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Turns Out, the Worst Place to Store Milk Is Where We’ve Been Putting It All Along

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I raid the fridge about once a month.

Mind you, we “raid” the fridge practically every night after we finally get our toddler and 9-month-old down to sleep. But that’s different — that’s fun. That’s the time when we to run to the kitchen to stuff our faces with some after-dinner snacks (and maybe even a nice glass or two of Merlot), and say things like, “This is so nice … ” while frantically checking the baby monitor every two minutes.

But, I digress. Once a month, we attack our fridge in a “let’s figure out what’s emitting that vile stench”-kinda way. The process usually goes a little something like this:

“Ew, gross, what happened to this broccoli?”

[Checks expiration date.]

“Oh, great — this milk is still good.”

[Does a quick smell check just to be sure.]

“YIKES, how long has this baked beans been hiding in here?!”

[Tries not to dry-heave.]

Afterwards, our stomachs are always in knots. Not only from the terrible food odors, but also from seeing all that good food go to waste. We then proceed to chastise ourselves for some bad adulting (yet again).

But what if it’s not totally our fault? I mean, sure, we could probably stand to clean out the fridge more often, but what if all these years, our biggest problem is how we’ve been storing our food to begin with?

It appears Good Housekeeping UK has cracked this very case with their eye-opening new article, “How to Organize Your Fridge” — and it might just revolutionize the way you look at your fridge.

Among the biggest surprises? Where to store the milk. I’m willing to bet most of us probably have the same strategy: We stick the milk carton on the inside of the fridge door for easy access. Seems practical, right? But apparently, we’ve all been doing it wrong.

Good Housekeeping reports that refrigerator door shelves are actually the warmest spot in the fridge, and goes on to advise that dairy (including eggs) be placed on the middle shelf. As for door shelves, those should be left open for natural preservatives, like condiments, jams, and juice.

That brings us to the bottom shelf — aka the coldest section of your fridge, which GH suggests using to store meat and poultry. But there’s also another reason the bottom shelf is a good idea for storing those kinds foods: “Placing raw food on the bottom shelf also minimizes the risk of cross-contamination,” the mag reports.

And as for those bottom drawers? Good news is, most of your fruits and veggies can stay enclosed in there. (Phew.) But there are a few exceptions to that rule (that might just blow your mind): Avocados, tomatoes, peaches, pears, plums, bananas, and nectarines should be stored outside the fridge — so you might want to find them a new home on your counter. These fruits are known as “gas releasers,” and, if kept in the fridge, Good Housekeeping reports they “can make some veggies spoil prematurely.” (So, that’s what has been happening to my broccoli!)

Another important thing to note? According to the FDA, you should always set your fridge temperature to 40°F (or slightly below) to ensure that food doesn’t spoil, and check the temperature on a fairly regular basis.

And when it comes to actually cleaning out the fridge … well, we could probably all stand to do that a little more often. (If for nothing else than our own sanity’s sake.)

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