When you bring home food from the supermarket, it’s likely you’ll put it wherever there’s free space on the shelves. But how you store your groceries makes a big difference in how fresh they stay. Here’s what you can do to keep your food safer, longer:

TOP SHELF

  • DAIRY: Put dairy on the top shelf, or take the next healthy step and pour milk out of the store-bought container into an opaque glass bottle to avoid letting it absorb any toxins from the plastic jug or wax-lined paper carton. Be sure to use it all within 5-7 days. Cheese and yogurt should join milk on this shelf.
  • EGGS: Take them out of the carton (which harbors germs) and place them into an open ceramic egg tray. Properly stored, eggs will keep up to 3 weeks.
  • BEVERAGES: Remember to close these tightly to keep germs out, and flavor and nutrients in.

MIDDLE SHELF

  • COOKED FOOD: Whether you’re planning ahead for tomorrow’s party or packing away leftovers from tonight’s dinner, all cooked food requires its own space away from raw produce, meat, or dairy. Keep it in tightly sealed glass containers and be sure to write the date on things that you plan to keep several days, so you can tell when it’s time to part ways. When in doubt, throw it out!

BOTTOM SHELF

  • MEAT: Take raw meat out of the packaging and place it in a sealable glass container. Most cuts of meat keep for 3-5 days, but ground meat should only be kept for 24 hours before using.
  • POULTRY: Individual portions of chicken can be placed in zip-top plastic bags or glass containers and sealed tightly. Keep them in the fridge for 1-2 days at most.
  • FISH: Remove the wrapping and place portioned fish in sealable glass containers. Raw fish is only good for about 2 days in the refrigerator, so be sure you buy it closest to the time you’ll be cooking it.

DRAWERS

  • PRODUCE: Take fruits and veggies out of the plastic bags first, before putting them in a drawer. Don’t wash them until you need to use them – excess water will make them spoil faster.

FREEZER

  • NUTS: Nuts should be kept in the freezer to protect the natural oils from spoiling.
  • MEAT, POULTRY, AND FISHInvest in a vacuum sealer to keep your proteins perfectly portioned and waiting for your next meal. Meat can be frozen for about 6 months, but ground meat should be in the freezer for 4 months or less. Poultry can stay in the freezer for up to 9 months. Fish will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.