Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

15 Foods You Probably Shouldn’t Keep in Your Pantry

Are you the type of person who throws anything that’s not dairy or fresh veggies in the pantry? You should really read this.

1 / 16
Kitchen pantry with italian food products. Healthy food concept.bitt24/Shutterstock

For many grocery staples, it’s obvious where they belong in your kitchen, but the jury is still out on a few products (or so you thought). No one wants to see food go bad because it was in the pantry instead of the fridge or the fridge instead of the freezer. According to experts, the following foods should absolutely never be kept in the pantry. And according to Reader’s Digest experts, here’s how to keep last week’s groceries fresh.

2 / 16
Tomato sauce with garlic and parsley in a wooden bowl, top view.Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock

Tomato sauce

Your pantry may be stocked with tomato sauce you bought the last time there was a sale, but it always should go in the fridge after you open it. “In the old days, a lot of us used to keep tomato sauce in the pantry,” Lydia Buchtmann, spokeswoman for the Food Safety Information Council, told HuffPost Australia, “but since then these products have gotten a lot healthier, so they’ve got less unhealthy preservatives in them like salt.” Here are 15 more storage food guidelines you didn’t know.

3 / 16
Fresh homemade organic mustard in bowl on wooden background top viewAleksandrova Karina/Shutterstock

Dijon mustard

Although your favorite hot dog condiment won’t spoil if it’s kept in the pantry, keeping it in the fridge removes any risk of your Dijon losing the flavor you love. So, refrigerate to store it properly. Here are things to avoid when eating in restaurants, according to chefs.

4 / 16
Salami, sliced ham, sausage, prosciutto, bacon. Meat antipasto platter on stone table. Top view with copy spaceBukhta Yurii/Shutterstock


You already know to keep raw meat like chicken and beef in the fridge (and here’s how long meat can stay in the fridge), and the same applies for cured meat like salami. In a 2006 study, researchers found that 23 percent of the tested 1,020 dry Italian salami contained the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes.

5 / 16
top view of bananas in shopping paper bagLightField Studios/Shutterstock


Surprised? You may be used to keeping your bananas in prime pantry real estate, but if you keep them there, they just keep ripening. When they’re ready to eat, put them in the fridge, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says. If the peels turn brown, they’ll still be good to eat.

6 / 16
Pouring Maple Syrup over a Spoonpick/Shutterstock

Pure maple syrup

If you love syrup, why would you eat anything other than the 100 percent pure maple stuff? However, unlike syrup that’s only maple-flavored, this pure kind must be kept in the refrigerator to prevent mold. Store it in the freezer (don’t worry, it won’t freeze solid), and it’ll keep indefinitely. Syrup in the freezer—a concept, we know! It has you asking what else you can freeze (or not).

7 / 16
Belgium wafers with strawberries, chocolate and syrup on a plate. Flat lay. Top viewTimolina/Shutterstock

Chocolate syrup

Maple isn’t the only kind of decadent topping that needs to be kept in the fridge. Left in the pantry, the flavor of your chocolate syrup will go bad. One notable exception is Nesquik syrup; because it doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, refrigerating it will make it crystalized. The pantry isn’t the only place you’re mistakenly storing foods.

8 / 16
Whole grain flour with wheat grains on dark gray backgroundSfairos/Shutterstock

Whole-grain flour

Any variety of whole-grain flour is healthier than your average all-purpose white flour. That’s because these flours contain some or all of the bran and germ from the original wheat, meaning they use the whole grain. (Get it?) However, the oils in the bran and germ can spoil quickly. Storing whole-grain flour in the freezer significantly slows down the spoiling process, The Kitchn reports, and increases their shelf life. And once that flour is off the shelf and out of the oven, keep in mind the one place you’re forgetting to check for moldy bread.

9 / 16
Fresh corn cob and green leaves with basil on dark backgroung, top view AnnaMusiienko/Shutterstock

Corn on the cob

Either cook up this summertime staple right away, or toss it in the fridge. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an ear of corn can lose 50 percent of its sugar if left at room temperature. If you opt to refrigerate, eat it within two days for the best taste.

10 / 16
Plate with tasty fresh butter and knife on table, top viewNew Africa/Shutterstock

Unsalted butter

You may be one of the thousands of Americans who leaves their butter on the counter (or in the pantry) so it gets soft and spreads easily. While this hack is technically safe, health experts told TODAY that only salted butter should be left out of the fridge, since the salt can keep bacteria away. Additionally, you should store it in an airtight container and only leave it out for two weeks, max. You might be tempted to toss the stick in foil and back in the fridge—but here’s why you should never wrap your leftovers in foil.

11 / 16
Raspberry jam jelly in jar. Top view.Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Jam and jelly

Some people prefer room temperature jams and jellies, but at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather eat something that couldn’t potentially make you sick? Almost all jellies and jams say, “Refrigerate after opening” on the jar, so just follow the instructions. The Smucker’s website says that any opened fruit spreads left unrefrigerated for 48 hours should not be used.

12 / 16
natural organic peanut butter in a spoon isolated, on a wooden background, top viewShyripa Alexandr/Shutterstock

Organic peanut butter

Typical peanut butter, like Jif spreads, can be kept in the pantry. But if your peanut butter is natural or organic, the oils will separate and turn rancid. These types need to be kept in the fridge. The same goes for other organic nut butters. Peanut butter in the fridge—just when you thought you’d heard it all! Conversely, here’s some info about commonly-thought refrigerator food that doesn’t actually belong in the refrigerator at all.

13 / 16
Fresh parsley on black Wooden background. Top view. Free space.YARUNIV Studio/Shutterstock

Fresh herbs

While basil can thrive in a pantry, many other herbs need to stay in the fridge to stay fresh. Hardy herbs, like rosemary and thyme, should be washed, wrapped in a damp paper towel and then in plastic, and kept in your fridge’s crisper drawer. Soft herbs, like cilantro, dill, and parsley, should also stay out of the pantry. Keep them in plastic bags in the fridge.

14 / 16
Taste red wine. Bottle of red wine, glass and black grape on black stone background top view copyspace9dream studio/Shutterstock

Opened red wine

What?! Blasphemy! I’m sure that’s what all you wine lovers must be thinking. But it’s true. Opened red wine should be re-corked and refrigerated to stay fresh for another day, reports. The cold temperature will slow down the oxidation process. Don’t have space in your fridge? Well, we have plenty of tricks to squeeze more into all of your storage spaces (top rack included!).

15 / 16
Coconut oil in a glass jar on a black. Top view. Copy space.Geshas/Shutterstock

Coconut oil

Like the oils in nuts and nut butters, coconut oil can eventually go rancid when stored at room temperature for too long. Take it out of the pantry and put it in the fridge.

16 / 16
Tortilla wraps on black background. Top view.Agnes studio/Shutterstock


You may not realize it, but tortillas are actually prone to molding. They’ll stay good for about a week at room temperature, but keep them in the fridge immediately after opening, just to be safe.


  • Huffington Post: “Fridge vs Pantry: Where To Keep These 10 Common Foods”
  • Eat Right: “10 Surprising Foods That Benefit from Refrigeration”
  • Kitchn: “Why You Should Probably Be Storing Your Whole-Grain Flours in the Freezer”
  • TODAY: “Does butter need to be refrigerated?”
  • Smuckers 
  • TODAY: “What’s the best way to save leftover wine? You’ll never guess!”