Personally, I’m a massive fan of toast, but everyone else in my household is in the cereal for breakfast camp. And whenever there’s a good deal on cereal, I find myself with several boxes of the stuff to store.
So how do you store cereal? To store your cereal, transfer it to an airtight container as soon as you open the box. The best place to keep it is in a cool, dry place like the pantry. Avoid storing cereal in the fridge unless you live in a very humid climate.
How to keep cereal fresher for longer
Storing cereal is all about maintaining its crunch and keeping it from becoming stale. Air, moisture, and humidity are your enemies when it comes to cereal.
The best place to store cereal is in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container. If you live somewhere where the air is pretty dry, the pantry is fine. If you live somewhere humid, then the fridge can make your cereal last a little longer (more on that later).
Some people choose to keep their cereal boxes on top of the fridge because they don’t have space in their cupboard. Don’t do this. The cereal boxes can block heat escaping from your fridge meaning the fridge has to work harder than normal to keep cold.
An unopened cereal box from the supermarket is airtight and will keep the cereal fresh for several months. However, once you’ve opened the cereal box this is no longer the case.
If the cereal will be eaten within a week, you can simply roll down the plastic bag within the cereal box and use a clip to keep it secure. A simple hack is to stuff the empty space at the top of the box with a plastic bag or newspaper to keep the air out.
Related: How To Store Biscotti
The video below shows a cool way to fold the cardboard on a cereal box for extra protection.
However, these methods won’t be effective for longer than 1-2 weeks. If you want to keep the cereal for a few months, you should transfer it to an airtight container. Sealed containers will keep air out and stop any pantry pests.
If you’re concerned about bugs getting into your cereal, then a good tip is to put a bay leaf in with the cereal. Bay leaves are said to be a natural insect repellent because the bugs don’t like their bitter smell.
Can you keep cereal in the fridge?
Yes, you can keep cereal in the fridge, but whether it’s recommended or not depends on the environment you live in.
Keeping cereal in the fridge is only recommended if you live in a humid environment or somewhere where pantry pests will be a problem. In humid air, the cereal can absorb moisture, which will render it soggy.
Keeping it in the fridge can prevent this. Plus you won’t find any weevils living in the fridge!
Also, whole grain cereals contain more natural fats and should be kept in the fridge for longer-term storage. Fats go rancid quicker at room temperature than they do in the fridge.
However, if your environment isn’t humid and pests aren’t a concern, then there’s really no need to keep your cereal in the fridge. It won’t increase the life of your cereal and the box will be taking up valuable space. In fact, if you store your cereal incorrectly in the fridge you can shorten its shelf life.
Always transfer your cereal into an airtight container before you put it in the fridge. If it’s not kept in an airtight container, you risk it absorbing smells or moisture from your other foods.
Best storage containers for cereals
The best storage containers for cereals are these BPA-free dispensers from the Chefs Path Store.
You get four boxes in a set, and each one can hold 135 oz. You also get eight reusable chalkboard labels and a marker. Very eco-friendly!
I use these to label what’s in the box and the date I filled the container. This way I know how old the cereal is.
The four-sided-locking lids feature a silicone seal that’s guaranteed to keep both air and water out. The pouring spout can be accessed by opening just one side of the lid, so you don’t have to take the whole thing off every time you want to access the cereal.
Best of all, the storage container is easy to grip and has a molded handle that makes it very difficult to accidentally drop the container.
Are plastic boxes safe for cereal storage?
If the box is made from BPA-free, food-grade plastic, then yes, it’s perfectly safe for storing cereal in.
To see if your plastic container contains BPA, look for the identification number within the recycling symbol (three arrows in the shape of a triangle).
The number will be between 1 and 7. Containers that are considered safe for food storage will have a 2, 4 or 5.
Since cereal is eaten and stored cold, you don’t need to worry about the effects of heating the plastic. If you want to be extra careful, keep the box away from direct sunlight and wash it with luke-warm water rather than hot water.
Is glass or plastic better for storing cereal?
BPA-free plastic is just as safe as glass, so safety isn’t a differentiating feature between the two.
I would always opt for plastic simply because I’m quite clumsy and would likely break a glass container in no time. Plastic containers are also cheaper.
that said, glass containers do typically last longer. If you’re not worried about any accidental breakages they’re a solid option.
Can you freeze cereal?
Freezing cereal isn’t usually recommended as a storage technique because freezing things tend to change their texture. Frozen cereal can become soggy.
