HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


is your refrigerator stuffed so full with condiments and fresh foods that you could not possibly put in another thing without being a rubik's cube champion?

well, that's pretty much the question.

i'm there, for real. some condiments are gonna have to be de-fridgerated in order to put in that new stash of eggs on which i got a good deal.

um, freezer, too.

we used to have a second fridge with freezer, but since it died, we have *tried* to use up the food in one.

but the biggest problem is really the metric ton of condiments.

am i alone?

i am blessed to have such bounty, i *do* know that.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Short answer for our fridge: No.

    It sounds like it's time for a clean-out in your home fridge. I'm not going to get into a discussion of sell by versus use by dates and whether or not things are good or bad, but if you can't even put more stuff in your fridge, it's time to re-organize and re-evaluate what needs to stay and what needs to go. In other words, take a look at the expiration dates of everything and toss what's too old.

    Also, be a neat freak about it. Really organize what goes where and line everything up nice and neatly. It's not just personal preference, organizing your fridge so that it looks nice usually means you have no wasted space. Conversely, tossing everything in there so that it's all haphazard makes things incredibly hard to find and wastes space.

    5 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      use by dates on black bean paste, and the like? nah. clean out & re-org, yes. but i'm thinking a lot of these condiments do not need refrigeration.

      oh, those condiments primarily take up space organized in metal mesh trays i bought at container store. six of them.

      1. re: alkapal

        Hey to each their own, like I said I'm not going to argue the case of use by/best by dates, but really think about what you're saving and why you're saving it. If you haven't used it in a year, it's time to toss it out.

        1. re: HaagenDazs

          hd, thanks for your advice.

          i guess i just really want to know if other hounds find themselves in the same boat, so to speak.

          you are not in the same boat. you are probably in a cigarette boat, skimming over sunny biscayne bay. i may be in a canoe, hiding by the mangroves in the caloosahatchee river. ;-).

          1. re: alkapal

            alkapal - our fridge tends to look a lot like yours. unfortunately! in our household there are two different minds. i want neat, organized, and spare. my spouse: not so much. i want to modify our cooking to conform to using up whatever condiments and ingredients (usually expensive) we have. my spouse: not so much. sometimes it drives me crazy. but usually we work out a compromise. it is the price I pay for living with a wonderful person who COOKS FOR ME two or three times each week. i mentally add up the lost money, when we throw such items out, but rarely express aloud, because i believe in avoiding world war iii. my grandmother, a survivor of the great depression, lived with our family - i cannot explain my belief in moderation any other way! but, i do compromise. We both compromise a lot.

        2. re: alkapal

          alkapal, I'm with you. I am looking at the same fridge, condiments that are from all over the world, or at least used by the people there of.
          And you are right, the shelf life for those things like black bean paste, fish sauce, are just not like the perishables we have in the American market. My top shelf in the fridge is designated for condiments not used daily, mainly because its the best place for them.
          I just have resolved that I am a cook that goes by emotion, and right now its samosas. I think I need some new condiments, don't I?

      2. I love condiments (mustards are my downfall), but I make sure that they either go in the door, OR on the 2nd shelf (tall bottles go in the back of the top shelf). I have a smaller fridge than most, considering I live alone, so I have to restrict the location so I *do* have enough room for regular food. :-)

        I have a chest freezer in the basement, so that takes the bulk of my frozen food. The fridge freezer is jammed, however, with small Gladware containers of a half cup of mango sauce, about 5-6 1/2 cup containers of plum ketchup (I make a batch in the summer and try to remember to use it in the winter), bits of this and that; I'll bring up a box of whatever from the basement freezer and try and fit it in the upstairs freezer; several containers of sorbet or gelato that I'm still not sure if I like or dislike so they stay upstairs for me to take a taste of to see if I *do* like it, etc.

        I'm *trying* to work through my upstairs freezer and use things (just found 4 bags of wild Maine blueberries - some store-bought, some that I ziplocked myself after purchase at a farm stand). Used one of the bags in a lemon-blueberry sour cream cake on Sunday; unfortunately, they remained too wet and the cake didn't set up properly (or my oven temp is off - need to check that).

        I have an inventory list of what's in the chest freezer downstairs that I cross off or change quantities when I take something from it; I seriously need to do that with the upstairs freezer. :-)

        1. There's always room for one more!

          Recent tragedy: At work, near the end of the year, there was notice of clearing out all food. So, anything I did want to keep in terms of main dishes, etc, I took, and I helped the process by throwing out the old leftovers of mine I wasn't going to risk eating. The next day I came in, the guy who did the deed took the order literally and really did throw out EVERYTHING. No checking dates, nothing. So, I lost all these condiments incl. soy sauce, hot sauce, salad dressing, etc - that I use regularly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dennis S

            I'm the person who gets this job and the real tragedy is that one person has to be responsible for other people's junk. Over the holidays, I decided to clean out the fridge at my office, gave everyone a week's warning, and then commenced to purge the fridge. There were tupperwares in there that had their own ecosystems. It was rough.

