforting than necessary, however comfort is important!

    One tip to make sure you make all the meals you plan and don’t end up with stuff to roll over to the next week and worry about (plus feel less trapped) is to leave the last evening meal blank but make sure you have a freezer stand by like pizza or something frozen but left over. That way if something comes up mid week and you don’t make one of your planned meals, you just do it the next day instead and shuffle all meals along a day. If you do make all your meals as planned then you have your freezer stand by on that last day!

    • one thing to keep in mind in that the use by date is a legal thing, so that stores cannot sell the product after that date- it is not the consume by date. those are different things (and technically, a consume by date would be impossible to put on anything perishable, as that varies so much- if you have a longer drive home then someone and your milk is in your hot car for a little longer, a “consume by” date would be different for the two of you.). so yes, you are right that it is “overly cautious”, and your mom is fine in eating things after that date, in the sense that it is only a tool for the store to use for sales- its not really for the consumer to use, necessarily.

      • Sometimes the packages say “Best within 5 days of the sell by date” or something similar. I agree that it varies by item, how you handle it, and how you store it. Example, wash your hands before sticking them into that bag of shredded cheese or use a clean utensil.

      • Absolutely the use by date is not the date after which it is instantly dangerous but for those struggling with the fact that this is essentially a judgement call, it’s a good place to draw a line. Plan meals so you use food before this date and you should be utterly covered. Not planning means facing more situations in which you’ll end up with something of suspect age you feel guilty about chucking and end up in a tizzy about.

  4. We used to throw out a shameful amount of produce when we shopped on an ad-hoc basis every few days. About a year ago, though, we instituted a policy where we plan two weeks’ worth of meals on a Sunday night, then as soon as the supermarket opens on Monday morning we buy all the items required. Gets it out of the way because our 6pm supermarket trips usually ended in bitterness and recriminations…and unwise purchasing decisions.

    The trick is, though, we then do top-up shops for produce on Thursdays and the following Monday. That means that we actually use everything we buy and it’s fresh. Anything like fish or meat gets bought in the main shop and put in the freezer (you just have to remember to get it out!). The bonus with that is that it always gets used and you don’t end up with meat that’s been frozen for months.

    The OTHER bonus is that the meal list gets put on the fridge and I don’t get nearly so much of my husband saying “what’s for dinner tonight?”, which drives me bananas. And…if you’re like me and hate coming up with meal ideas, we now have a year’s worth of old lists to refer to (yeah, we keep them) and can just go back to those for inspiration.

    Works for us, anyway. We recently moved house and the routine went out the window – and it was SO nice to go back to it.

    • This is about what we do, too. Plan two weeks worth of meals, buy all non-perishable/freezable ingredients as well as produce for the first week in the main shopping trip, and a week later just do a quick trip to a smaller store (or the farmer’s market, in summer) to buy all the produce we need for the second week. We make a list of all the second week produce in the initial meal planning/shopping-list writing,so it’s really quick. This started because I hated having to go grocery shopping every week, but it works really well for us.

      We like to pack leftovers for lunch, so we have a whiteboard where we write out all dinners and lunches for the two weeks, which makes it easy to arrange to alternate things that make several lunches (casseroles, currys, etc.) with things like pasta, which is only good for one dinner. All my friends think this sounds excessively organized, but it’s a lot less complicated in the morning when you can just look at the whiteboard and know what you should be grabbing from the fridge for lunch, rather than having to put thought into it! I also like that by writing out all the meals, it’s easy to see that you have plans for half a squash on Monday, so maybe on Wednesday or Thursday you’ll plan a meal to use up the other half.

      We also put all our dinner plans into a separate Google Calendar, which means that even if one of us isn’t home, we can check the Google to see what dinner plans are and remind the person at home to take the crushed tomatoes (or whatever) out of the freezer to start thawing.

  5. Now someone just has to convince my mom to start using this thing. Too much mystery bags of frozen who-knows-what that’s now so freezer burned no one knows what it is.

  6. I need this app for Android. We have a chest freezer and plenty of food storage but the perishables mess me up. I can’t remember when I bought this cheese or if I have peppers, and I either run to the store again or just give up. We meal plan but not every day because my husband isn’t always home.

  7. Wow! Four days for strawberries?! You must not live on an isolated island where the produce is 5 days old before it even hits the shelf. I get one day out of my strawberries. Even the Costco ones which are supposed to be fresher.
    So seeing that produce is that way here, we only get enough for a couple days at a time. We also meal plan so we make sure that the meals that use fresh veggies or fruit are scheduled for the beginning of the week.
    And for my strawberries that over ripe, I cut off any gross parts and then put the non gross parts in a mason jar and fill it up with white wine. Let that sit for 8 to 12 hours and then enjoy! It’s amazing!

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