How to Store Food in the Refrigerator

Decay, mold, and odors can spread among foods in the refrigerator.


Follow these tips to keep foods―including leftovers―


fresher longer and reduce the risk of contamination.


by Sarah Humphreys/REAL SIMPLE



Meat, Fish, and Poultry


Keep all fresh meat, fish, and poultry in its store wrapping. (Re-wrapping increases the risk of exposing the food to harmful bacteria.)


If the item didn’t come in a Styrofoam tray, slide a plate underneath it to catch any drippings




Leave cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, milk, and cream in the containers they came in. But after transferring milk to a pitcher or sour cream to a serving bowl, don’t return them to the original containers. Instead, tightly cover the pitcher or bowl with plastic wrap.


Store hard cheeses in the store wrapping until you use them, then wrap them in wax paper, foil, or loose plastic.


Plastic milk bottles make more sense than cardboard cartons, since bacteria can grow near the cardboard spout and enter a glass of milk every time you pour. Nevertheless, as long as you use the milk within its shelf life, it should be safe to drink.


Fruits and Vegetables


Keep fruits and vegetables separate and store like with like: apples with apples, carrots with carrots. Fruits and vegetables give off different gases that can cause others to deteriorate.


Store fruits and vegetables susceptible to drying out in perforated or unsealed plastic bags to maintain a moist environment yet still allow air to circulate.


Don’t wash produce before refrigerating it. The dampness can make it mold and rot more quickly.