How Are You Really Supposed To Store and Defrost Food?

How Are You Really Supposed To Store and Defrost Food?


This month is National Nutrition Month, and I’m all about meal prepping! Part of meal prepping is about storing your completed meals or snacks in the refrigerator, freezer, or even pantry (hello delicious trail mix!). But there are many do’s and dont’s when it comes to storing and defrosting — and following simple guidelines can help make sure to keep your food safe to eat.

Simple Storage Tips

  • First In, First Out (FIFO): When storing food in your refrigerator and freezer, a helpful tip is to label and date all of your containers. The FIFO method uses your older items first to minimize food spoilage.
  • Store food on the correct shelves: Store raw foods such as meat and eggs on the bottom of the refrigerator and ready to eat items on top of them in case there is any drippage. This will help prevent cross-contamination and minimize illness in your home.
  • Know the shelf-life of food: The refrigerator is meant for short-term storage. As such, you need to be conscious about how long foods, especially meat and poultry, are stored in your fridge. Here are some general guidelines.


Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb and Pork

  • Steaks, chops, and roasts: 3-5 days


Fresh Poultry

  • Whole chicken or turkey: 1-2 days
  • Chicken or turkey parts: 1-2 days


Fish and Shellfish

  • Lean or fatty fish: 1-2 days
  • Smoked fish: 14 days
  • Fresh shrimp or scallops: 1-2 days
  • Canned seafood: 3-4 days after opening


For more information and additional foods, check out the FDAs Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart.

Safe Ways To Defrost

I have seen many people defrost on the counter top. This is especially hazardous as the bacteria thrive at your kitchen temperature and can multiply in the billions– which is plenty to get you sick even after cooking. You can safely defrost your meal prep ingredients or frozen pre-boxed meals in the refrigerator overnight. If it is still a bit frozen, then raw meat and chicken can continue to defrost under cool, running water or even in the microwave. As for meal prepped meals, you can defrost them in the microwave or if you do place them overnight in your fridge and they aren’t 100% defrosted, then finish defrosting them in the microwave.

When it comes to food safety, the most important saying to live by is: When in doubt, toss it out! So always keep that in mind when meal prepping. It’s better to be safe, then sorry.


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