Food Storage Facts for Storing Food Properly

by Gina Blitstein · 1 comment

We all know that frugality only begins in the marketplace. What you do with items you purchase once you get them home is equally important to insure they are used to your best benefit. One of the most money-wise habits in your kitchen is to store the foods you purchase so as to avoid spoilage, which would result in wasting money and time.

Food Storage Facts


  • To inhibit bacterial growth, refrigerator temperature must be 40°F or colder. Freezers should be 0°F or colder.
  • Foods remaining continuously frozen will keep indefinitely.
  • Foods requiring refrigeration, whether directly from the grocery store or left over after a meal, must be refrigerated promptly. Foods sitting at room temperature for more than two hours must be discarded due to the bacterial growth that will occur.
  • Defrost foods that take longer than two hours to thaw in the refrigerator to keep their temperature below 40°F.
  • In the case of a power failure, you may not necessarily need to throw everything in your refrigerator away. The good news is, a full freezer will keep foods frozen for about two days; a half-full freezer about one day. In fact, some foods that may have partially or even completely thawed in your freezer may be safely refrozen if they still contain ice crystals or are below 40°F. Foods in a closed, unpowered refrigerator can stay at a safe temperature up to four hours.

Shelf Storage

  • Store canned foods and other shelf-stable products in a cool, dry place, away from extremes of temperature.
  • High-acid foods, like tomatoes and other fruit, can be stored up to 18 months; low-acid foods like meat and vegetables, two to five years. Although can linings might discolor or corrode when the metal reacts with high-acid foods like tomatoes or pineapple, as long as the can isn’t damaged, the contents should be safe to eat.
  • It’s important to inspect canned goods before consuming their contents. Botulism is a rare but deadly toxin that can grow in canned foods. Never use food from containers that show possible “botulism” warning signs which, according to the USDA, include: leaking, bulging, or badly dented cans; cracked jars or jars with loose or bulging lids; canned food with a foul odor; or any container that spurts liquid when opening. If you even suspect the container, dispose of it before even tasting the contents.

Product Dating

The United States does not employ a nationwide food dating system. Food dating of some type, however, is practiced in more than 20 states.

Where food dating is enforced, you’ll generally find these dates:

  • “Sell-By” tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Buy the product before the date expires.
  • “Best if Used By (or Before)” is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • “Use-By” is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at its peak quality. This is not a safety date. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe and of good quality so long as it has been stored properly.

If a product has a “sell-by” date or no date, cook or freeze the product by the times on this USDA chart for storage times of dated food products.

You shop wisely, so continue that behavior once you get home. Use good judgment with the food you purchase: store it properly and at the proper temperature and you’ll fully reap the benefits of your frugal shopping efforts by not wasting what you’ve bought due to spoilage.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

N. Southwell March 31, 2011 at 8:30 am

Keep freezers FULL by adding plastic bottles of water….use different sizes….remove as needed when storing food. Freezer runs less when full. This is the same for your fridge. Either wrap with freezer paper or put in zip lock bags all meat trays….won’t get torn or absorb odors from freezer. Box of baking soda with small opening placed in fridge and freezer helps with odors.

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