            On the flip side, the things that were labeled got date checks. Maybe try that?

            1. re: adrienne156

              I think with the warning that all the tupperware, etc, go without checking. But condiments? There weren't too many in general, either (I could see it if half the fridge was condiments).

          2. We aren't quite to the point of having to squeeze things in, but we do have enough hot sauce to last three lifetimes. I'm a sucker for that stuff, even though most of the time when cooking I just use cayenne for heat...

            1. I would say more of a tetris champion but for the most part, yes.
              My pantry too.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Davwud

                my thoughts exactly. tetris indeed.

              2. OMG, the story of my life. We shlepped along an old refrigerator when we moved up here, so we have one in the kitchen and one in the garage. Both stuffed. In desperation a few months ago I began doing what LindaWhit does, I began keeping an inventory (including of the cupboards, also stuffed). Surprising how much that helps! (And helps prevent my buying another Whatever that I already have three of in the cupboard.)
                Lots of motivation becuz it's winter here and we've had mucho snow and below zero temps. I want to be sure the larder is both filled and functional all the time.
                My two problem areas are:
                Veggie bins, things like scallions or old cilantro getting lost in corners and dying there quietly (how DO you keep cilantro for more than a couple of days?).
                And ---- surprise! surprise! --- CONDIMENTS. The ones you only need once in a while, but they say in big letters on them, Refrigerate after opening, so I do; and then they march through my fridge like all those brooms in the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia. Jellies, jams, soy sauces of various types and purposes, cranberry mustard (when do you use THAT?) and a whole mustard family and old horseradish sauce, Boar's Head ham glaze (used maybe annually, if that), etc etc etc. Drowning in them!
                Not much problems with things I use repeatedly, the in/out flow seems to work well. It's the once in a while, or special occasion, item that devours space.
                I've organized it a la HaagenDazs, honestly I have. It helps But there's just so much cubic space, and so many condiments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                Does everything really NEED to be kept in the fridge that says so on the label? My European friends never seem to refrigerate many things I do, for example, jams or jellies. They have tiny fridges in the first place. Good heavens, do you think maybe our fridges are too big, not too small? I'm with you, Alka, abbondanza has its problems along with its blessings.
                p.s. Another problem raised by HD's post, lots of things don't have expiration dates, and that drives me totally berserk. Is it or isn't it too old? AAAAAAAGH.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                  cranberry mustard (when do you use THAT?)
                  On sandwiches, as a glaze for roasted chicken or pork.

                  1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                    You can freeze cilantro. Wash it, dry it, shove it in a ziplock. I don't know for sure whether or not it loses some of its pungency, but I know my mum always has a bag in freezer.

                  2. I was in the dame boat as you.It was crazy- so before Thanksgiving, I did a major cleanout.- and we still had to use coolers on the porch for lots of stuff. Just made a run to a farm last week for produce, and coul not stuff one more item in the fridge. MAde sure that all the meals I made this week had NO leftovers. Any we are working on the freezer now. Will not buy any more meat until what we have is gone. I stocked up on lots of stuff when my local market had 5 meats for 20 bucks. And I am a sucker for chicken on sale! I still have two HUGE turkey wings in the freezer. I bought them to make extra gravy, but we had gallons of gravy without them. Will have to make a soup stock, I guess.

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: macca

                      That was so funny to read, Macca.... sounds exactly like our fridge and freezer including the 2 turkey wings. I have to make an inventory every week of both fridge and freezer to make certain I use the oldest things first.... hardly never happens, though, considering DH likes to go shopping 2ce a week.....

                      1. re: Gio

                        I am trying to be more careful when I shop- I shop at TJ, BJ, Wilson Farms and Johnnies for most of my "stuff", and I just can't resisit the meat sales at Johnnies- and they usually geve unadvertised sales every week, too. I am proud of myself, as I have not bought much meat for the freezer so far this year, and am valiantly working off the meats in there now. This weekend I will finally cook the prime rib roast I bought ( on sales, of course), and I have lots of frozen cranberries from Wilsons that I need to find some use for! Once this is done, my next major overhaul will be my spice cabinet- I will bet you I have four boxes of Bell SEasonng- I buy it every year at Thanksgiving to make sure I have it for the stuffing- and always have more at home ( same with Peanut butter!)

                        1. re: macca

                          and I have lots of frozen cranberries from Wilsons that I need to find some use for!
                          What about a Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake? That uses a whole bag of cranberries. Of course, that means buying a buttload of cream cheese. :-) This is the recipe I use at Christmastime when I make it:


                          And I think this weekend is going to be a "use stuff from the freezer" weekend as well - and maybe even clean out/organize the pantry and pie safe!

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            "buttload of cream cheese" -- you got that right, linda whit!

                            BUTT-load. as in, "i loaded that cheesecake right onto my butt!" ;-).

                            and i'm so happy to have inspired the "use stuff from my freezer" weekend!

