My refrigerator is loaded with produce, dairy products and meat that I wisely purchased using a brilliant combination of coupons and sales. But the money I saved using my couponing skills would be useless if all that food went to waste because of improper storage!

I've learned to make perishable food last to its fullest potential (and even beyond) by learning how to properly store food in my fridge.

Here's how to give perishables a happy and longer life in the refrigerator:

Produce

To wash or not to wash? Only certain veggies should be washed before refrigerating. Give lettuce, mushrooms, carrots and celery a bath in ice water, and then dry thoroughly (pat with a paper towel or spin lettuce in a salad spinner). Never refrigerate veggies while wet because this will cause them to spoil faster.

Veggies like zucchini should be refrigerated unwashed (in plastic produce bags) and washed when ready to use.

Store apples separate from other fruits and vegetables. Apples produce higher levels of a gas called ethylene (it is harmless and found in other produce but in lower levels), and when they come in contact with other food it accelerates the ripening process, making food spoil quicker.

Meat

Keep meat in original packaging until ready to use. Don't transfer to a new container and refrigerate prior to cooking, because it can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria.

Store meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge (the coolest location) to maximize freshness.

Cheese and butter

Store these products on the top or middle shelf. Don't place these products in the door, where the temperature can fluctuate and promote spoilage. Keep butter in its original packaging or in a covered butter dish. Cheese should be wrapped in plastic or foil.

Eggs

Don't store eggs inside the refrigerator door (again: the temperature isn't ideal). Instead, keep eggs on one of the lower shelves and leave eggs in their original carton.

Milk

That beverage storage space located in the refrigerator door sure is handy, but guess what? It isn't a safe place to keep perishable dairy products. Keep milk cartons on the lowest shelf possible (remember, the lower the shelf the colder it is). Use the refrigerator door to store items that won't spoil as easily, such as condiments and certain juices, or a pitcher of water.

 

Frugal Fridge: How to Properly Store Perishables