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How Long Fresh Foods Really Last in the Refrigerator


SheKnows Editorial

There’s a special version of Murphy’s Law for fresh foods — you either never have enough or over-purchase and watch it all go bad in the fridge. It’s super-frustrating, especially when you think about all the money that’s going right in the garbage can with all that wasted food.

But with a strategy and some knowledge about the shelf life of the foods you buy, you can help eliminate some of the waste and money dump. Take a look at our top five tips for storing fresh foods below, then take a peek at our food shelf-life chart — so you’ll know exactly how long you can expect to keep your groceries around.

1. Always cut the tops of root vegetables.

Always cut off the tops of root vegetables like carrots, beets and radishes before storing in the refrigerator. Leaving the tops on will draw moisture from the veggies. You can store the leafy tops wrapped in paper towel in a plastic bag if you plan on eating them.

More: Instagramming Your Food Could Help You Eat Healthier

2. Never thaw meat on the counter.

You should always try to plan ahead and thaw meat in the refrigerator overnight. If you find yourself in a bind and need to use frozen meat for dinner tonight, try using this method and thawing in water.

3. Don’t keep bread in the fridge.

It dries out the bread and makes it go stale faster. Bread will usually last around four days at room temperature, so separate loaves into how much you think you’ll eat within that time frame, and freeze the rest.

4. Store produce separately.

Certain fruits and vegetables should be stored separately. Most fruits produce ethylene as they ripen, a gas that can cause vegetables to spoil prematurely. Apples, cantaloupe, nectarines and plums, to name a few, can cause veggies like broccoli, peas, cabbage and beans to go bad fast. Get the full list.

5. Refrigerate produce after cutting.

Even when dealing with produce you normally store on the counter, if you’re saving leftovers, they should be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator so they don’t spoil.

More: The One Thing You Should Never Do With Watermelon

food storage chart
Image: Karen Cox/SheKnows

Originally published February 2016. Updated May 2017.

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