You should never store food in an open container. Here's why

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Americans waste a lot of food. The FDA notes that, based on 2010 data, it is anywhere between 30 and 40%, which equates to 133 billion pounds and $161 billion. Why do we waste so much food? As individuals, we can only conjecture, but hey, we all want to do our part to reduce waste, if for no other reasons than it helps keep our household's bottom line in the black. Not to mention, per Well and Good, storing foods properly also ensures that they continue to taste good after you open them.

One of the easy ways to help eliminate food waste is taking simple steps to store foods in the refrigerator and the pantry properly. But alas, we are all guilty of skipping steps in the name of being too busy or too tired. That said, there is one storage error we should never commit regardless of how busy and tired we are, and that's storing foods in uncovered containers or on uncovered plates. This is a big no-no for what seems like obvious reasons, but if you don't know, don't feel bad.

Simply put, you should never put your leftover Papa John's pizza or your favorite spaghetti dish or basically any opened food in the refrigerator if you have not placed it in a covered storage container and here's why.

Storing foods in covered containers eliminates spoilage and contamination

There are practical reasons you should always cover foods before storing them, especially in the refrigerator. Things are easily knocked around and over when you are rifling in the fridge to find condiments or whatever foods get pushed to the back. Per CNET, storing foods properly can help prevent messy spills and clean-ups.

But beyond the obvious and according to Networx, foods should definitely be covered when you put it in the refrigerator for a myriad of reasons, which include helping it to avoid drying out; cross-contamination, which the Minnesota Department of Health points out helps in reducing foodborne illness; and to reduce the possibility of it sucking up odors that can change the taste and texture of your favorite foods.

What containers can you use? Real Simple shares that plastic wrap and foil can be your friends when it comes to helping to keep your food and refrigerator fresh and you are tired and in a rush. Just tear a piece off and cover your plates and bowls. Still, Food Safety recommends "strong, airtight" containers when it comes to food storage.