                            1. re: alkapal

                              :-) Yes, but damn, what a way to go! This is seriously one of the BEST cheesecakes I've ever had - the sour cream adds a lightness so it's not heavy at all - and no crust to deal with either.

                            2. re: LindaWhit

                              that looks great- thanks- may try it- and who wouldn't love a buttload of cream cheese!

                              1. re: macca

                                Here's a pic of what the swirly cranberry puree looks like (made this for a Day-After-Independence Day, so I added blueberries around the outer edge for the red-white-and-blue theme).

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  It is beautiful! I also have frozen Maine blueberries, so I will add them, too.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    lovely! the swirls look like tulips. one could do a spring theme using raspberries -- to emulate hot pink tulips! maybe kiwi along the edges? or kiwi on top like leaves? (has anyone ever baked kiwi on top of anything?)

                                    i like the independence day theme, too. could you drag the cran like stripes (as a flag)?

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I *like* the idea of cranberry stripes, alkapal! I think the teaspoons of cranberry puree would have to be spaced differently to achieve that. (And I think I probably used a majorly heaping tsp. or perhaps even a Tbsp. for that particular cake pictured above).

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I don't think I'd bake kiwi, but you could add kiwi "leaves" after the cheesecake's baked and cooled.

                                2. re: macca

                                  With some of those cranberries try a Cranberry Clafouti... Absolutely deeeelicious!

                                  I see your boat load of Bell's Seasoning.... and raise you 7 bags of various dried hot chilies... not counting the ones in the freezer.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Will check out the recipe board for the clafouti. You got me beat with the chilies!

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      i see your 7 bags of chilies, and raise you two jars of hoisin sauce and two bottles of frank's hot sauce. ;-) ahh, food-hoarder poker!!!! it gives new meaning to the moniker "texas hold 'em."

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        OK Pal:
                                        Sriracha, Cholula, Tabasco, Frank's, Hoisin, Garlic Chili Paste (1 in fridge, 1 in pantry) sitting right here.....I'm done.

                              2. Ever since I found some mouse... leavings... on my counter and cleared everything not in a glass bottle out of my pantry: Yes.

                                1. I think I started a thread some time back about how I have a full fridge and pantry, but nothing to really eat ! I am one helluva sucker for new condiments and rarer ingredients that I feel the need to stock up on when i'm near stores that have such things (usually at least an hour away from the small meat and potatoes town i live in ). I have so many different types of hot sauces, mustards, dressings, pickled things, etc etc etc.

                                  Fridge & pantry pack rats unite !!! :)

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                    <" have so many different types of hot sauces, mustards, dressings, pickled things, etc etc etc. Fridge & pantry pack rats unite !!! :)">

                                    Hah.... you should start cooking with the COTM books. You have NO idea what is accumulated regarding condiments & spices.....

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Re: COTM - so true. And I tend to go over board in my purchases - I still have some hard Greek cheeses from August. I finally found some covered baskets at Crate & Barrel that fit above my top kitchen cupboards, and I store ingredients by cuisine in those, for things I don't use everyday. And, yes, my fridge is chock a block full, and requires constant reorganizing. My freezer is a bit better today as I used up a bunch of chicken carcasses making stock yesterday.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        maybe y'all need to start a "COTM-leftover-stuff-support-group", too! ;-)

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          We may well! By the way - here's a photo showing the lazy susans that I bought for my fridge, which have helped a lot.


                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              vvvery niiiiice. i have those lazy susans in my spice cabinet!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                I have them there too - but for oils/vinegars. For spices, I have those stacking plastic things that create little shelves for spices.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Surely you don't need to keep spices in the fridge? Or am I missing something?

                                                2. re: alkapal

                                                  I have about 4-5 in my spice cabinets (including one double-decker one). But I wouldn't be able to use one in my fridge - too small, and have too many "big things" on the top shelf.

                                                  But I dearly love them in my spice/baking cabinet!

                                                3. re: MMRuth

                                                  EEK! MMRuth, that is fabulous! That would solve a lot of problems! I will send hubbie right away to start looking for possible solutions...

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    OMG what a well organized fridge !

                                                    (runs away in shame)

                                                    re: spice containers, I use stackable ones that I got from an Avon catalogue of all places, and I love them. HUGE space saver.

                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                      I will confess to tidying up the fridge before taking that photo. It's usually a mess, with things stuffed in where I can find room. But those lazy susans do still help! My husband would die laughing if he knew someone described our (well, my, in some sense here) fridge as well organized.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        i thought of taking a picture of mine, but it would be too embarassing! ;-).

                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                          too funny....I thought of the same thing when I opened my fridge this morning....taking a picture I mean, not tidying it up. I then thought "I aint cleaning up that mess." and promptly closed the door again, lol.

                                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                                          p.s. perhaps if we all had fridges like this one :

                                                          we'd keep them more clean !! :)

                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                            That fridge looks awesome!! But I would be afraid of the reactions of some of my house guests when they see some of the weird things I have in the fridge.

                                            2. My mother has always done that, and I vowed never to do the same (too many bruised toes from the freezer). If it starts getting too full, we stop shopping until it's reduced.