If you do want to freeze the cereal, I recommend doing a freeze test. Freeze a small amount of cereal for a couple of days and see what happens. If you’re fine with how the cereal comes out then you’ll be safely able to freeze more.
Plain cereals will freeze better than cereals with fruits because they contain less moisture.
Recently there’s also been loads of people freezing their cereal just before they eat it.
The idea is to freeze a portion of cereal for half an hour or so before putting the milk in. Because the cereal is so cold, it keeps the milk colder for longer and doesn’t get soggy as quickly.
Related: Can You Freeze Granola
How to fix soggy cereal
If one morning you wake up and have soggy cereal, don’t panic. There’s an easy way to fix it.
To restore soggy cereal to its former glory, spread it thinly on a baking tray and pop it in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 °F.
This will dry the cereal out and make it crispy again.
How to store cereal long term
If you’re serious about long-term storage, the best thing you can do is store your cereal in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Using this method you can increase the shelf life of your cereal to years rather than months.
Mylar bags create a strong and durable barrier between the cereal and the outside environment. You can completely seal them using an ordinary iron. Nothing will be able to penetrate the bag – air, water, or pests.
Before you seal the bag, you need to put an oxygen absorber in. This gets rid of all the oxygen inside the mylar bag. It’s only really oxygen within the air that’s a problem because it causes oxidation, which in turn leads to staleness. Once the oxygen is gone, you don’t need to worry about the cereal going stale.
Some people like to freeze their cereal for a few hours as soon as they bring it home to kill any insect eggs. This prevents any potential pest problems later down the road – especially if you’re measuring in years, not months.
Another alternative is to vacuum pack the cereal, but in doing this you risk crushing the cereal.
Does cereal go bad?
Cereal doesn’t go bad in the traditional sense. It won’t go moldy or become unsafe to eat unless it somehow gets wet. Obviously, if you can see any mold then don’t eat the cereal!
While cereal shouldn’t go bad, it can go stale. Exposure to oxygen and moisture will speed up how quickly cereal goes stale. You’ll know if cereal is stale by the taste and texture. If it’s not crunchy anymore or tastes a bit off, it’s past its best, and you should throw it out.
Another sign you need to throw your cereal out is if you can see insects crawling in it. Dried foods are a favorite breeding ground of pests like weevils and moths.
Whole-grain cereals and cereals with nuts are higher in natural fats and oils, so they can go rancid. Fats go rancid over time as they oxidize. Eating rancid cereal isn’t harmful, but it doesn’t taste nice.
Is cereal safe to consume after the expiry date?
Usually, what’s actually printed on the cereal box will be a best before date rather than a use-by date. If this is the case, then yes the cereal will be safe to consume after this date, but it won’t taste as good.
The cereal will degrade in quality the longer it’s kept. However, the storage methods I’ve outlined in this article will slow this process down and help keep your cereal fresh for as long as possible.
If you’re not sure whether the printed date is a best before or use by date then you could always contact the manufacturer for clarification.
How long can you store cereal?
How long your cereal lasts depends mainly on how well you store it.
|Airtight container||4-6 months||–|
|Mylar bag / vacuum packed||Several years||–|
|Prepared hot cereal||–||4-5 days|
These timelines are just estimates. Lots of other factors, such as the ingredients in your cereal, can affect your cereals shelf life.
Always trust your instinct and don’t eat the cereal if you’re concerned it’s not safe.
How to store leftover hot cereal
Leftover dry cereal that’s been in milk isn’t worth saving. It will quickly turn into a mushy mess no one wants to eat. But leftover hot cereal can be delicious the next day.
Prepared dishes generally last as long as the most perishable ingredient in them. In this case, that’ll be the milk.
The cereal should be kept in the fridge where it will last for 4-5 days, but it’s best to eat it sooner rather than later. Wait for the cereal to cool down before covering the bowl with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will protect it from getting contaminated by other foods in the fridge.
How To Store Cereal
- 1 portion cereal
- The best place to store cereal is in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container.
- If you live somewhere where the air is pretty dry, the pantry is fine.
- If you live somewhere humid, then the fridge can make your cereal last a little longer.
- Some people choose to keep their cereal boxes on top of the fridge because they don’t have space in their cupboard. Don't do this. The cereal boxes can block heat escaping from your fridge meaning the fridge has to work harder than normal to keep cold.
- If you’re concerned about bugs getting into your cereal, then a good tip is to put a bay leaf in with the cereal. Bay leaves are said to be a natural insect repellent because the bugs don’t like their bitter smell.