How to keep food fresh for as long as possible

Aug 20, 2009 at 6:20 p.m. ET

We all know that making the most of your money is more important than ever. So who wants to spend all that money at the grocery store just to watch it go to waste due to spoilage? Here are a few tips to help you get the longest shelf life out of your fruit and veggies, meats and non-perishables.

Woman buying pepperStep 1: Check the dates

When you're doing your grocery shopping, be sure to check expiration dates on all perishable items.

Step 2: Look at your fridge

Make sure that your refrigerator is set at the right temperature. Manufacturers' settings usually recommend the temperature be set between 38 and 40 degrees F to keep your food fresh, but not frozen!

Step 3: Dry the produce

If you wash your produce before refrigerating, be sure it is completely dry before you store it. Moisture can invite rotting and mold.

Step 4: Remove the bags

Avoid storing produce in plastic bags – allowing it to breath will help maintain its shelf life. The bags will trap the ethylene that fruit produces, causing it to ripen faster. You can keep meat in its packaging if you will be using it within a few days.

Step 5: Wrap the meat

If you are going to freeze meat, use foil or freezer paper to help preserve it and ward off "freezer burn."

Step 6: Store dairy carefully

Don't store milk in the shelves of the refrigerator door, where it is warmer. Wrap cheese in wax paper or plastic wrap, then store it in the deli drawer of the refrigerator.

Step 7: Seal berries

Store blueberries, strawberries and raspberries in a resealable plastic bag at the back of the refrigerator.

Step 8: Free the bananas

Keep bananas on the countertop, unbagged.

Step 9: Secure the lettuce

After you wash your lettuce allow it to dry, then wrap it in damp paper towels and store it in a plastic bag.

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For more info on this topic...For more tips on fresh food, check this out:
How to pick fresh fruit