Fridge Tip #1: Check out expiration dates
The most important thing to remember when stocking a refrigerator is to check the "sell by" dates on ALL perishable items. But it is up to you to check the date.
Fridge Tip #2: Storing eggs & dairy products
The three basics in just about everyone's refrigerator are:
Eggs: Open the carton and check to make sure none of your eggs are broken. It is best to keep eggs stored in their original carton.
Milk: You get to choose between whole milk, 2%, or 1%. The numbers indicate fat content.
Butter: Butter should be kept covered or wrapped, as it does absorb odors.
Fridge Tip #3: Storing other fridge and freezer foods
Some additional (optional) refrigerator staple foods, if you like them, are:
Vegetables: A beginning cook can take advantage of the availability of frozen vegetables, many of which are fantastic. Vegetables are often taken at their most ripe and flavorful and fast frozen to preserve taste and color. It is really handy to keep some of your favorites in the freezer. For example, broccolli can be zapped in the microwave in less then five minutes. How can you go wrong?
Fruits: There are quite a few frozen fruits, like peaches, mango, blueberries and strawberries, available at the grocery store. Fast-frozen fruits work really well in smoothies. Toss some frozen blueberries, and strawberries in a blender with some yogurt or milk and you've got yourself a great snack or breakfast!
Bread: Keep a loaf of bread/bagels/English muffins in the freezer. Be sure to use it within about 4-6 weeks. You can put a slice of frozen bread directly into the toaster. It will only take a few extra seconds to toast when it's frozen.
Many foods from the cupboard, once opened, need to be put in the refrigerator. This applies to mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, and pickles. These sorts of condiments will last several months in the refrigerator.
Hormel, a food products company, has a fantastic shelf-life food chart with just about every food in existence listed. It is worth going there to check out how long food will keep in the refrigerator!
Fridge Tip #4: Know your cold and warm spots
The inside of your refrigerator does not have the same temperature everywhere. There is usually a separate bin for fruits and vegetables. These bins are generally not as cold as the main part of the refrigerator.
Neither is the storage space on the door. It is really convenient, though, to store things that are used often on the door.
Do remember foods in both the refrigerator and the freezer are (ultimately) perishable and need to be properly wrapped to make them last. When storing leftovers, they should get wrapped in plastic wrap or tin foil. Most leftovers should be eaten within two days or tossed. No point in taking chances!