How to Keep Food Fresh Longer: Sustainable Food Management

June 19, 2024 by Kenmore

fresh product farmers market
© Alexander Raths / Adobe Stock

It’s okay to admit, because we’ve all done it before. You see something fresh, delicious and totally irresistible at the grocery store, and you decide to bring it home. Where it sits in the fridge. And sits. And it sits some more. Fast-forward to two or three weeks later, and you pull it out of the drawer and say… ew, what WAS this? And wham… into the trash it goes!

It’s a little bit heartbreaking for a few reasons. First off, it’s a waste of your precious food-budget dollars! Secondly, you’ve deprived yourself (and your family) of something fresh, delicious, and wholesome at mealtime. But mostly, it just feels wrong… because that spoilage represents not only a waste of Mother Nature’s bounty, but also the resources of the farmers, truckers, distributors and grocers who brought it to you.

If you’re trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, wasting food resources hits you like a double-whammy! But you can avoid this type of food waste by practicing some of the basic principles of food management at home and making them a part of your everyday routine.

Organize with Purpose

Let’s kick things off with a nod to organization, but with a sustainable twist. It’s a good idea to invest in reusable containers made from eco-friendly materials like glass or stainless steel. Not only do they keep your fridge and pantry looking Instagram-worthy, but they also reduce your reliance on single-use plastics. A classic win-win!

how to keep food fresh longer

How Long Will It Keep?

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a wealth of information on how long you can expect specific food types to last in your refrigerator, or in the freezer. Their Cold Food Storage Chart is a bit too much to post here, but it’s well worth printing out and keeping handy in a kitchen drawer for easy reference.

Here are just a few notable examples from their chart (visit their site for the most up to date information):

FoodTypeFridge (40°F or below)Freezer
SaladsEgg, tuna, chicken, macaroni, ham3 to 4 daysDoes not freeze well
Lunch meatUnopened package2 weeks1 to 2 months
Ground meatsGround beef, poultry, pork, lamb1 to 2 days3 or 4 months
SteakIncludes chops & roasts3 to 5 days4 to 12 months
Fresh poultryChicken or turkey parts1 to 2 days12 months
EggsRaw eggs in shell3 to 5 weeksDoes not freeze well
FishLean fish like cod, flounder, halibut1 to 3 days6 to 8 months
LeftoversCooked meat or poultry3 to 4 days2 to 6 months
LeftoversPizza3 to 4 days1 to 2 months
Always visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Website for the most up to date information.

An even more comprehensive resource is their online FoodKeeper App, with handy storage guidelines covering hundreds of food items.

Chill Out (Mindfully)

Refrigerator temperature control is key to keeping your food fresh, but it’s also an opportunity to save energy. Set your fridge within the optimal temperature range (35°F to 40°F for fresh foods; right at or near 0°F for the freezer), and give your energy bill a break. And while you’re at it, check the seals on your fridge door to ensure no energy-wasting chill is escaping!

Humidity Controlled Freshness

Some refrigerators, like Kenmore’s latest models, include crisper drawers that allow you to adjust the moisture level of the air inside to ensure optimal conditions for different types of produce, keeping fruits and veggies fresher for longer.

Generally speaking, low-humidity settings are best for fruits like pears, apples, melons and pitted fruits like peaches. High-humidity settings are ideal for thin-skinned vegetables that are prone to wilting, including broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce and leafy greens.

Wrap it Up—Sustainably

how to keep food fresh longer
© frimufilms / Adobe Stock

We’re not talking about hip-hop moves here (though feel free to bust a move while cooking). We’re talking about the magical art of wrapping your food. Whether it’s leftover lasagna or a half-eaten avocado, wrapping it up tight is key to keeping it fresh.

Say goodbye to plastic wrap and hello to sustainable alternatives! Beeswax wraps are a fantastic option—they’re reusable, compostable, and oh-so-charming. Plus, they come in fun patterns that’ll make your leftovers feel like they’re attending a party.

First In, First Out

We’re not talking about a line at the grocery store. is the golden rule of food management. Basically, it means using up the oldest food first before diving into the shiny new groceries. This not only reduces food waste but also ensures you’re always eating fresh. Plus, like those cooking competition shows on TV, it can be a fun culinary challenge to see what creative meals you can whip up with those random ingredients in the back of your fridge.

Love Thy Leftovers

© cherylvb/ Adobe Stock

Leftovers often get a bad rap, but we’re here to change that narrative. Embrace the beauty of batch cooking and leftovers will become your new BFF!

For example, cook up a big pot of chili or a hearty casserole on Sunday, and you’ve got lunches for the first half of the week worked out. Just make sure to store them in airtight containers to keep them tasting fresh. Bonus points for labeling and dating them, so you know exactly what’s up with each container and never lose track.

Freeze with Finesse

Repeat after us: the freezer is not just for ice cream (although, let’s be real, it’s pretty great for that too). It’s a treasure trove of food preservation possibilities! From batch-cooked meals to surplus veggies, your freezer can handle it all. Just make sure to properly wrap and label everything to avoid freezer burn and forgotten leftovers. Pro tip: invest in some freezer-safe containers for extra organization points.

Choose Wisely at the Store

© Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock

When you’re stocking up on groceries, make sustainable choices wherever possible. Go for locally sourced, seasonal produce to reduce your carbon footprint. And don’t forget your reusable bags—those flimsy plastic ones are so last-decade!

Love Your Ugly Produce

Let’s talk about the unsung heroes of the produce aisle: the misfits, the oddballs, the slightly imperfect fruits and veggies. Embrace them with open arms! They may not be magazine-cover-perfect, but they taste just as delicious and help reduce food waste.

Compost Like a Champ

© Electric Egg Ltd./ Adobe Stock

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about composting. Turn those food scraps into nutrient-rich gold for your garden. Whether you have a backyard compost bin or opt for a countertop composter, every banana peel and coffee ground counts towards a greener planet.

Smart Choices, Every Day: How to Keep Food Fresh Longer

Sustainable food management isn’t just about keeping your meals fresh—it’s about making choices that benefit you, your family, your community, and the planet. With a little organization, mindful temperature control, and a whole lot of love for leftovers, you can transform your kitchen into a sustainability haven. So let’s raise a glass (or a reusable water bottle) to greener kitchens and fresher meals!


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about sustainable food management.

What is sustainable food management?

In the context of home food storage, it’s the practice of maximizing the freshness of your household foods and extending its viability to help you reduce waste and get the most from your grocery budget. Adding a few mindful practices to your everyday routine can help extend the life of your favorite foods and enhance your sustainable lifestyle.

How long do most fresh foods last in the refrigerator?

The average lifespan of various foods can differ dramatically in the fresh-food area of your fridge, from a couple of days to a few weeks. It’s a good idea to use a handy freshness chart or consult an online resource to make sure you are using your foods at the peak of their freshness, because fresher is always better.

How does smart food management help to maintain a green, sustainable home environment?

Growing and harvesting foods, transporting them to distribution centers, and stocking them at your local grocery all require consumable resources, like fertilizer, fuel, packaging, etc. If you buy fresh food and allow it to expire, it’s not only a waste of your food dollars but also a waste of precious resources at every step of the way. Bottom line: eating fresh is simply more efficient, better for you, and better for the world.


The Kenmore brand represents 100 years of trusted performance, backed by exclusive features and innovations that no other brand can bring to the table. We’re always evolving to ensure day-to-day tasks are taken care of with faster cooking, better cleaning and more living throughout the home.