Americans are cooking more than ever which means they’re wasting more food than ever

4 min readFeb 10, 2021


The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Rubbermaid found the average person spent 19 more minutes in the kitchen each day since the pandemic began ‒ that’s a total of 97 additional hours in the kitchen. (Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash)

From moldy meatloaf to smelly beans buried on the back shelf, the average American fridge is a horror show, with at least FIVE expired items in their refrigerator right now.

A survey of 2,000 census-balanced Americans revealed the average respondent estimated it was five weeks before the foulest item in their fridge was discovered.

Among other shocking finds from the fridge respondents listed cream cheese that had gone pink, moldy cucumber water and even insects.

Many are blaming the pandemic for the leftover mania they’ve found themselves in.

The survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Rubbermaid found the average person spent 19 more minutes in the kitchen each day since the pandemic began ‒ that’s a total of 97 additional hours in the kitchen.

With so much time spent slicing and dicing, it’s no wonder nearly two in three (64%) said their increased cooking habits have led to more leftovers sitting in their refrigerators.

Once the leftovers make it in the fridge, they don’t always come out in a timely manner, as 60% confessed they sometimes forget their leftovers are in the fridge.

Forgotten leftovers can lead to unpleasant moments later, as 56% said they hate wasting food, 45% hate the clean-up and 41% can’t stand the smell of their forgotten leftovers.d

Those revolting foods can wreak havoc on the containers they were stored in.

Almost half (48%) have thrown out a whole container of leftovers because the smell was so bad while two in three said the smell of their leftovers even lingers on their containers.

Seventy-three percent said a funky odor will deter them from eating the leftover altogether with broccoli, fish and fruit all listed as frequent culprits.

Kris Malkoski, CEO, Food Business Unit at Newell Brands, said, “With pandemic cooking at an all-time high, our fridges are getting a workout and sometimes those leftover smells are more than our noses can handle! But there are solutions — choosing food storage containers that help resist odor-causing bacterial growth can help leftovers stay protected and fresh longer, alleviating the headache that comes from having to throw leftovers away and cooking a new meal from scratch.”

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they didn’t think they would forget about their leftovers if they could just keep their refrigerator more organized.

When asked what would help keep their refrigerators in better order, 42% said they wanted stackable storage containers.

The container clutter isn’t even confined to the fridge, as 41% admitted they have a cabinet or shelf full of mismatched containers and lids.

Eighty-five percent said they’re making it a goal to better organize their mismatched containers system.

While three in ten think their refrigerator should be cleaned out on a monthly basis, the average respondent has gone five months without tidying up.

Malkoski added, “Spring cleaning is right around the corner, and as people feel the need to clean and get organized, we’re making it easy for them. We all know how frustrating it can be to lose a container lid or try to find the right one from a hodgepodge. Something as simple as having lids that snap together and to container bases can help optimize shelf space — whether in the fridge or cabinet — and reduce overall clutter.”


  1. Wasting food 56%
  2. The cleanup 45%
  3. The smell 41%
  4. Wasting time, energy, and food cooking when something was ready 38%
  5. Taking up unnecessary space in the refrigerator 34%


  1. Container size 57%
  2. Container material 50%
  3. Container shape 41%
  4. Container organization 38%
  5. Container leftover smell 22%

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