What’s Hiding in Your Refrigerator?

February 12th, 2013 posted by Kelly Huckaby

Suggested Storage Times

(from Ziploc.com)


2 days: high moisture vegetables, ground meats, berries 1 week: milk, citrus fruits, opened packages of hot dogs and bacon 1-3 months: butter/margarine, mayonnaise, hard cheeses


1 month: ice cream, bacon, ground pork 3 months: bread, steaks, cooked meals 6 months: beef roasts, butter, fish 12 months: cookies, juices, egg whites/yolks (these must be separated – you cannot freeze eggs in the shell.)

by Kelly Huckaby

refrigerator You’ve seen the commercial: Tommy LaSorta has a bag of moldy tomatoes because he used the wrong storage bag to store them in for 28 days. I realize the company is trying to make a point, but I also know you just don’t keep tomatoes around for 28 days! Then I started thinking about storing various foods in the refrigerator and freezer – where should they be placed and what should they be stored in?

Where to Put Things

Top or Bottom?

I decided to take a survey to see how other women organized their refrigerators. Interestingly, we all seem to place things in similar spots. Beverages (milk, juice, soda pop, etc.) and other frequently used items earned top shelf status in the refrigerator. Dairy products (cheeses, eggs, sour cream, etc.) and breads (bagels, English muffins, loaves of bread, etc.) are in the middle, and the bottom shelf holds supper meats, leftovers, bags of fruits or vegetables, and any other large items that don’t fit on the other shelves. The bottom bins hold fruits and vegetables, and an occasional dessert that needs to be hidden.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Keep frequently used items within reach
  • Keep items that need cooler temperatures near the bottom
  • Keep your refrigerator temp between 35 and 40 degrees F


Door, Shelf, or Bin?

Drawers near the top of the refrigerator are specially designed to be colder, to keep meats fresher. If your drawer has a lever for varying the temperature, set it at coldest for meats, and less cold for vegetables or cheeses.

Bins at the bottom of the refrigerator are designed for fruits and vegetables. If they have adjustable humidity controls, set it higher for vegetables, and lower for fruits. If you don’t have humidity controls, leave the drawer slightly open to allow air to flow in and prevent moisture build up – this is important for moisture-laden foods like lettuce and celery.

If your refrigerator can hold gallons of milk in the door that’s a good place to keep them, along with dairy items and condiments. According to the GE Answer Center the cantilever shelves, those that only have rear supports, are tested for 35 pounds per square foot. That means you can put six one-gallon containers on a full width shelf.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • The more people in your home, the more the refrigerator will be opened, allowing cool air to escape
  • Incorrectly setting the temperature controls can cause frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Excess moisture in the vegetable bins will cause produce to spoil more quickly

Refrigerator Freezer vs. Chest Freezer.

Not everyone has the luxury of owning a separate freezer. If you are limited to the freezer attached to your refrigerator, set up a system that will allow you to know what is on each shelf: meats/poultry, dairy/breads, vegetables, etc. This system also works for separate freezers.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Always remove store wrapping and wrap items in freezer-weight foil or paper
  • The day before adding a large quantity of food, turn the freezer to its coldest setting
  • Mark “use by” date on freezer packaging, and be sure to rotate items to avoid spoilage

What to Put Things In

Clear containers, wraps and bags are ideal – you’ll know exactly what’s inside with just a glance. Sauces and other casserole-type leftovers are best placed in plastic containers, while dry items, like chicken breasts, pork chops and hamburgers can be placed into plastic bags. Permanent markers can be used for writing on plastic bags, and ballpoint pen on Avery labels works well for marking freezer containers.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Always remove as much air as possible when preparing items for freezing
  • Raw or cooked meat can be successfully frozen only once
  • Keep freezers 75% full to run efficiently – use jugs of water to take up space if needed

With a little planning, your refrigerator and freezer can be an efficient storage area.

Kelly Huckaby (14 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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