When it comes to food, everyone’s heard the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But that'll only work if you keep your apples separate (apples cause other produce to spoil more quickly). You may have already mastered perimeter shopping and the farmers' market game plan, but all will be for naught if the food you buy doesn't hold up once you get home. Never throw out stale bread or spoiled milk again: Storing food correctly will make it taste better and last longer, saving you money. Check out our tips and click on the infographic below for the low-down on storing specific foods in your kitchen.
Rules for the Fridge
- Set your fridge’s temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit—any lower, and you're wasting energy. Raising your fridge's temperature by two degrees will save you about $20 per year.
- Don’t overstuff it. Overfilling the fridge prevents proper air circulation and can raise the temperature of some of your items, causing them to spoil more quickly.
- Set your freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, max (any lower, and you're wasting energy and money). For every five degrees it's raised over zero, your food’s storage time is sliced in half.
- If there's a power outage, food will be safe for up to 48 hours in a full freezer and 24 hours in a half-full freezer. If the power has been out for over four hours, throw out perishables in the fridge like meat, seafood and dairy.
Rules for Leftovers
- Store leftovers in the smallest possible containers that can be tightly sealed. This will save space in your fridge and prevent bacteria from growing due to air exposure.
- Once you open a can of something like beans or corn, store the leftovers in a different container, rather than the original can. Once exposed to air, the metal on the rim will leave a metallic taste on the food inside.
- Don’t be too quick to toss: Items like honey, rice, sugar, liquor, maple syrup, vanilla extract, white vinegar, salt and cornstarch will last for years after being opened, as long as they've been stored well.
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Rules for Reading Labels
- Buy foods before the sell-by date, but note that those dates on perishables like meat, seafood and dairy products tell grocers how long to keep a product on the shelf. You can keep eating them after that date as long as the item has been properly maintained and stored.
- "Best If Used By" dates are generally found on products that don’t spoil easily and can sit on shelves for a long time, like mustard, peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc. These items will taste best if eaten by the recommended date but can be eaten after the date has passed if they've been well-maintained.