Refrigerate after Opening: A Guide to Food Storage

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Refrigerator food storage preserves foods for a longer time, while keeping you safe from bacteria and harmful contaminants. Each food has its own guidelines, and if packaged, the manufacturer often gives instructions, such as “refrigerate after opening.” Understanding what common foods should be refrigerated is helpful for foods that aren’t processed or packaged, such as produce and items that you buy at your local farmer’s market or grow yourself.

Food Storage in Your Cupboards

Not all foods need to be refrigerated. Food storage in cupboards that are as far away as possible from the kitchen stove is best. Some common foods to store are:

-Hot and cold cereals  (unopened and opened)
-Bread rolls and dried crumbs
-Powdered milk
-Pasta, such as spaghetti and elbow macaroni
-Rice, including brown rice (uncooked)

Extend the shelf life of the foods you store in cupboards by taking them out of the original package and storing them in air tight containers. Consider purchasing five gallon food grade buckets with oxygen absorber packets if you like to buy food in bulk.

Food Storage in Your Refrigerator

Most of your other foods will need to be stored in your refrigerator or freezer. The ideal temperature for your freezer is below zero degrees Fahrenheit. However, you should set your refrigerator between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.  Because of the huge variation in the temperature between your refrigerator and freezer, it’s important to know what foods go where. Store these common foods in your refrigerator:

-Fresh fruits and any canned fruit that’s opened
-Fresh vegetables, including peas that are unshelled
-Red meats, such as uncooked, cooked and leftovers
-Poultry, such as uncooked, cooked and leftovers
-Fish, including any canned fish that’s opened
-Smoked meats
-Baby foods, both liquid and solid
-Custards and puddings
-Soups and sandwiches
-Cakes and cookies

Plastic wraps and refrigerator containers are best for most foods. Produce can be stored in or outside of bags before placing them in refrigerator doors at the bottom of your fridge.

Food Storage of Mixes and Packaged Foods

If you rely on mixes and packaged foods for cooking, then you’ll want to know which to store in the refrigerator after opening, and which ones store well in the cupboards. The following foods don’t have to be stored in your refrigerator, as long as the box is shut tight or if you store it in an air tight container:

-Instant Potatoes
-Soup mix
-Rice mix
-Hot roll and pie crust mix
-Biscuit mix
-Brownie mix
-Powdered drink mixes

Leftover cake frosting should be refrigerated after opening. Once you bake your goodies, store your leftovers in the refrigerator.

Food storage in the refrigerator doesn’t last forever. Know how many days or weeks to store the common foods you use and try to use your groceries before they spoil.

One Response to “Refrigerate after Opening: A Guide to Food Storage”

  1. January 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm, James Volpone said:

    Bought jar of Prego. Opened it; but forgot to refrigerate. Should I throw it out?


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