Refrigerated Storage
Resources > Tips > Refrigerated Storage

Are you a Smart Kitchen™ Chef?

Try it FREE or take a TOUR to explore Smart Kitchen!
+ -


Other than those foods suggested for dry storage, all perishable foods, especially prepared, ready-to-eat items, should be refrigerated or frozen to protect them from spoilage and contamination by keeping them below The Food Danger Zone’s lowest temperature of 40° F (4° C).

Refrigerate foods you expect to use shortly. Freeze foods that you won’t be using for a while. All refrigerated items should be covered and held in non-absorbent containers like Glassware or Tupperware.

In most home kitchens, refrigeration, holding foods at temperatures ranging from 40° F to 35° F (4° C to 2° C), is accomplished by a refrigerator though on the commercial side the options multiply and there are walk-ins, reach-ins, refrigerated display cases, refrigerated counters and even refrigerated tables. All of the above should Maintain Temperature below 40° F (4° C). They should also all be periodically cleaned (including the interior walls & the interior floors), sanitized & organized.

There are a few simple guidelines about the proper use of refrigeration.

How Foods Should Be Refrigerated

The general concepts for how foods should be refrigerated are Avoid Cross Contamination in the RefrigeratorGet Foods Out of The Food Danger Zone Quickly & Maintain Temperature.

How Refrigerators should be Organized

The average U.S. family refrigerator has between 18 & 22 cubic feet (.50 and .63 cubic meters) of refrigerated storage space. Organization is the best way to maximize the space for optimal cooling, maximum storage and Avoiding Cross Contamination in the Refrigerator..

Within the fridge some foods have optimal temperatures where they keep fresher longer. We won’t cover Mapping Your Refrigerator until the Advanced Level, but if you have mapped your refrigerator you can try to hold your foods in the spots with the Appropriate Refrigerated Temperatures for Various Foods, as long as you don’t increase your risks of cross contamination by doing so. In general the following tips should be applied to your refrigerator organization.

  • Follow handling recommendations on the product
  • Keep meat and poultry in its package until just before use
  • Its best when air can circulate around all sides of refrigerated items.
  • Do not overcrowd items in the refrigerator. Air must get around them to keep them cool.
  • Though it applies most to walk in refrigerators, at home still keep all food off the refrigerator floor.
  • Within the refrigerator store raw and cooked foods separately.
  • Ready-to-eat foods should go on the highest shelf. 

Proper Uses of the Refrigerator

The proper use of the refrigerator is to keep your foods out of The Food Danger Zone. Is your refrigeration adequate to handle all of your perishable foods? Do you make your purchases of perishable foods to suit your available refrigerated storage space? If not the two should be brought into alignment. We recommend you reorganize your purchasing around using your refrigerator to:

  • Hold Cool Perishable Foods
  • Thaw Frozen Foods
  • Hold Marinating Foods