Updated on April 18, 2022
When stored properly, foods remain safe and retain their quality, nutrients and flavor or longer. Be sure to store foods in the right container, at the right temperature and for the right length of time. Proper food storage will reduce your risk of food poisoning and also stretch your wallet since your food won’t spoil as quickly.
It is easy for foods to get lost in the vast expanses of your refrigerator. To keep perishable food safe and out of the danger zone, you must wrap and store it properly for the appropriate amount of time.
Table of Contents
How Do You Put Food in The Fridge
In the Fridge
From meats to cheeses and leftovers, use these tips to ensure you are storing foods safely in the refrigerator.
- Keep your refrigerator below 40°F. At this temperature, bacteria that spoil food grow slowly. Buy a refrigerator thermometer and keep it in your fridge. Also, make your refrigerator raids quick so the door doesn’t stay open for too long.
- Store all foods wrapped or in covered containers. Leave food in its store wrapping unless the package is torn. If you have to re-wrap, seal storage containers well to prevent moisture loss and absorption of odors.
- Store foods quickly. Don’t keep perishable foods at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- Avoid overloading your refrigerator because cold air needs room to circulate.
- Once a week, clean out the refrigerator. Discard any questionable foods rather than risk food poisoning. When in doub — throw it out!
- If food is moldy, discard it in a bag or wrapper so mold spores don’t spread. Clean the moldy food’s container and the refrigerator or pantry to remove mold spores. Check items that the moldy food may have touched because mold spreads fast on fruits and vegetables.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
- Keep packages of raw meat, poultry and fish in a separate plastic bag, bowl or pan on the lowest refrigerator shelf. This keeps juices from dripping onto other foods, and the lowest shelf is usually the coldest.
- Use fresh meat, poultry and fish within a couple days. Toss meat, poultry or fish with an off odor, a sticky or slimy surface or perhaps a discoloration.
- Eggs will stay fresher longer if you keep them in their carton, not in the egg tray or door shelf.
- Use fresh eggs in the shell within three to five weeks.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Refrigerate perishable fruits and vegetables such as berries, lettuce, mushrooms and herbs. Wait to wash fresh produce until just before using, and dry all fresh produce thoroughly with a paper towel after washing.
- Keep produce in crisper bins in the refrigerator. That helps retain moisture. If possible, keep fruit in a separate crisper from vegetables because fruit gives off ethylene gas that can shorten storage life.
- Refrigerate cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables.
Fresh Dairy Products
- Refrigerate all dairy products promptly and preferable in the back of the refrigerator because it’s colder. Cover well so they don’t pick up other odors.
- Once milk is poured, never return it to its original container because it can be contaminated with outside organisms that cause spoilage and food poisoning.
Grains and Canned Foods
- If stored properly in airtight containers, most whole-grain flours and meals will keep for 1 to 3 months on a cool, dry pantry shelf or 2 to 6 months in the freezer.
- Once canned foods have been opened, transfer them to a clean, covered container before refrigerating. You can refrigerate opened canned foods in the can if covered, but flavor may be affected.
- Refrigerate promptly – even if leftovers are still warm – to ensure they don’t enter the danger zone, between 40°F and 140°F.
- Store large amounts of leftovers in several small, shallow containers to cool faster.
- Carefully date leftovers and keep them at the front of the refrigerator where you can see them and use them right away.
- Discard all leftovers after four days.
- Remove as much air as possible from storage bags to keep foods fresh longer. The less you handle food, the better.
Doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for foods that are most resistant to spoiling. Keep condiments, juices, and other foods that can stand up to temperature fluctuations here.
(And remember that ketchup isn’t eternal — even condiments have a shelf life).
Since fridge doors can get warm, particularly when they’re opened regularly, eggs and dairy shouldn’t go here, even if you guzzle milk straight from the carton all the livelong day.
If you’ve got eggs that desperately need using, we found 27 amazing things to do with them.
The upper shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temperatures, while the lower shelves are coldest.
One pro strategy they use in restaurant kitchens is to place foods that do not need cooking near the top of the fridge.
This includes leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat foods like tortillas, hummus, and deli meats. You can also keep herbs fresh by placing them upright in a vase or jar with water and loosely covering it with a plastic bag.
You’ll also want to keep berries up here for easy access (see the crisper section for more berry useful info).
If you love blueberries as much as we do, here are 56 ways to use them (if you don’t feel like storing them).
The lower shelves are your best bet for raw meat, eggs, seafood, and other dairy. They need to be stored at the coldest temperatures.
To prevent bacteria spreading from raw meat to other areas, assign a particular section of the fridge as your meat locker. This is now for meat and nothing else. No vegetable shall pass these boundaries.
Keep meat in its original packaging, and place it on a plate or in an improvised bin that receives regular cleaning.
Overall: Don’t crowd your shelves too much. Unlike the freezer, the fridge shouldn’t be totally packed. Cold air needs to flow here. If it can’t, you’ll get inconsistent temperatures with pockets of heat and warmth — no-nos when it comes to preserving food.
(Lukewarm yogurt, anyone? Yeeeeeeah, didn’t think so. Why not try this fresh yogurt recipe?)
The purpose of crisper drawers is to maintain moist conditions that help preserve fruits and vegetables. But don’t make the mistake of jumbling all your produce together in a fruit and veg free-for-all — there’s a method to the madness.
Many fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes, produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them to ripen.
Unfortunately, this can also promote ripening in other plants, causing vegetables to go yellow, limp, or even sprout. You know how they say a bad apple ruins the batch? This is why.
For this reason, keep veggies in one drawer and fruits in another.
It goes without say that you should wash fruits and veggies before eating them. However, too much moisture can cause foods to flip from ripe to rotten before you can get your antioxidants on. And that helps no one.
The goal is to wash fruits and veggies when it’s convenient, but not so far in advance that they’re likely to spoil before you eat them.
When washing fruits, remove extra moisture by draining them in a colander, blotting them with paper towel, or using a salad spinner.
Berries are particularly fragile, so handle them with care and gobble them within a day or 2 of washing. (Storing them on the top shelf of thfridge will help with that.)
Once you’ve given your grub a wash, put any greens and herbs in a plastic bag or container with a square of paper towel to soak up excess moisture and everything else in clean (and preferably clear) containers.
Put the containers back in the crisper for longer-term storage or on the top shelf where you’re more likely to see them and eat them up quickly (om nom nom nom).
Hi, I am Alee Marton I am in the industry of kitchen products for almost 7 years. I have tested more than 20000 different gadgets used in kitchen for ease of work. I am here to share my experience and help you select the best product for your kitchen.