                                              The condiments do have a tendency to grow in quantity, but these days it's mostly the bottles of stock and other items we've canned on the bottom shelf. At least a dozen different bottles of habanero and other pepper sauces too, used regularly, and never saved for sentimental purposes when there's an inch or less left in the bottle.

                                              We've had to empty out cupboards and refrigerators in other places too, so we've tried to learn from our (and other's) mistakes.

                                              It's kind of like perfume--once it's opened, it should be used. It doesn't get better with aging.

                                              1. LOL, I laughed at this thread. I just cleaned out the fridge today, and I think I filled our recycle bin with salad dressing bottles. I am constantly trying new ones, and they just pile up in the fridge. On a good note, the fridge is now bright and clean!

                                                1. I used your thread as a prompt to gather my vegetable peelings and make a nice stock today. Any ideas beyond a nice risotto?

                                                  1. About six months ago I made a careful examination of my fridge door. Over half of it either was transferred to non refrigerated storage or tossed. I was so happy afterwards! I also added two extra plastic "drawers". They are about as long as one of those refrigerator 12 packs of pop, but they are slightly less bulky and open along the whole top. I set each one on a shorter shelf to the side. Now I can just partly slide them off the shelf and look in, being able to reach to the very back, or pull it out entirely if I want. This ended the death of little items at the back of my shorter shelves, because I could access the entire depth of the shelf easily.

                                                    Now I could fit several more condiments on my door shelves if I want, but I don't! Who needs a bottle of jerk seasoning or another salad dressing? I'm much happier when I look into my fridge now. I can easily get the condiment that I want with no rummaging at all.

                                                    1. Answer to question: a resounding yes

                                                      We had a small disaster the other day. We discovered the fridge had broken, and that the stuff in the freezer was starting to thaw. The fridge was also losing cooling ability. Fortunately, it was -20 degrees Celcius outside, so we were able to throw the salvageable frozen stuff outside, and some friends helped us with our fridge stuff. Somethings had to be thrown out, but most were saved. I have to say, I have a very interesting fridge. My friend was morbidly fascinated by what we were pulling out. Here is a partial list of stuff we had:

                                                      East Indian gooseberry pickle, hot mango pickle, kimchi (2 types), kochuchang, 3 types of den jang, daikon radish in vinegar, 2 jars of pickled ginger, dill pickles, pickled onions (traditional and the large English ones in brown vinegar), cornichons, corn relish, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, 2 jars of thai curry paste, my homemade Trinidadian scotch bonnet sauce, Trois Pistoles mustard, dijon mustard, 2 jars of spreadable caramel, zucchini jam, strawberry and chocolate jam, blueberry jam, fig mostardo, chorizo, rosette de Lyon, and end piece of proscuitto, gruyere, feta, parmagiano reggiano, bacon, various bits of mostly eaten raw milk cheeses, maple butter, maple syrup, whole milk, half and half cream, whipping cream, pomegranate and apple juice, Korean rice drink in a can, ginger ale, San Marzano tomatoes waiting to be turned into a sauce, all the toppings for bi bim bap (in my case, spinach, sauteed carrots and zucchini, dried mushrooms, doragi and kosari), eggs, butter, apples, Asian pear, fuyu persimmon, arugula, fennel, cucumbers, red pepper, celery, pomegranate, lemons, parsley, lettuce, anchovies, capers, salted Korean fish roe, Oaxacan black mole paste, hazelnut oil, salted shrimp paste, fish sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, bits of chinese food leftovers. And that is just the fridge! I had much weirder stuff in the freezer...

                                                      I was half tempted to videotape the cleaning out of the fridge. It was a fascinating melange of stuff in there. The big problem is that I really like to eat lots of different kinds of foods.

                                                      We are hoping to use this episode as a purge, a chance to start anew. But I suspect we will be back to our rubik cube ways soon (I actually think of our fridge as a Tetris game. Both hubbie and I were addicted to this game in the past, and we are really good at it. My hubbie was really good at Tetris, and his fridge stacking abilities are accordingly better than mine).

                                                      1. In general no, but for a lot of reasons. When my husband was young, his family had no refrigeration, so he's very used to using things up in a pretty timely manner (and he's addicted to hot sauces, so even those don't last much more than two or three weeks). But even for frozen things, he's very likely to use them up within a month or two. We also move every year or two, so that's a great motivator to keep things to a minimum. Finally, we just moved to an urban area with two grocery stores within three blocks, so we buy fresh fruits and veggies a few times a week now.

                                                        Now, the varied bags of dried fruits and nuts that sit on top of the fridge are another matter all together. One day they are going to topple off and crush me. (Headline: "Boston-area women killed by cornucopia" )

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Cachetes

                                                          Cachetes, they have new technology that they use when people are travelling in areas of avalanche strikes, it is a little GPS device that helps rescuers locate you. I would strongly recommend you consider this option.

                                                          The one advantage of being buried under dried fruit and nuts: you can always eat your way to safety :)

                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            Good idea! At least I'll die happy...

