July 21, 2012— -- So you went out of your way to load up on fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer's market only to find that three days later, it's all gone bad. Simple solutions can prevent this unnecessary waste in the first place, though.
Buy a Fridge Thermometer
Food must be kept between 35 and 40 degrees to stay fresh, says Patricia Kendall, PhD, RD, a professor of food science and nutrition at Colorado State University. But most fridges just have a dial, and what "cold" and "coldest" mean can vary from fridge to fridge. Try one that attaches to the inside of a wall or sits on a shelf (we like OXO Good Grips Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer; $13, amazon.com).
An easy way to keep track of your food is to place a label on the container stating the date you opened it.
Organize Your Fridge from Top to Bottom
Don't store food on top of the fridge—it's too warm. Keep meat on the bottom shelf where the temperature is coldest. Keep milk as low as it will fit, not in the doors: It's not cold enough there. Keep apples in a bottom crisper by themselves, as they give off a natural gas called ethylene that can wilt, spot, or rot other food. Other veggies can share the remaining crisper to keep in water vapor for leafy veggies that lose moisture fast.
Freeze Your Food
It's hard to use up all the leftovers from a big dinner but if handled correctly, cooked foods such as casseroles and sauces can last for up to 4 days. Meat and cold foods like salad, which spoil faster, usually keep for only 3 days. If you're not going to eat food by then, freeze it instead.
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