What's in your fridge?
February 21, 2006 11:10 AM   Subscribe

What sorts of long-lasting food do you stock in your refridgerator?

My fridge is completely empty. I used to have mustard, relish, and mayo, which generally last a long time, but there was never anything that I could truly eat right out of the fridge.

I'm looking for food that I can leave in there for a long time. Food that can be quickly heated for guests is always good too.
posted by jacobw to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Cheese with a rind
posted by Pollomacho at 11:12 AM on February 21, 2006

Any kind of wet food that was well-boiled before you put it away will keep nearly indefinitely. I'm thinking about stuff like stews and curries.

Some types of pickles (not the real/fresh kind) will keep for a long time.

Cheese never goes bad. Store it properly (so it neither dessicates nor completely molds over) and you'll always have available food.

I like to keep cabbage because it's versatile and will last a long time in the fridge.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:15 AM on February 21, 2006

How long is a long time? I tend to be really lazy with buying groceries (keep in mind, I'm vegetarian) so I stock these sorts of things:

miso paste
lots of dry pasta and instant rices
tofu/seitan (some frozen, some in the fridge)
pasta sauce
frozen meatballs
packaged yakisoba noodles in the fridge

then at any point in time I can make pasta, macaroni and cheese, miso soup, various tofu/seitan/rice dishes, yakisoba with seitan, etc. The major drawback is that I haven't found any fresh vegetables/fruits that last for very long, so if you want veggies you should stock up on frozen.
posted by booknerd at 11:20 AM on February 21, 2006

Uh, cooked food, like stew or curry, only keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge.
posted by acoutu at 11:23 AM on February 21, 2006

Any kind of wet food that was well-boiled before you put it away will keep nearly indefinitely.

acoutu's right: more than 3 days in the fridge and you're really pressing your luck. Freezing it, however, is a different story -- I freeze chili, stew, ratatouille, etc. all the time, and they reheat easily.
posted by scody at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2006

I have recently moved out: I have pickles, soy milk (which lasts longer than regular milk. I also recommend lil' smokies for guests, they last long (their mini hot dogs that taste great). Shredded cheese is also good last relatively long and it is great for guests. Hotdogs, frozen chicken, there are plenty of frozen food that can be quickly microwaved and used.
posted by Gabe014 at 11:36 AM on February 21, 2006

Eggs last a very long time.
posted by smackfu at 11:39 AM on February 21, 2006

Organic carrots last several weeks.
posted by scratch at 11:41 AM on February 21, 2006

cooked food, like stew or curry, only keeps for 2-3 days


If you hold a mixture at 100 °C for 60 minutes and then move it to 5 °C, you've got virtually no chance of seeing anything grow in there.

If you're gonna be a huge wuss anyway, pressure-cook your stew (this acts as an autoclave, bringing temps over 125 °C) and then there will be absolutely no way that your food will spoil (aside from oxidation and the like).

But seriously people, "stew only keeps for 2-3 days?" I guess that's the market for all the anti-bacterial crap they peddle on TV these days.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:42 AM on February 21, 2006

I guess that's the market for all the anti-bacterial crap they peddle on TV these days.

No, it's not marketing, it's my experience. Every time I've ever left stew, chili, etc. in the fridge longer than 3 days, it goes bad. I have determined this in two ways: either it smells bad (and/or has mold) and I don't eat it, or it doesn't smell/look bad and I've eaten it and gotten sick.

If you hold a mixture at 100 °C for 60 minutes

If I boil ratatouille for an hour, I'll ruin it. And I'm not interested in getting a pressure cooker just so I can keep it in the fridge for a month, when the freezer does the trick perfectly well.
posted by scody at 11:48 AM on February 21, 2006

Eggs do last a long time (about a month) but there's a huge difference between relatively fresh eggs and a month-sitting-at-the-back-of-a-fridge eggs. Personally, I don't keep eggs for more than 2 weeks.

If you're just looking for food that lasts forever and can be eaten quickly then those are generally called sandwiches. Stock up on the elements of your favorite sandwiches and you'll always have good stuff to eat sitting in the fridge. Lunch meats can last up to 2 weeks (wouldn't recommend any longer) and condiments are forever.

