The Great Debate: To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate?

We spend tons of money on food at the grocery store each year- if you shop organic, this amount is probably tripled! If you’re like me, you probably end up buying way more than you use (wasteful, I know! Compost those extras, give them to your backyard chickens!). The obvious answer is to buy less, waste less, each week. This is true, but how can we ensure that the food we are buying is given a fair chance to be eaten? How can we extend the “shelf life” of our foods while still buying fresh, organic foods? Knowing where to store your food when you bring it home is a great start!

Each week after the grocery shopping has commenced, the dreaded debate begins; which foods actually belong in the refrigerator? It’s a constant struggle between fridge and pantry and I think it’s about time for us to settle this, once and for all! I did a little research into the good, the bad and the ugly of refrigerating foods and here were my findings.


There are so many opinions and wives’ tales regarding the storage of butter. Because butter is made from pasteurized milk it is, technically, less likely to grow bacteria. With that being said, unless you plan on eating or using it within 1-2 days, it is recommended you stick it in the fridge!


Bread can be stored in the fridge, but keeping it there tends to reduce the flavor and consistency. Refrigeration can cause breads to go stale quicker. Instead, keep roughly 4 (consecutive) days’ worth in the pantry and freeze the rest!


Chilling can reduce the risk of salmonella and other bacteria from growing inside eggs. Fresh eggs (which are not treated with chemicals or washing agents) can be left out a little longer than store-bought eggs, but your best bet is still to get ’em in the fridge sooner than later.


No need to refrigerate onions, in fact, keeping them in the fridge can make them mushy and moldy. Onions kept in a breathable bag (like the one you’d purchase them in at the store) can last weeks without refrigeration!


Like onions, garlic needs no refrigeration! Loose garlic, stored at room temperature, can last two months!


This one is always a hot topic in my house- where do the tomatoes go? Refrigerating tomatoes can cause them to mush, mold and get icky quick! Instead, keep them on the counter, in a paper bag if they need to ripen, and eat them within 3 days of ripening. (Hate to say, I told you so, hubs!)


Naturally cool, dark places are perfect for potato storage, but keep them away from the fridge. Storing potatoes in the fridge will break down the potato’s starches into sugars, making them super sweet and not so appealing. Kept in a perforated bag and stored at temperatures around 50 degrees, potatoes can last months! (Just check on them periodically.)

So, there you have it, the (un)official breakdown of where to store your groceries! Hopefully we can reduce unnecessary food waste and save some money in the process- maybe even solve a few at-home debates while we’re at it! Remember, the best way to reduce waste at home is to be smart with your buying choices. It’s easier said than done but one good decision leads to many more!


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