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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Nearly 40% of food waste in the United States comes from our homes, according to Feeding America, but there are some simple changes you can make to prevent throwing away your food and your money.

Chef Michael Makuch from Johnson and Wales University walked 12 News through some storage steps to help keep refrigerated foods fresher longer.

“A good rule of thumb: your ‘hot zones’ in your fridge are going to be the door and the top of the fridge,” Makuch explained, saying those are good spots to store drinks, butter and salad dressings.

Certain fruits such as strawberries like a bit of humidity, so those can go on the top shelf in a container with a paper towel on the bottom.

“We don’t want to wash anything before we are ready to use it,” Makuch added.

The middle of the fridge should be used for dairy products and eggs since they’re susceptible to going bad in warmer temperatures.

“If I know I’m looking for a dairy product—cheese, milk, whatever— or eggs, I keep it right here,” Makuch said. “Even if I have an egg drawer on the door, I still keep my eggs on the middle shelf.”

Makuch also had some advice for keeping vegetables fresh.

“Leafy greens in particular like a little bit of humidity, so your crisper drawers can be a good place to store them,” he said. “I like to use bins too, just to kind of keep them separate.”

Lastly, he saves the bottom drawer for unfrozen meat.

“Any meats, raw meats always on the bottom,” he said. “I like to keep them on a tray, just in case they do drip, it makes cleanup a little bit easier.”

Your fridge should always be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to Makuch, since that temperature range slows the growth of bacteria on your food.

Food waste advocates also recommend buying fresh foods in smaller quantities and keeping a grocery list to prevent overbuying.

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