Your Garage Is NOT a Fridge—Here’s Why

Do you stash fridge and pantry overflow in your garage? Seems totally logical—but is it safe?

Midwestern dads everywhere are in for bad news: the garage shouldn’t be used to store food. Whether it’s restaurant leftovers, canned food or a spare gallon of milk, it’s not safe to stash most foods on garage shelves, with a few exceptions. And we swear, we’re not just being fussy!

Always running out of room in the fridge? Here’s how to maximize fridge space.

The First Issue: Climate

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: keeping food in the garage in the summer is a bad idea. The garage is probably hot and damp, which is the prime condition for spoilage of all foods.

But what about the winter, especially in cold climates? The main concern is temperature stability. Assume an uninsulated garage will stay slightly warmer than the outside temperature, so on a very cold day, that might put your garage in the safe zone, between 35º and 38º. If the temperature dips below freezing, the texture of foods like milk or leftovers can get wonky. If the temperature gets above 40º, then that’s outside the safe range, and food can spoil. Here are more food safety mistakes you might be making.

Overbuying at the grocery store? Blame your shopping cart.

Plus, the Pest Question

Another risk of keeping food in the garage: pests! Mice and rodents, roaches and insects will be attracted to food in the garage. No need to incentivize baddies nesting in your garage! Learn how to get rid of mice, if they do happen to move in.

What About Pantry Items?

In general, most pantry items, from canned foods to dry goods like crackers or chips, should be stored in a cool, dry space. The garage doesn’t have the climate control of an insulated house, which means it’s damper during all seasons. That’ll make even unopened pantry goods spoil quicker, and even canned goods can get rusty.

The Exception

Canned beverages, like soda, are generally safe to keep in the garage, though they may rust. Note, too, that the quality of beer and wine can deteriorate in too-hot or too-cold temperatures.

Next up: Try these clever storage tricks to keep foods fresh.

Kelsey Dimberg
A former senior digital editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Chicago. Since 2010, she’s followed a gluten-free diet, and especially enjoys the challenge of baking sourdough bread and pizza dough. As a contributing writer for Taste of Home, she covers a broad range of topics but with a special emphasis on gluten-free cooking and baking. Outside of her gluten-free experiments in the kitchen, Kelsey is also the author of the thriller novel “Girl in the Rearview Mirror.”