Your favourite grocery essentials have just arrived — hurrah! Before you pop that thick-cut bacon or baba ghanoush into the first open slot in your fridge, let’s take a second to figure out what spot is best suited for all your favourite meats, cheeses, produce, and other products.
Although you may not have given much thought to what goes where, a properly organized fridge can help avoid cross-contamination, prolong the shelf life of certain foods, and save you money by reducing food waste.
We asked our Food Safety Director, Matthew Sklar, for his top tips on the optimal ways of storing food in the fridge for maximum freshness. Let’s dive in!
Breaking It Down Shelf by Shelf
From the crisper drawers to the top shelf to the door, every part of your fridge is designed to house certain items to maintain freshness and prevent spoiling.
Door: Condiments & Beverages
Store Goodfood grocery essentials like Bittersweet Grapefruit Kombucha, Fiery Hot BBQ Sauce, Dijon Mustard in the door.
Generally, the best products to keep in your fridge door are condiments and non-dairy drinks like juices and sodas that don’t necessarily require refrigeration. With the temperature fluctuations that result from frequently opening and closing of the door, this shelving tends to be the warmest area of the fridge. It’s best to avoid storing temperature-sensitive foods like eggs and milk or milk alternatives in this section.
Drawers: Fruits & Veggies
This is a good place to store your Goodfood recipe bags.
Ideally, whole fruits and veggies should be stored in separate crisper drawers with different humidity settings — fruits at low humidity, veggies and leafy greens at high humidity — for maximum freshness. Try to store in packaging or containers that have holes or vents to allow moisture to escape. Make sure to keep fruits and vegetables away from meat to avoid cross-contamination.
Bottom Shelf: Raw Meat & Fish
Goodfood grocery essential items like Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, AAA Striploin Steak, and Wild-Caught Haddock Loins are best stored on your bottom shelf.
When storing raw meat, fish, and seafood in your refrigerator, keep them on the lowest possible shelf (not counting your crisper drawers) and separate them from each other. Juices can sometimes leak from the packaging, so you shouldn’t store meat directly above any foods that may be served raw. The lower you can store it, the less you have to worry about any accidental leakage contaminating other items.
“When I’m putting my groceries away, I usually store raw meat or fish on a plate or a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of my fridge to catch any leaks, in case the package is damaged,” says Matthew Sklar, our Food Safety Director. “This is also important for frozen food defrosting in the fridge, which is a bit more likely to leak as it thaws.”
Middle & Top Shelves: Dairy, Eggs & Ready-to-eat
Make room on the middle and top shelves for Goodfood Ready-to-eat Meals & Salads, Fully Cooked BBQ Chicken Breasts, and Lactose-Free Lemon Yogurt!
The middle and top shelves, far away from the raw meats and fish at the bottom of the fridge, are the prime spot for ready-to-eat meals, leftovers stored in airtight containers, packaged salads, and fresh herbs.
Dairy products and eggs should also be kept in an area with a more consistently cool temperature. Generally, this is closer to the back of the fridge. “Some experts also recommend storing milk and other perishable dairy products on the bottom shelf at the back where it tends to be the coolest. I like to keep my milk bags on the bottom shelf but more frequently used things like yogurt on the middle shelf,” explains Matthew.
Top of the Fridge: Kitchen Extras
The top of the fridge, also known as the bonus shelf! Although this is a convenient place for kitchen tools, small appliances, and cookbooks, you should avoid storing food items like wine, bread, coffee, or fruits and veggies like bananas or avocados in this space. Like any machine, a fridge tends to release heat and that heat can change the flavour or expedite spoilage of food items.
Other Ways to Keep Your Fridge in Tip-top Shape
- Set the Right Temperature: To keep food at its freshest and prevent bacteria from multiplying, your fridge should be set to a temperature of between 1°C and 5°C.
- Store Food in Small Containers: Let’s put those mason jars and reusable containers to good use! “Food spoilage is caused not just by bacteria, but also by oxygen. By storing food in smaller containers you minimize air contact and can prolong shelf-life. I also like the way my fridge looks when everything is in a uniform mason jar, instead of whatever random shape manufacturing decided was best,” explains Matthew.
- Label Everything: “Labelling things with the cooked-on date (leftovers) or the opening date (cheese, deli meats, condiments) is a great way to make sure you eat things quickly and don’t let something sit for too long,” says Matthew.
- Don’t Overload It: Avoid stuffing your fridge to the brim. The more items packed in, the less opportunity air has to circulate, which can cause uneven temperatures and food spoilage. Plus, the more visibility you have on your groceries, the better chance you’ll be able to use it before it spoils (no more forgotten mystery mush at the back of the fridge!). Rotate older stock to the front so you remember to use it first.
- Keep it Clean: Sticky spills and unnoticed leaks are inevitable, so be sure to regularly wipe down shelves, walls, and drawers with hot, soapy water to prevent the buildup of bacteria and mould. “Be sure to rinse well to remove all the soap and make sure to dry everything properly — you don’t want extra humidity in the fridge, that can lead to spoilage,” says Matthew.
Now that’s how to store food in the fridge for optimal freshness. This weekend, take a few minutes to organize your fridge to help save money and reduce food waste!
Feature Image, Image 1-4: via Goodfood