It’s a very American mindset to stick the majority of a grocery haul in the refrigerator (you won’t find Europeans putting eggs or bread in there), and while some foods definitely require a consistently chilly atmosphere, chances are that you can utilize your space outside the fridge more than you may think.
5 healthy foods that don’t need to be refrigerated
1. nut butters
Whether your go-to is peanut, almond, or something more unexpected, Salzman and Cotter both say all nut butters can be safely stored in the pantry or on the counter. “I actually find that my nut butters don’t dry out as quickly when I store them outside the fridge,” says certified nutritionist and Nourishing Superfood Bowls author Lindsay Cotter, CN. (That said, once opened, nut butters will stay fresh twice as long in the fridge, says Allison Scheinfeld, RD, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian. But they’ll still be good for months in the pantry.)
2. non-dairy milk
If you’re stocking up on items meant to last a while, Cotter suggests buying shelf-stable non-dairy milk, which doesn’t require refrigeration the way cow’s milk does. “It lasts up to three months,” she says.
2. hearty produce
“Hearty fruits like citrus, apples, pears, and tomatoes can all be stored on the counter and are foods that don’t need to be refrigerated,” says healthy cooking expert Pamela Salzman. Ditto goes for vegetables like onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and basil. In fact, potatoes (of all types) are best stored in a dark place in the pantry.
All types of bread, including English muffins, Salzman says, will be okay on the counter. They won’t last as long as in the fridge, so only keep them out if you plan to eat them soon. You’ll know when your bread is going bad when blue mold starts to sprout up. Then, it’s time to throw it out.
There are many health benefits connected to cooking with ghee, including boosting gut health, and it can be stored right next to your olive oil—outside of the fridge, says Salzman. Storing it at room temperature makes it easier to scoop out of the jar, too.
5. non-dairy salad dressings and condiments
As long as your condiments don’t have dairy in them, Salzman says that they are fine to keep on the counter. This includes ketchup, mustard, vinaigrettes, soy sauce, and peanut sauce. Mayonnaise, on the other hand, requires refrigeration.
Besides utilizing counter space more, both Cotter and Salzman say that organizing your foods (in the fridge and out) is important, too. That way, you can better see what you have and cut down on food waste. “Organize your pantry with shelf risers for cans, turntables for spices and oils, baskets for snacks, and jars for cereal, grains, and flours,” says Cotter. After all, now is as good of a time as any to get organized.
When it comes to the fridge, Salzman recommends bringing food that needs to get used up to the front and planning your meals around those items first. “If you bought too much produce and you won’t use it before it goes bad, freeze it,” she says.
Putting these tips in place will help both with meal planning (you’ll easily see what foods you want to base your meals around) and making sure your bounty won’t go to waste. And if you did buy too much, consider donating it to others in need. Now more than ever, let’s look out for each other.
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