Food Storage Tips

Jump to: Fridge and FreezerPantry Items - Fruit and Vegetables - Meat and Seafood 

Food Storage Tips

Storing food correctly will keep it fresher for longer, saving you time and money. 

Date labels
  • Use by dates indicate when a product may no longer be safe to eat. You should not eat, cook, or freeze it after the date displayed, even if it looks or smells fine
  • Best before dates are an indication of quality rather than safety. You can still eat food after its best before date, but its flavour and texture may not be as good as before the date
  • Be sure to label containers correctly and write the date on food items you put in the fridge or freezer.
Storage hacks
  • Airtight containers and jars with snug-fitting lids are perfect for storing items in the pantry, fridge or freezer. Using the right size is essential as it reduces oxygen in the container
  • Buy containers with the same sized base so you can stack them 
  • Repurpose empty jars or coffee containers 
  • Divide bulk food into reasonable portions
  • Freeze leftovers in portioned sizes to reheat and eat later 
  • Lunchboxes, lunch bags and bento boxes are a great way to keep your food fresh at work or school
  • Tupperware, beeswax wraps and food pouches are excellent ways to store snacks when you’re out
  • Reusable water bottles, coffee cups and thermoses are great environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use items.

Fridge and Freezer

Kitchen appliances and containers can help you store your food correctly and keep it fresher for longer.

The fridge
  • Make sure the temperature is between three and four degrees celsius and the door seals are working
  • Wait for food to stop steaming before putting it away so your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard
  • Keep food covered or stored in sealed containers to keep it fresher for longer
  • Store soft cheeses like camembert in wax paper or baking paper
  • Hard cheeses like cheddar or parmesan can be stored in airtight containers
  • Store eggs in their original carton  
  • Yoghurt is best eaten within the first ten days but can last up to six weeks
  • Sour cream will stay fresh unopened for up to one month in the fridge However, it is best used within a few days of purchase once opened.
The freezer
  • A freezer works like a ‘pause’ function. The quicker food is frozen, the faster the natural deterioration process stops
  • Make sure the temperature is set to minus eighteen degrees celsius and the door seals are working
  • Freeze food in sealed containers, wrap it in foil or use reusable zip lock bags to avoid freezer burn and contamination
  • Label containers with the date and store food in single or family size portions, so you only need to defrost what you need.

Pantry Items

Use the correct storage methods to keep  your pantry items fresh and safe to eat.

Cereals, pasta and rice 
  • Cereals, pasta and rice should be kept in good quality airtight containers in the pantry. If you do not have suitable containers, tightly reseal the original packaging
  • Cooked pasta should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge within one hour of cooking and eaten within two days
  • Cooked rice should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge within one hour of cooking and eaten within three days.
  • Keep bread at room temperature in its wrapper or an airtight container and consume within two days
  • Storing bread in the fridge is not recommended as it can become stale faster
  • Bread can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.
Other pantry items
  • Use airtight containers for storing flour, sugar, grains and nuts
  • Never add new supplies to the old — finish whatever is in the container before adding more
  • Store jam, long-life milks, sauces and cans in the pantry until opened and then store in the fridge
  • Refer to the use by date on the packet which advises how long you can store the item
  • Keep pantry items away from direct sunlight and heat sources as they’ll deteriorate more quickly.  

Fruit and Vegetables

Buy locally grown fruit and vegetables in season, or have a go at growing your own, to keep them fresher for longer and avoid food waste.

  • If in doubt about whether a fruit should go in the fridge, think about the climate that it was grown in
  • Most fruit should be kept in the fridge once it is ripe or cut
  • Store your apples in the fridge as they soften ten times faster at room temperature
  • Store berries in the fridge and wash gently before eating
  • Citrus fruit will keep for a couple of days at room temperature but will last longer in the fridge
  • Apricots, avocados, kiwifruit, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag then refrigerated for longer storage
  • Keep bananas out of the fridge in a cool, dry area. 
  • Store vegetables in the same way as where you bought them i.e. fridge vs room temperature
  • Potatoes, onions and garlic should be kept at room temperature in a well-ventilated area  
  • Avoid washing vegetables before you store them in the fridge — wait until you’re ready to use them 
  • Once cut or peeled most vegetables are best kept in the fridge crisper  
  • Keep cut carrots, celery and capsicums in a container of water in your fridge so they won’t dry out 
  • Avoid leaving cut or peeled vegetables at room temperature for more than two hours
  • Some vegetables sweat moisture and this causes faster deterioration. Absorb this moisture by placing one or two paper towels on the top and/or bottom of the airtight containers the food is stored in 
  • Many vegetables will come back to life if left in a bowl of very cold water for a while.

Meat and Seafood

Ensure your meat and seafood is stored and prepared correctly to keep it fresh and safe to eat.

Raw meat
  • Refrigerate raw meat and poultry promptly after purchase
  • Store it in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge to prevent it contaminating other food
  • Keep it refrigerated until it’s ready to be cooked
  • If you know it won’t be used within two days of purchase it’s better to freeze it straight away.
Cooked meat and poultry
  • Meat and poultry must be refrigerated as soon as possible after cooking 
  • Never leave cooked meat at room temperature for longer than two hours
  • Place hot meat in your fridge uncovered until it cools then cover.
Delicatessen meat 
  • Delicatessen meats must be stored in the fridge and will keep for four to five days after purchase
  • Pre-packaged delicatessen items can be stored until the use by date as long as they remain properly sealed.
  • Cooked or uncooked fresh seafood should be wrapped and kept for one to two days in the coldest part of the fridge away from other produce items
  • If freezing fish, clean and prepare it as if you were going to eat it and freeze as fillets. You can freeze a whole clean fish if you want to cook and serve it whole. Make sure you label and date the fish.
  • Refrigerate seafood as soon as possible after cooking.