The right way to store leftovers (and other food storage fixes)

These five refrigeration mistakes can spoil your groceries (not to mention dinner) and even cause food poisoning. Here's how to keep everything fresh and tasty.

Leftovers have to cool it-and pronto! But stored in large amounts in a big pot, they can't chill fast enough to prevent dangerous amounts of bacteria from developing, according to Christine Bruhn, a food-safety researcher at the University of California, Davis.
Make it right Transfer extras to containers that are a max of 3 inches deep. Label them, and pop them into the fridge to begin cooling-fast.

We love fruits and veggies together in salads, but in the fridge? No way! Most fruits release a gas that rots lettuce and other greens.
Make it right Put fruits and veggies in separate crisper drawers-and by the way, smelly deli items should go in their own drawer, too, says Every Day test kitchen director Diana Sturgis.

Eggshells are porous, so when you store eggs out of the carton, moisture evaporates more quickly through the shells and causes eggs to lose freshness, says Bruhn.
Make it right Store eggs in their carton on a nice cold shelf -brrr!-rather than in the door.


Good-quality (unprocessed) cheese needs to have air circulating around it, and plastic wrap prevents this, leading to a greasy surface and mold, says Jennifer Karl, a dietitian with the National Dairy Council.
Make it right Wrap with waxed paper; place in an opened plastic bag if you're worried about the cheese drying out.

Home cooks open and close the fridge dozens of times a day, so milk in the door is asking for trouble! Open the door, and warm air hits the milk; shut the door, and it gets cold again. These ups and downs boost bacterial growth and sour the milk, Karl says.
Make it right Keep milk at a steady temperature by moving it to the back of the fridge, near the cold-air vents next to either the top or the bottom shelf.

By Teresa Dumain | Photography by Tina Rupp

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