                                                        2. Sadly, my fridge is packed as well and I am afraid a lot of it will be going to waste. I blame pregnancy. I had 3 months of intense morning sickness and strong food aversions. I wasn't cooking AT ALL, but still trying to keep my husband fed. Every nauseating trip to the grocery I'd get a new variety of bottled dressing, something I had never purchased much previously, in an attempt to keep him interested in his nearly nightly romaine, tomato, and cucumber salads which was just about all I could produce. A couple times a week I'd thaw out a few chicken breasts and marinate them in various storebought marinades and grill them off so he'd have some protein on hand. Now that I am coming out of morning sickness haze and cooking some again I have probably 9 different bottled salad dressings and 4 or 5 bottled marinades I don't have a lot of use for. These are on top of the two dozen or so other condiments we always have on hand as well as 6 or 7 varieties of spicy pickles and hot mix that I can't seem to get enough of lately. I just keep hoping it will somehow magically take care of itself...
                                                          My Yummy Life

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Lol, that sounds like my refrigerator here but for whole different other reasons. WIth the humidity here, everything goes into the fridge, bread, cereal, salt, sugar, (that's on top of all my usual condiments), etc so the fridge is always packed. Good thing we've got a big fridge!!
                                                            On the other hand, after a night on the town, friends always manage to find their way to ours for a 3 am snack. Thank goodness for full fridges and freezers.

                                                            1. In a word, TOTALLY.

                                                              Although I've never gone so far as to acquire a 2nd fridge. Bravo!

                                                              1. The other person that lives here had the sudden nerve to gripe about the fact that the fridge door was so heavy, it reared back on it's own and bruised him... Yeah, right. He also mentioned that the stuff that wasn't crammed into the door was taking over the inner sanctum of the shelves. (His precious shelves.)
                                                                I let him know there would be plenty of room if he didn't leave ONE SIP in the 1/2 gal OJ container, or a smidgen of cooked broccoli in a huge 9x13 pyrex... and why, WHY does he need to open 3 loaves of bread at once? Why? Because he won't eat the heels, or the 2nd and 2nd to last slices that rest near the heels...

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                                  bd: i love this: "the fridge door was so heavy, it reared back on it's own and bruised him."

                                                                  we need that jeff corwin guy http://www.currentfilm.com/dvdreviews... to come tour our kitchens. "FRIDGE-TAMERS!" -- "an exciting program exploring the wilds of refrigerators in america." ;-).

                                                                  1. Nope, my fridge is usually pretty empty. My girlfriend tends to hoard stuff, but apart from cheese and milk, the only time I have stuff is when I've bought it to cook and eat either that day, or soon.

                                                                    *edit* btw Alkapal, I always assumed that was coffee in your gravatar - I never bothered to check!

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                      hiya soop! hey, "gravatar" is for really serious, dignified people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitas LOL!!

                                                                      you are a young single man not having a full fridge? that's not really surprising. i know you like food, though!

                                                                      btw, mr. alka is over in london right now. what top three condiments should he bring back? i'm wanting fortnum & mason's "four tomato relish" and "king neptune's relish"


                                                                      and some elsenham "gentleman's relish."

                                                                      have you tried the f&m tercentenary relish? http://www.fortnumandmason.com/Produc...

                                                                      <bad, bad alkapal!!! have you no shame?!? and on THIS thread!!!!>

                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                        My girlfriend actually shouted at me once when she was hungry late at night and I didn't have any food to eat!

                                                                        But I think it's probably healthier and nicer (if you have the choice) to eat what you want rather than what's in the fridge.

                                                                        1. re: Soop

                                                                          she's gonna have to get a (little) stash there. ;-).

                                                                          but tell her she should almost always find the ingredients for spaghetti carbonara late at night in your place. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...
                                                                          in any event, eggs are always good to have on hand in the fridge. and some frozen streaky bacon. you must have good block of parm-regg cheese!! she could even make dried pasta with butter and garlic and herbs.

                                                                          and in general, some shelf-stable half and half -- or some milk -- in those small boxes. there's plenty for her to make in riffing on those ingredients!

                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                            Oh she does now. Yoghurts, baskets of fruit and tomatoes, salad, prawns. And the cupboard has inherited her canned food collection since she moved in. We're good for an apocalypse.

                                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                                              ah, i see more clearly now! ;-).

                                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                                          I'm not big on condiments, although I've certainly heard of Fortnum&Mason. I was going to suggest some from Bar HA HA!, but it appears they no longer sell them. There was a piccalliy, a red-devil sauce (like spicy ketchup) and onion relish. All of them were great. Do you get Marmite over there? That's well good.

                                                                          1. re: Soop

                                                                            you can get marmite here, but it is more of a "special" imported item. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmite
                                                                            the name somehow turns me off. it reminds me of dark brown smelly "marrow" paste. i have no earthly idea WHY i think this, though. maybe i'm thinking of "bovril" -- beef extract. you brits sure have a lot of "extracts". hmmm. do you know *why* in british food history? ;-).

