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Guide to Food Storage

Created January 12, 2017

Betty Crocker is embarking on a campaign to #tastenotwaste. As a global food company, General Mills recognizes food waste is a major social, environmental, and economic challenge and is invested in change. We are continuously working to improve production processes that eliminate waste and are partnering with Feeding America to make sure uneaten food gets from stores and restaurants to people, not garbage cans. But there is one place we need help—at home, where 40% of food waste happens. The stats about consumer food waste at home might surprise you.


Guidelines For Cold Storage

We’ve come a long way from the ice box and the ice delivery man.  It seems that modern refrigerators and freezers should be able to keep foods forever—but they can't!  Below are some pointers and a time chart to help you keep food safely stored in both the refrigerator and freezer.  We recommend that you purchase a refrigerator/freezer thermometer and check it often to make sure the correct temperatures are being maintained.


  • Keep the refrigerator temperature at 40 F, or slightly lower.  Adjust the temperature to a colder setting after prolonged exposure to room temperature or when warm foods are added.  The temperature can be readjusted to the normal setting after about 8 hours.
  • Use the times given in the chart for refrigerating foods.  They may seem short but will help keep foods from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat.
  • Cover foods or close original containers tightly before refrigerating to prevent drying out or transfer of odors to or from other foods.  Store produce and strong-flavored foods in tightly covered containers or plastic bags to retain moisture.
  • Remove foods from the refrigerator just before you are ready to use them.


  • Keep freezer temperature at 0 F, or slightly lower.
  • Wrap food in moisture-proof, vapor-proof containers and materials.
  • Label and date all packages and containers.
  • Remove as much air from packages as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Use longest-stored food first.
  • Always thaw frozen meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator or use the microwave; never allow them to stand at room temperature.  Allow about 5 hours for each pound.
  • Use the times given for freezing foods to maintain best flavor and texture.  Frozen foods kept slightly longer are still safe to eat.

Helpful Tips and Special Directions

Baked Products: Cool completely before wrapping airtight for freezing.  Allow frosting to harden or freeze uncovered before packaging.

  • Breads: Refrigerate only during hot, humid weather in original packaging.  Loosen wrap and thaw frozen bread at room temperature 2 to 3 hours.
  • Cakes: Refrigerate cakes with custard or whipped cream filling or frosting.  Loosen wrap on frozen unfrosted cakes and thaw at room temperature 2 to 3 hours.  Loosen wrap on frozen frosted cakes and thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Cheesecakes: Thaw wrapped in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.
  • Cookies: Freeze delicate or frosted and decorated cookies in single layers separated by wax paper.  Thaw covered in containers at room temperature 1 to 2 hours.  Crisp-textured cookies should be removed from container to thaw.
  • Pies:Frozen unbaked fruit pies: Unwrap and carefully cut slits in the top crust.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 and bake 30 to 45 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits.  Frozen baked fruit and pecan pies: Unwrap and thaw at room temperature until completely thawed.  Or unwrap and thaw at room temperature 1 hour, then heat in 375 oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until warm.  Unwrap and thaw baked pumpkin pies in refrigerator.
Dairy Products: Check package for the freshness date and refrigerate in original containers.  Refrigeration time is for opened products.

  • Cream Cheese and Hard Cheese: If hard cheese is moldy, trim ½ inch from affected area and replace wrap each time.  Thaw frozen cheeses wrapped in refrigerator.  Use only in baked goods due to texture changes.
  • Ice Cream, Sorbet, Frozen Yogurt: Freeze in original container.  Cover surface directly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to reduce ice crystals.  For best quality, do not thaw and refreeze.
  • Whipped Cream: Freeze in small mounds on waxed paper until firm, then place in airtight container.

Eggs: To refrigerate yolks only, cover with cold water and refrigerate tightly covered.  To freeze eggs, add ? teaspoon salt or ½ teaspoon sugar for every 4 yolks or 2 whole eggs and freeze tightly covered.

Meat Products:

Check packages for the freshness dates.  Refrigerate or freeze meat in original package, as repeated handling can introduce bacteria to meat and poultry.  Over-wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap, or place in freezer bags for freezing.