The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

An Essential Food Storage Guide

How to Store and Preserve Everything in Your Kitchen

Minimizing food waste is a step in the right direction we can all take. Whether it's best practices for keeping individual ingredients fresher for longer or the easiest way to store that big pot of chili you made for future dinners, this guide will keep you informed and safe.

Our mission here at The Spruce Eats is to help our readers cook nourishing and delicious meals all the time, especially when things are uncertain. Below you will find a comprehensive list of resources to help you effectively store and preserve your food.

Easy Fruit Salad ingredients in bowls


Every fruit is unique in its needs, especially as it pertains to the best environment for preserving freshness. Some fruits release a natural gas called Ethylene that speeds up the ripening process, which can serve as an advantage to ripen avocados quickly while spoiling other items before you can take the first bite. Here, we breakdown what goes in the crisper, what to keep on the countertop, and how to hold anything pre-cut.

How to thaw meat quickly

Meat & Poultry

How and where to store your meat and poultry depends on a handful of things: the cut, raw or cooked, and freshness. Meat should always be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. The rapid growth of bacteria begins at about 50 F.

New Orleans' Drago's grilled oysters on a bed of salt

The Spruce/Maxwell Cozzi

Fish & Seafood

One might argue that seafood is the biggest drama queen of them all. Proper storage is essential to reduce food-borne illness, ensure quality, and prevent that pungent odor of days-old fish from permeating your home. Most importantly, make sure to wash fish under cold water, dry it, and clean it with paper towels before refrigerating.

Stored Food in Refrigerator

 The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


There's no single way to store all vegetables. For example, fresh delicate greens can't be handled the same as hearty root vegetables. Learn which need a cool, dry environment like a kitchen cupboard and which thrive in a dampened paper towel in the fridge.


The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


Never buy herbs to just let them die again. Even a single day in the fridge can turn the freshest of herbs into wilted slime. Once you identify with which veggies you are working, then you can take the proper course of action. The key: you want your fresh herbs slightly damp, but not soaking wet.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Airtight Food Storage Container


Pantry Staples

Open your pantry and you'll most often find a bottomless well of canned beans, dried pasta, sauces, and more. So many things we often forget what exactly we house in these culinary caverns. Learn how long these essential ingredients last (spoiler alert: it's not forever), when it's time to replace them, and what shelf to put what.

Refrigerator containers with labels.

Cooked Foods

Do you need to cool down leftovers fully before wrapping and storing them? Is storing in an airtight container best? Should you wrap them in plastic or aluminum? These are the questions we most often see when it comes to the food safety of leftovers. Place cooked foods in a clear, stackable container on the top shelf for the best chance of survival.

Chalka (Polish Egg-Twist Bread)

Baked Goods

There's nothing quite like freshly baked bread and pastries. But, believe it or not, it is possible to preserve their integrity so you can enjoy days afterward. The refrigerator can dry out many baked goods, but certain items require chilling if they contain cream fillings or have a high moisture content.

Homemade Pumpkin Liqueur


Drinks are the least fussy of kitchen staples. You'll most likely reach for soft drinks, juice, and milk the most, so keep them where you can grab quickly to minimize fridge door opening time and keep temperatures cooler. Liquor should live in a cool location (whether that's a fridge or cabinet) because warm temperatures can cause it to oxidize, changing the flavor. Similarly, warmth degrades the quality of beer, wine, and soda so keep out of the sunlight to maintain freshness.