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              There are domestic versions of Marmite (yeast extract), but it's too salty for me. Even spread thinly on toast or crackers; it reminds me of biting into an undissolved beef bouillon cube.

                                                                              1. re: Caralien

                                                                                Yeah, I always have thick toast, lots of butter, and a thin layer of marmite. It's a sometimes treat.

                                                                                Why the extracts? I have no idea!

                                                                                BTW, went to cheddar yesterday (where the cheese was invented). Didn't get to see it made though.

                                                                      2. OMG. I'm so with you on this. I must have 5 or 6 different kinds of vinegars, 4 or 5 different kinds of olives, too many jars of mustard to mention (my daughter used to live across the street from the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin), and jars upon jars of pickles, pickled peppers, sliced peppers, diced peppers, roasted peppers . . .

                                                                        I don't have to purge the condiments too often as I use them alot! What I usually end up purging is actual food since it gets pushed to the back and hidden by the condiments.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: sheilal


                                                                          "I don't have to purge the condiments too often as I use them alot! What I usually end up purging is actual food since it gets pushed to the back and hidden by the condiments."

                                                                        2. Me, I agree like everyone, we all have that problem.

                                                                          My solution, once a week I pick out a condiment that hasn't been used in a while and come up with a solution. I had some current jelly 1/2 jar so I decided to come up with something. I came up with cornish hens stuffed with nuts and butternut squash and rice with a current glaze. It was so good I posted it on chow. I have also taken that same jelly and mixed it with white wine, some herbs and used it as a glaze on pork tenderloin which is excellent.

                                                                          So now every week I pick one condiment and try to figure out what to do with it. Great way to get rid of somethings. Make a fresh BBQ help and then that weekend make grilled BBQ chicken. Use alot of different condiments in marinades for chicken breasts, pork chops, beef and try different combination on steak or make light sauces or glazes.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                            kchurchill, you have inspired me with your "condiment of the week" recipe idea. you should start a thread, to help us get with the program!

                                                                            i also though of a new "adopt-a-condiment" social services program. i'm sure there is a funding provision for that particular line item in the t.a.r.p. -- or the proposed "stimulus" package.

                                                                          2. I have a reasonable amount of condiments and such things in my fridge. Salads and some vegetables that like to be refrigerated, cooked beans, cheese, and a lot of room. My freezer on the other hand is stuffed with frozen vegetables, seafood, broth, sauces, and so on. And whenever I have to get something out of my pantry, I cuss at all the sacks of different beans, spices, boxes of pasta, flours, and just all the random crap in there. Do I really need three types of oil and four vinegars? Huh, guess so.

                                                                            1. One door shelf is for the Mr.'s various chilis and hot condiments. Another shelf is for tamer stuff.

                                                                              I get great delight from going on grocery exiles, where I don't buy anything until the fridge, freezer, and pantry are cleaned out. It's fun and creative to put nutritious and tasty meals together with the ingredients at hand.

                                                                              Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.

                                                                              1. How timely, I was so mad today that I couldn't buy the whole chickens that were on sale for 69 cents because I had nowhere to stash them. I have to check the freezer downstairs periodically to see if the door has popped open from fullness again. And the dry stuff in the pantry and garage isn't much better.

                                                                                People that come over my house tell me they're afraid to open my refrigerator because things jump out at them the minute the door is opened. Last week, I had company that brought a bunch of beer and a bottle exploded on the kitchen floor at 6AM (I did it cleaning up) and woke everyone up, well they brought all that beer so it was partly their fault. They know how much food I make when I have people over.

                                                                                On the other hand, I had a friend that ate all take out. One time I had to keep a large amount of food refrigerated overnight, so she said use my fridge, it's empty. I was so amazed when she opened the refrigerator and all there was was a 6 pack of beer (no ketchup, mayo or ANYTHING else) and then she opened her freezer and there was one tray of ice cubes. I will never forget that mental image until the day I die!

                                                                                I do keep an inventory list but it's just out of hand, I don't know why I'm afraid of starving to death. Time to psychoanalyze myself I guess.

                                                                                22 Replies
                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  Coll's story reminds me of my favorite one about "what's in the fridge..."
                                                                                  A young Jewish guy from New Jersey got his own apartment in NYC. He got so tired of his mother calling and saying, "What do you have in the fridge?" that he went out and bought a rubber chicken, so that he could truthfully tell her, "I have a chicken in the fridge, Ma."
                                                                                  TRUE STORY, I know him.
                                                                                  There wasn't much else in his fridge, either, except ice cubes.
                                                                                  We should all have that problem? I don't think so!

                                                                                  1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                    LOL! That's funny - and a brilliant remedy to his situation with his mother!

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      I love this thread. thank you thank you thank you. I am not the only one with a super stuffed fridge,a ctually two of them and a freezer. somehow my husband likes to think i am the only one. i can relax while searching for remedies on how to use up the additional food. I collect condiments, salts, oils, vinegars and they just pile up everywhere, not to mention the mustards and salad dressings. My recent solution to this has been to not buy anything i dont need and to shop for a few meals at a time. Very very frugal these days since the guilt of overstocking is killing me.

