Tips for Storing Food Safely During the Holidays

Consumer Reports has some tips to maximize the efficiency of your fridge and keep your food safe

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When the holiday season hits, it’s all too easy to let food pile up and take over your fridge.

Between what’s already in there and all those extra ingredients for holiday dishes -- a thawing turkey or ham, and then the leftovers -- it’s a recipe for disaster! Consumer Reports shows you how to keep your food safe and your fridge organized for the holidays.

First and foremost is preparation. Close to the big day, adjust your shelves to accommodate the foods you’ll need to store.

On the top shelf, you’ll want to keep ready-to-eat food. Things like prepped salads, desserts and anything you don’t want to come into contact with food on the other shelves are what you'll want to keep in mind for this area.

The middle shelf is your prepared-dish zone, basically for any food that’s prepped, covered and ready to be heated.

Place a thawing turkey, ham or any other raw meats on the bottom shelf. This prevents them from dripping or getting into your already prepared foods.

And save the less-perishable items like relishes and cranberry sauce for the side shelves.

What about all of those inevitable leftovers? CR has a strategy for those, too. Break down the leftovers into meal-sized portions and store them in shallow, covered containers. And plan to freeze anything you won’t eat in three to four days.

To preserve freshness and the quality of food, you really want to keep things airtight, so use products dedicated for that, like freezer bags.

CR says if you find yourself short on fridge space, use a cooler for some last-minute storage. In very cold areas, a cooler outside your home can help keep even perishables fresh. In warmer climates, use it for drinks to leave more room in the fridge for other holiday meal items.

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