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How a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Stocks Their Fridge

Ever wondered how a dietitian stocks their refrigerator? Now is your chance to get a peek inside the kitchen of the experts. Learn the best tricks to keep your produce fresher longer and the order to use your produce to make sure you get to it all. 

Check out this chart for answers on where dietitians store their Michigan produce for best results. Some of them might surprise you! 

Keep these items in a dry cabinet or pantry (separated, so their smells don’t migrate):

  • Onions
  • Winter Squash
  • Garlic
  • Peaches
  • Avocado
  • Watermelon
  • Tomato
  • Nectarine
  • Bananas

These items should be refrigerated:

  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Kiwi
  • Apricots
  • Honeydew
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber

For the rest of the produce in the refrigerator, dietitians keep certain foods separate depending on if they make ethylene gas. Ethylene is a gas omitted from some fruits and vegetables that causes ripening to quicken. While the gas can be a good thing for some produce, it can cause spoilage of others to happen prematurely. Here is an easy reference list for foods to keep in separate crisper drawers:

Gas producers:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Plums
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries

Gas sensitive:

  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries

Ethylene gas isn’t the only threat to the longevity of your produce. Another reason fruits and vegetables might go bad quickly is excess moisture. Always put your produce away dry, and don’t wash it until you’re ready to prepare it. You might even consider lining your crisper drawers with a reusable cloth to soak up any moisture in your refrigerator. 

Beyond storage principles, dietitians also know the order to use food. Dietitians recommend that uncooked poultry, liver, ground beef, and sausage be used within two days from purchase. This means that when you are grocery shopping, you will want to have meals planned for the following days to utilize these ingredients first. If you can’t, be sure to move them to the freezer.  Meats like steaks, bacon, and pepperoni can last slightly longer and could be used later in the week. For dairy, utilize soft cheeses within two weeks such as ricotta, cottage cheese, and cream cheeses. The length of time fruits and vegetables last varies greatly. Tomatoes and berries of all types tend to go bad the quickest while citrus fruits can last up to a month in the refrigerator. 

Before bringing new produce into their kitchen, dietitians take inventory of what they have first and make sure all foods are in their proper drawers and shelves. When putting new foods away, items that last longest are given homes in the back of the refrigerator, while more perishable items like berries are displayed near the front. Avoid overbuying, so that you can see all of the fresh options in your refrigerator. 

Ultimately, dietitians know how easy it is to avoid letting fresh fruits and vegetables go to waste. Set yourself up for success by following these guidelines to making the most of your local fruits and vegetables. 

Article written by Heidi Hudd, Grand Valley State University Graduate Student in Clinical Dietetics

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