                                                                                      1. re: foodwich

                                                                                        this thread is a wake-up call to help non-hoarder spouses realize that they are "really off-base" about griping. ;-).

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          What can i say he wants it all without having it all.

                                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                                    $.69/lb for whole chickens? Really, LI is so much cheaper than Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Princeton! I haven't seen prices like those since Chicago and SF!

                                                                                    1. re: Caralien

                                                                                      That's for Waldbaums brand, the Perdues are 77cents. I don't buy anything that's not at rock bottom pricing, I watch like a hawk. I'm in the wholesale business so I know a bargain when I see one, and refuse to pay much above (except goat milk as I mentioned before, my one weakness). Especially cold cuts, they're usually marked up 200-300% if not on sale. You just have to stock up and wait for the next sale. I think last week they were pawning off the same chickens for $1.29 which was supposedly a sale too. No way Jose!

                                                                                      I'm suddenly realizing why my fridge and freezer are so stuffed, I've turned into a bargain hunter and I get such a kick out of it. Better than gambling I guess, I get the same thrill. One time I had the store manager look in my grocery cart and say "I'm not making any money off you today, am I?" It was sort of embarrassing but it hasn't stopped me yet!

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        One time I had the store manager look in my grocery cart and say "I'm not making any money off you today, am I?"
                                                                                        You KNOW you're doing something right if that is said, coll!

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Well, there's another way to look at this - especially with a family of just two: Buying anything that is not on "the list" of what is needed and/or what will be used responsibly is a waste of time and money. It's not a matter of "oh well, we can eat this." Of course, humans can eat ANYTHING and often do. In my opinion, it's a matter of "do we need to eat this." Here's my equation for a bargain:
                                                                                          Quality + Calories and/or type of calorie + Real Cost + Time/Convenience = DEAL

                                                                                          1. re: lifespan

                                                                                            Luckily nothing wasted here, my freezer inventory is how I plan meals, when you're looking for sale items at the grocery for tonight's dinner they're always out of stock! Takes a lot of stress out of meal planning.

                                                                                            1. re: lifespan

                                                                                              Buying anything that is not on "the list" of what is needed and/or what will be used responsibly is a waste of time and money.
                                                                                              I'll agree with you - I always shop with a list (although I also, at times, buy things off list). But I'm not seeing anywhere where coll said she was buying things she *didn't* need or wouldn't eat. She buys things at bargain prices; but never did she say she wasn't buying something she wasn't going to use. So I'm not sure where your comment is coming from.

                                                                                                  1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                    Yes. To repeat your statement (highlighted above the squiggle line in my initial reply to you): You said "buying anything that is not on 'the list' of what is needed and/or what will be used responsibly is a waste of time and money."

                                                                                                    And to repeat what I said - coll never said she wasn't going to use whatever she bought; she was just commenting on the fact that her fridge and freezer were stuffed because she bought things on sale. That doesn't mean she isn't going to use what she bought.

                                                                                                    So how is that a waste of time and money, if she's happy doing the bargain hunting AND will use what she bought? Just because it doesn't fit your equation doesn't mean it doesn't work for her!

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      linda, how do you type the squiggle line?

                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        alka, it's the key (using the Shift) on the far upper left part of your keyboard. The lower case character is a "reverse accent" - i.e., the ` key. So I just copy/paste what the OP has written, hit the Return, and then type a small line of squiggles to break from what I will be writing.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          aha, there's that little bugger!

                                                                                                          for hounds who want to post spanish food or ingredient names with proper accent marks, here is some info about how to type a tilde.

                                                                                                          "Tilde is Alt- N and then type the letter. The "tilde key" is not actually a tilde, but a similarity sign." <thank you adamfishercox, whoever and wherever you are!> http://forums.macnn.com/90/mac-os-x/3...

                                                                                                          let me test: ñ. sí sí. ;-).

                                                                                                          on that same site, the last poster JKT has further "accent" help.

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            Good, I still haven't figured out the "Character Map" way to do this, maybe this will work.

                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                We're lucky to get Wegman's or Purdue chicken for $.99/lb. I was actually thrilled with the Bell & Evan's (no antibiotic, vegetarian feed) birds were $1.69/lb!

                                                                                                I used to get chicken legs 3lbs/$1 in Chicago, and $.69/lb in SF. Not here. Being a renter, I also don't have the space to store bulk purchases. More power to you if you have the space!

                                                                                                1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                  Well, Bell & Evans is another story! I'd pay that for a special occasion.

                                                                                            2. re: coll

                                                                                              I read the sales fliers every week and the best I've seen is 79 cents a pound for a whole Tyson chicken, but that was only once in the last six months. I was surprised to see that price. The cheapest I'd expected to see again is 99 cents, but maybe a few things are getting cheaper again. I don't have the discipline to manage my freezer over such a long time period. I admire that you can do that.

