Post #14: Seven ways to save money on groceries after you’ve bought them

It’s all about location, location, location: knowing the proper places to store food in your fridge can prevent illnesses, keep food fresh longer and even save you money. According to the U.S. Health Department, every year Americans throw away approximately 25 percent of the food they buy due to spoilage.

The fundamental purpose for refrigerators is to keep our food cold. Simply put, cold temperatures help keep food fresh by slowing the growth rate of bacteria, which all foods contain. If bacteria have moisture, time and the right temperatures, they will grow and multiply, causing your food to spoil.

The optimal safe handling temperature for food is between 35 and 38 degrees F. Conversely, the “danger zone” for bacteria growth is between 40 and 140 degrees F. In those temperatures, bacteria can double in number in just twenty minutes.

The temperatures in most fridges varies between 35 and 59 degrees F, with the warmest parts being inside the door and on the top shelf, and the coolest part being the shelf at the bottom, right above the crisper drawers. Both the inside of the door and the top shelf can reach temperatures as high as 59 degrees F, making them unsafe for most perishable products.

Here are seven ways to help keep your food fresh and keep bacteria at bay:

Eggs

First off, leave eggs in their carton. Eggshells are porous, allowing air and odors to easily penetrate and become trapped.

Secondly, and most importantly, never store eggs inside your refrigerator door. The temperature fluctuates every time the door is opened, making it the warmest spot in the fridge. Keep eggs in the middle shelf, near the back.

Milk

Store milk and other perishable dairy items in the main body of the fridge, as close towards the middle as possible.

Meat

Leave any raw meat, poultry or fish inside their original packaging, and check to make sure there aren’t any rips or tears in the plastic to avoid cross contamination. Keep them on the bottom shelf for a maximum of three days and don’t remove until right before use. Sandwich meats should also remain in original packaging and be kept on the same shelf as raw meat.

Fruits and vegetables

Store fruits and vegetables in separate compartments near the bottom of the fridge. Some fruits release ethylene gas which accelerates vegetable deterioration.

Also, don’t wash fruits and vegetables before storing in the fridge as bacteria love moisture. Wash only right before consumption.

Cheeses, butter and margarine

Store these in the “cheese” or “dairy” drawer in the middle of your fridge. This drawer has a higher temperature than the body of the fridge and is therefore slightly humid, making it the perfect home for cheeses, butter and other spreads. It will keep them cold without drying them out.

Condiments

All condiments like mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, barbeque sauce, salsa, etc., may be stored inside the door of the fridge. These foods can generally stand higher temperatures without spoiling.

Lastly, be sure not to crowd or overfill the shelves in your fridge, which can prevent cold air from circulating properly.

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