For most, grocery shopping is the easy part. However, storing and putting your food away, that can be tricky! Here’s an excellent resource provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- FREEZER (0°F or below):
- Wrap and label meat, fish and poultry that you plan to freeze.
- FRIDGE (34°F – 40°F):
- Dairy and eggs should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge, usually near the back and away from the door.
- Put meat in the meat drawer or on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.
- Use the crisper or produce drawers for veggies!
- Olive oil and nut oils go rancid quickly when exposed to light and heat, which puts the kibosh on their healthful qualities. Refrigeration may cause these oils to become cloudy, but they’ll clear up when they return to room temperature.
- Cheese may be best served at room temperature — but, like all animal-derived food, still needs to be stored in the fridge. Take it out a short time before serving for the best flavor. Perishable foods, including cheese, should be thrown out if they are kept out of the refrigerator for two or more hours. In the warmer months, that amount of time will be less.
- Butter should be kept cold. Your grandma may have kept her butter in a crock on the counter to keep it nice and spreadable. However, keeping butter refrigerated avoids risky bacterial contamination. If you want soft butter, remove it for a little while before serving to let it soften.
- PANTRY or COUNTERTOP (50°F – 70°F):
- Canned goods last 2+ years but can be damaged by temperatures above 100°F.
- Mayo and similar condiments can be stored in the pantry; move them to the fridge when it’s been opened.
- Honey is very shelf-stable and will last a long time. Also, if you chill honey it becomes hard to pour, so keep it in your pantry.
- Tomatoes fare better when kept out of the fridge, where they can become mealy. It’s true that they spoil faster when stored on the counter. If you won’t be eating them within 1 to 2 days, store ripened tomatoes in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. However, keep in mind that once you cut into a tomato (or any fruit or vegetable), it needs to be refrigerated to slow the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Potatoes and Onions like the same conditions, but they should not be stored together. Potato starch turns to sugar when refrigerated. Potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool, dry place such as the bottom of your pantry. Remove any potatoes and onions that go bad in the pantry from the rest.
- Bread can stale quickly in the fridge due to the dry circulating air. If you’re afraid your bread will become moldy because your kitchen is hot or humid, or because you won’t be eating it quickly, freeze it. You can remove only what you need and thaw it on the counter or in the toaster on the “defrost” setting.
- Peanut butter becomes difficult to spread when it’s cold, so store it in your pantry if you will use it within 2 to 3 months. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 months. However, if you buy natural peanut butter, check the label; some brands recommend refrigeration to keep the natural oils from separating.
- Fruits with pits, like peaches and plums, should be placed in a closed paper bag until ripe — then refrigerated. Keep tomatoes in the pantry only if they’ll be eaten within 1-2 days — otherwise, they go in the fridge.
Learn more from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Visit eatright.org for more information on healthful eating or to find a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Click here for a handy printable chart on Storing Fruits and Veggies from Purdue Extension.