                                                                                            3. alka--don't you really mean tetris, and not rubik's? Sorry to be a geek, but that's my nature.

                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Caralien

                                                                                                I must be really old, because I know what Rubiks Cube is (had one) and had no idea what Tetris is ( I do now because I looked it up)! My freezer is like a messy Rubiks Cube. Always flipping stuff around to make a giant square where everything lines up.

                                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                                  frozen veggie "boxes" -- goood. frozen veggie bags - "baaad."

                                                                                                2. re: Caralien

                                                                                                  no, geeky soul-sister ;-), i meant rubik's cube, as i try to have some organizing principle in all the shifting of the fridge constituents (i try to group "like" things). i can't do it blindfolded, though.....: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbi-qv...
                                                                                                  nor one-handed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPjLF_...

                                                                                                  but tetris works too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0LtUX...
                                                                                                  <i never had patience for tetris, so don't think of that first. though the tetris analogy makes perfect sense also. i do pack my car's trunk like that for a long trip. that skill was a gift from my mom! ;-). works in luggage, too. >

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    Also works in stacking the dishwasher. :-)

                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      I'm just going to chime in with both an "Amen" and "thank the deity!" for this thread and such reassurance that the unholy conglomeration of condiments and leftovers and real food in this home's fridge isn't as unusual as some might insist! Four - maybe five - different cooking oils? Five different vinegars (yes! red and white wine, balsamic, sherry, champagne - no wait, make it eight, I forget the gift vinegars and the Chinese black vinegar and rice vinegar) - but thank heaven, not in the fridge, groaning as it is with hot sauces, mustards, cornichons, pickles, chili sauces...oy. My contention is, if you cook...and cook from the market - you'd darn well better expect to have a pantry and fridge full of the stuff that helps make it possible to do so. Anyhow, thanks for the thread!

                                                                                                      1. re: Alice Letseat

                                                                                                        alice, i'm humming "lady marmalade"'s intro and refrain background chant:
                                                                                                        "hey sister, go sister, soul sister....!" ;-). http://noolmusic.com/youtube_videos/l...

                                                                                                        pickles don't need the fridge, imo, nor most hot sauces -- vinegar-y stuff that can fight its own battle! i'm with ya' on the vinegars, too. mustards? "check!" but, most of mine are out of the fridge.

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                          Brilliant! At last we get to my problem, maybe other's too: what DOES need to be kept in the fridge and what doesn't! I'm sure some of the stuff booby trapping mine could stay outside nicely, but I never know what. Most of it says, Refrigerate after opening, but I'm pretty sure for at least some of the stuff, it's CYA. Like, what about jams? Jellies?
                                                                                                          Another thread?

                                                                                                          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                                            yes, another thread. but there are prior threads exactly on that topic. predictably, hounds split. some are ultra-careful, others (like me) aren't as "careful" (imo, i'm more realistic. they'd say i'm reckless.) you get the picture and the tone.

                                                                                                            but as i said, if the condiment can fight for itself, no fridge (usually). i've left commercial jelly out. hot sauces -- no fridge (unless there is fresh fruit components...) if it's cooked with vinegar: "no fridge for you." (condiment nazi)

                                                                                                            most chinese pastes, nah. i use a case by case analysis of ingredients, and the acidity and/or fermentation level. others (will definitely) disagree. that is the nature of the chow beast, i guess.

                                                                                                            on this advice, i need to de-fridge many condiments -- to give my arugula and tasso ham a chance! ;-).

                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                              There are people on both sides regarding mayo too.

                                                                                                  2. the concept in the OP of correctly arranging condiments for max capacity was indeed TETRIS -- not rubik's cube (so much for my gaming knowledge)!

                                                                                                    here is TETRIS applied to your dishwasher -->

                                                                                                    Happy New Year -- may all your "arranging" be great in 2013.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      Our bar/liquor closest fits that descrip beautifully :0)
                                                                                                      the rest of the joint...not so much. Condiments have their own carosel, own shelf in both refrig's and even a summer set has it's own place on the porch. Condiment kings rule!

                                                                                                    2. Ha ha ha! Finding the 'missing' sriracha behind the milk on the top shelf was a first clue. I try to put things near the top shelf of the frig so it will 'catch my eye' and remind me to use it, but the sriracha was a - there's no where else it will fit conundrum.

                                                                                                      So, yeah I do the Rubik's cube w/ the frig. Not so much the freezer, it's on shelves according to what it is (frozen dairy, meat, veggies, leftovers, nuts are in the door along w/ spices) but there's a strange lack of proper placement for the frozen / chilled booze. They get moved around A LOT according to what needs to fit. I once broke a toe from a frozen vodka bottle flying out (unbroken - the bottle, not the toe)

                                                                                                      And here's the funny part and why I replied to this thread - DS is an absolute MASTER of Rubik's. No shit.

                                                                                                      1. No. I have never done that. I don't use many condiments, and I cook everything fresh. I shop a lot instead. I live in the city.