Apples and oranges can sit around for 3-4 weeks.
posted by nixerman at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2006

If you want to leave food in there a long time, think "freezer" rather than fridge. If you have some protein and or veggies in the freezer, plus some dry staples (rice, pasta) on hand, you can whip up quite a range of decent food without too much effort. Unless you have one of those teensy ice-cube-tray-sized freezer compartments, stock up your freezer for long-term food storage.

In the fridge: kimchi, pickles, unopened jars of pasta sauce. Carrots and cabbage can last quite a while.

On preview, nixerman is right about the eggs. They'll keep, but a fresh egg will make a much better omelet than a three-week old egg. (Use up the three-week-old egg in brownies or something where there is a stronger flavor than the egg. )
posted by ambrosia at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2006

Organic milk lasts a month, I think that's because it's ultrapasteurized. You can freeze bread (in slices).
posted by hooray at 12:10 PM on February 21, 2006

If you want to keep if more more than a few days, use the freezer. There's lots of good commercial frozen stuff out there. It will keep (nearly) forever, assuming your freezer doesn't thaw.
posted by GuyZero at 12:12 PM on February 21, 2006

Long term food stores don't belong in the fridge, they belong in the pantry. I have at least 4-6 cans of tuna, beans, and canned tomatoes in the pantry at any given moment (they get rotated out). Pasta, rice as well.

I keep some ground turkey in the freezer (it's usually 2 for 1, sometimes 3/1 on sale here about once a month) and you've got chili makings on hand at all times (except onions, which you do have to buy on occasion.) The freezer also has frozen pizzas when they're on sale for $1, and I've never known one of them to go bad.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:13 PM on February 21, 2006

Carciofi con gambo - baby artichokes in herbed sunflower oil. I buy them at an Italian sandwich place in Soho in a big can, then keep them in the fridge in a big jar. They're delicious cold, or sautéed, or cut into pasta sauces.
posted by nicwolff at 12:15 PM on February 21, 2006

posted by terrapin at 12:17 PM on February 21, 2006

Stuff I keep in the fridge on a long-term basis:

--Yogurt (esp. in smaller individual containers)
--Cottage cheese
--Peanut butter
--Eggs, as aforementioned

Any of these, plus some bread or crackers, will do a good job of giving you a fast, simple, reasonably nutritious meal.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:40 PM on February 21, 2006

I hate to admit it but my fallback is always frozen lasagne. You take it out, you heat it up, and while it's heating you make a bit of salad. Seems like an OK meal if you're in a hurry.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:41 PM on February 21, 2006

If your goal is to always be able to make a meal without going shopping, it's not your fridge you want to concentrate on, it's your pantry. Dry goods are the way to go. I stock the following, bought on sale whenever possible and kept for months:

Canned chicken and veggie stock
Canned beans, several varieties
Jarred roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, jalepenos
Canned black olives, corn, green chiles
Pastas, a variety
Rices, a variety (risotto, brown, jasmine)
Other grains (quinoa, spelt, barley)
Dried beans (lentils, 16-bean mix)
Canned tomatoes (crushed, whole, and seasoned)
Canned coconut milk, chipotle peppers
Spices, honey, cocoa powder
Corn meal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda
Peanut butter, jelly, tahini
Oils (olive, sesame, peanut, vegetable)
Vinegars (rice, red, balsamic, cider, white)

Then , in the fridge, I keep eggs and cheeses (parm, cheddar) and condiments (peanut sauce, soy, chutney); in the freezer, butter, flour and corn tortillas, nuts, edamame). I also buy the animal-protein stuff (chicken, shrimp, salmon, sausage) in large quantities, then split it up into single-serving sizes, wrap it, and freeze it.

What all this means is that, basically, I can always cook a kickin' meal even if I can't go shopping. I do buy produce once or twice a week because I eat a lot of it. But other than the produce, when the larder is full of all the things above, my weekly shopping list is basically coffee and milk.
posted by Miko at 12:49 PM on February 21, 2006 [93 favorites]

I wouldn't recommend keeping kimchi for more than a few weeks. The fresh stuff is fantastic, and the old stuff will become too acidic to eat.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I want Miko to come over and organize my pantry/shopping list for me.
posted by scody at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2006

In the fridge?
Dried fruit, tortillas, cheese, peanut butter, eggs, pickles, pickled green beans, olives
posted by Packy_1962 at 2:04 PM on February 21, 2006

