10 Foods You Aren’t Storing Properly

Learn tips for properly storing healthy foods.

Improper storage can ruin the flavor of healthy foods and increase the risk of spoilage. Find out if you’re storing these 10 foods incorrectly and how to make changes if you are.

1. Fresh Herbs (pictured above)

It’s never a bad idea to trim the ends and wrap fresh herbs loosely in paper towels and plastic wrap before storing in a veggie drawer. Some types of herbs like basil and parsley can also be kept in a small glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and kept on the countertop.

Beefsteak tomatoes on the vine in various colors.

Beefsteak tomatoes on the vine in various colors.

2. Tomatoes

Whatever you do, DON’T REFRIGERATE TOMATOES! Store this fresh fruit (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit) at room temperature to prevent the chill of the fridge from making them mealy and flavorless.

3. Spices

Dried ground spices like cinnamon, cumin and chili powder will lose their flavor over time, especially when exposed to light, air and heat. For this reason it’s best to keep them in a dry, dark cupboard or drawer. Hold on to them for six to 12 months (not years) and then replace with fresh ones.

Baguette and nan bread


Baguette and nan bread

Photo by: JackJelly


4. Bread

Bread can be tricky. You may find it goes stale more quickly in the fridge but is more likely to get moldy when left at room temperature, especially in hot and humid conditions. Room temperature is ideal for fresh bread, as is storing sliced loaves in the freezer; a quick run through the toaster will bring frozen slices back to life.

two fresh sardines isolated on white

Photo by: filipe b varela

filipe b varela

5. Raw Meat

Avoid keeping raw or defrosting meats on the top shelf of your fridge. If they spring a leak, raw meat juices can dribble down all over the shelves below and onto ready-to-eat foods like fruit and veggies. Instead, keep meats on the lowest shelf possible, wrapped in a plastic bag just in case there is some spillage.

garlic bulbs and clove


garlic bulbs and clove

Photo by: eyewave


6. Garlic

Like tomatoes, this pungent bulb should not be refrigerated. Store in a cool and dark place, and allow air to circulate around it.

7. Berries

Fragile berries are more likely to become mushy if you wash and then store them in the fridge. For best results, wash just before use. Learn more about selecting the perfectly ripe berry from California Strawberries.

Close-up of fresh avocados on wooden surface


Close-up of fresh avocados on wooden surface

Photo by: Jacob Wackerhausen/Thinkstock

Jacob Wackerhausen/Thinkstock

8. Avocado

Store not-yet-ripe avocados on the counter at room temp. If you’re craving some guacamole and want to speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. Once ripe, they can be moved to the fridge for two to three days. For more tips on storing cut avocado, visit the Hass Avocado Board.

Fruit - mango.


Fruit - mango.

9. Mango

Did you know that color is not an indication of ripeness for a mango? Yes, a red or green mango can be perfectly ripe and juicy. Store this fruit on the countertop at room temperature until ripe, then move to the fridge for up to five days. Get more tips and fun facts from the National Mango Board.

pouring olive oil

Photo by: IFP


10. Oil

It may be handy to store cooking oils on or next to your stove, but it’s not such a hot idea for the oil itself. Exposure to heat will turn the oil rancid and bitter at a quicker rate. Instead, opt for a cool, dark cabinet.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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