How to Organize Your Fridge Food and How Long It Will Typically Last

Food waste is a major problem in the United States and all across the world. Part of the problem comes from improper storage of food, especially in the fridge. Different foods, depending on where they are in your refrigerator, have certain places that will help them not to spoil as fast. It may sound like common knowledge, but temperatures vary on your fridge’s different shelves. Here is what you need to know as you organize your fridge food so you can make each item last.

The Different Sections of Your Fridge

The sections of your fridge that we will discuss include the doors, upper shelves, lower shelves, crisper, and freezer. Each food item you have will have a longer life if you put it in the right spot. If you do not already know, here is what we advise you store in each section to increase food preservation.

Doors

The doors are the warmest part of your fridge, so you need to be careful which fridge food you store there. Frequent opening of your refrigerator allows the room temperature air inside, and the food on the doors are the most exposed. Because of this, you will need to place food items that deal with temperature fluctuations well in the doors. We recommend placing condiments, juice, and water there.

Avoid placing dairy and eggs in the door shelves because they do not fare as well with temperature changes.

Upper Shelves

The upper shelves of your fridge have the most consistent temperatures, and we recommend placing fridge food that is ready to eat in this area. This includes foods like leftovers, drinks, tortillas, hummus, and deli meat. You can also keep herbs on the upper shelves, just make sure it is in a container with water.

Place berries there as well, especially if you have already washed them. Exposing them to moisture can make them spoil faster, so placing them on the upper shelves puts them at eye level. This helps you remember to eat them before they grow mold!

Lower Shelves

The lower shelves of your fridge have the coldest temperatures. This means that you will need to place the fridge foods that are not already cooked here. Have you ever wondered where to store raw meat in your fridge? The lower shelves are a perfect place because the coolest spot in the fridge is the least likely place for bacteria to grow. You should also store your dairy and eggs on the lower shelves.

Crisper

The crisper drawers in your fridge help maintain the moist conditions that your fruits and vegetables need to stay fresh for longer periods of time. While it is common knowledge to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, it is a bad idea to do so too long before you plan on eating them. As mentioned with the berries on the upper shelves, the moisture can shorten their lifespan and mold can grow fast. Make sure you only wash them before eating, and if you put them back in the fridge, eat the rest within a couple of days.

It is also important to know that fruits and vegetables should be stored in their own separate drawers. Several fruits (including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes) produce ethylene, which is a gas that causes vegetables to wilt and go bad faster. Storing them in separate crisper drawers will prevent this problem.

Freezer

It is easier to get right the proper way of storing food in the freezer. If the food is frozen, you need to store it in the freezer. Make sure to use containers and bags that are safe for the freezer because containers like glass are likely to break. Lay your food flat and stack them; you can pack everything as tight as you want.

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Other Food Preservation Tips

Knowing the different sections of your fridge is the best way to store your fridge food, but there are other tips that will help you to prolong the life of your food before it spoils. Keep these in mind as well when you choose which items to refrigerate and freeze.

Do Not Store Food On Top of Your Fridge

Especially in a small kitchen, storing food on top of the fridge sounds like a great place to store different food items. In actuality, as your fridge uses electricity to pump out warm air, it releases the heat outside the fridge, which travels to the top of it. This can make your bread mold faster and ruin a bottle of wine. Instead, place other non-food items on top of the fridge, like small appliances.

Do Not Pack Your Fridge Full

Though it is okay to fill your freezer to the brim, it is not good for your fridge food. Cool air needs to circulate through the area, and a packed fridge will prevent that circulation. This creates irregular temperatures throughout the fridge and can prevent foods from cooling down completely. Try to keep your fridge about two thirds of the way full. This maximizes the space available without preventing air flow.

Set Your Fridge Temperature

In order for your fridge food to last longer, you need to set your fridge to the right temperature. Modern refrigerators will have a digital thermometer, but you can always invest in a fridge thermometer if you have an older one. Setting your fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit may not be cold enough for some foods and bacteria can grow, but food starts freezing at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the temperature between 35 and 38 degrees will provide the best environment for your food.

How Long Fridge Food Typically Lasts

The longevity of food depends on how you store it and if the temperature is right. The time periods listed below are based on if your fridge is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

  • Bacon, cooked: 1 week
  • Bread dough: 3 to 4 days
  • Butter: 1 to 3 months
  • Cheese, hard: 6 months
  • Cheese, soft, opened: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Cheese, soft, unopened: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Chicken (or turkey), fresh: 1 to 2 days
  • Fresh eggs, in shell: 3 to 5 weeks
  • Fish, cooked: 3 to 4 days
  • Fish, fresh: 1 to 2 days
  • Fruit or pumpkin pies, baked: 2 to 3 days
  • Fruit or pumpkin pies, unbaked: 1 to 2 days
  • Gravy, meat broth: 1 to 2 days
  • Hard-boiled eggs: 1 week
  • Mashed potatoes: 3 to 4 days
  • Meat, cooked: 3 to 4 days
  • Olives and pickles: 1 month
  • Poultry, cooked: 3 to 4 days
  • Soups and stews: 2 to 4 days
  • Steaks and roasts, uncooked: 3 to 5 days
  • Stuffing, cooked: 3 to 4 days
  • White wine, recorked: 1 to 2 days

Conclusion

To reduce food waste, we have to be aware of how we are storing our food and the environment we expose it to. The tips on which section to store your fridge foods on will help you organize your food better and enjoy each item for a longer period of time.

Image Source: Pixabay

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Lacey Jolley
 

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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