In addition to peanut butter, don't forget about cashew butter & almond butter. Both taste great and will keep for a long time in the fridge.
posted by invisible ink at 2:11 PM on February 21, 2006

Packy, does dried fruit really need to be refrigerated? I've been keeping a (ziploc-style) bag of prunes on my desk for the past month and I hate to think I just swallowed a handful of something that went bad. It doesn't say anything about "refrigerate after opening" on the bag.
posted by kittyprecious at 2:14 PM on February 21, 2006

You don't refrigerate raisins, and they're the same thing. In fact, dried fruit is probably more likely to get moldy in the refrigerator.
posted by smackfu at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2006

I just bought some Sun-maid dried apricots yesterday and noticed that the package said to refrigerate after opening for best results.
posted by EiderDuck at 2:32 PM on February 21, 2006

It is interesting what some people keep in the fridge and some people keep in the pantry. I HATE cold peanut butter and therefore never put it in the fridge.
posted by jasondigitized at 3:12 PM on February 21, 2006

Yeah, I though peanut butter kept fine in a cool, dark place (ie pantry, not fridge). 'Course I only use it for the occasional batch of peanut butter cookies...

About the only long-lasting food I stock in my refridgerator is large bottles of fruit juices. And unopened cheese.
posted by Rash at 3:29 PM on February 21, 2006

Cheese never goes bad.


I was even told once by an emploee at the Cheese Factory in Marin (CA) that the triple creme brie was buying would last for months and months if left unopened. I put it in the fridge and forgot about it. Opened it a few months later, and wheweee!! It'd gone waaay bad!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 3:48 PM on February 21, 2006

months and months if left unopened

The problem here is proper storage. Use of the word "unopened" suggests it was wrapped in plastic or something. This creates a too-moist environment. You want to replicate the environment in which the cheese was aged (not too dry, but not drippy moist, and not too warm).
posted by rxrfrx at 4:32 PM on February 21, 2006

Eggs - to tell if they are still good, put them in water. If they float, throw them out.
Cheese - avoid actually putting your hands on it - it will mold faster
Peanut butter
Maple Syrup
Unopened products like cheese, cream cheese can last at least until the sell date, which usually is months ahead.
Pickles or things in brine (salt and vinegar)
Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Hot Sauce
Lactose free milk can last longer than regular
Lemon and lime juice

From these staples and a few other things in your pantry that you may need to pick up right before people come over, you can make something to eat . Other staples include flour, salt, baking powder, powdered milk if you really don't do much milk, sugar, canned fruit like peaches. From these you can make pancakes, biscuits, and cobbler. The other sauces listed in the fridge can be combined with meat and fresh or frozen veggies bought that day to make stirfry or steaks.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 6:51 PM on February 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

For the love of your tummy, don't leave curries in the fridge for more than a couple days and then eat them! Much better to Tupperware them up and stick 'em in the freezer. This is what all my desi friends do with the loads of food their moms send them back to school with.

Also, think of good pre-packaged food. My boyfriend, always a tough critic, swears that you can find good premade Indian food (think palak paneer, fryable samosas, you name it). Amy's is a good line of healthy, organic-ish stuff from burritos to pot pies, a lot of them but not all of them vegetarian. Frozen lasagna isn't bad. Pair any of those with a salad or bread and you have something.

Tortellini are also good, the frozen kind don't have anything on fresh ones but that doesn't mean they are bad.

I swear by Bisquick - biscuits, pancakes, shortcake, you name it.

Also oil and vinegar for make your own salad dressings, which jazzes up an otherwise simple meal.

Okay, time to go munch on something.
posted by anjamu at 8:16 PM on February 21, 2006

I have to throw a recommendation in here for a vacuum sealer. I have a Foodsaver, and it actually works really really well. I can't think of a better, easier way to extend the shelf life of most foods.

It doesn't change the way things need to be stored (frozen things still need to be frozen, refrigerator things still need to go in the fridge), but it does extend the shelf life of many things by a great deal.

I buy bulk meat, break it up into 2-3 serving packages, and freeze it. Meat keeps in the freezer for easily 6 months to a year, without any freezer burn (they claim up to 3 years, but I've never left anything that long).

I bought it about ten years ago, not expecting to use it much, but I ended up using it all the time.
posted by Caviar at 8:10 AM on February 22, 2006

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