While there are a few items that REALLY need to be put in the refrigerator (Meats, most dairy products, leftovers, etc), there are a great many things which are perfectly happy sitting on your kitchen counter or in the pantry. A few items in this list are happy truly warm, but most of them prefer cool (not cold) temperatures.
To make things simple, we’ve divided the items into groups of storage conditions.
Cool, Dry, and Dark
The pantry is the perfect place for these items. While not always as cool as onions, garlic, and potatoes might like, it works for pretty much everything.
Uncut onions are perfectly happy in a cool dark place. Make sure that place is relatively dry, as excess humidity can make onions a bit mealy. You do need some though; you don’t want to dehydrate them. Once they’re cut open just toss them in a plastic baggie and pop them in the fridge. They should last a couple days, but if you’re doing much cooking you’ll wind up using them fairly quickly.
Much like onions, keep your garlic in a cool, dry spot. This will help keep the flavor nice & strong, and will also keep the cloves firm. Once you discover the cloves softening, it’s time to get some new garlic. If you notice some little green things growing out of the top don’t worry, it’s technically edible, but the green parts have a bitter, less pleasant taste.
At no point in history did a french chef say “Man, these potatoes are so much better after being in the fridge for a week". Neither will you. Your icebox will turn your potatoes into somewhat gritty, gross tasting tubers. Just put them with your onions and garlic and you’ll be fine.
Nobody likes moldy bread, but nobody likes cold, dry bread either. Bread belongs on the counter where you’re more likely to eat it. If you insist on putting it in the fridge, you will make your bread go stale more quickly by doing so...Gross. If you’re the type of person who buys en masse and stores your loaves, put them in the freezer until you need the excess.
The only time you’ll want to put coffee in the fridge is if you have a horrible smell you need to get rid of; they’re great at absorbing odors, which is precisely why you don’t want to put them in there. Humidity can also wreak havoc on your flavors, and who wants a mildewy cup of coffee with overtones of that BBQ chicken you put next to it? Keep it in an airtight, flip top container, or just buy enough for 5 or 6 days at a time and leave it in the bag it came in.
The amount of vinegar in this stuff is going to keep the wee-beasties at bay. Just put it in the pantry and don’t worry about it.
Yes yes, the oils in nuts can go rancid at room temperature. But nuts taste a lot better at room temperature and at least in my house, they never sit around too long. If you really want to keep them around for awhile, put them in the freezer and pull enough out for a few weeks at a time.
The cold temps of the refrigerator will make your honey rock hard, which makes it a pain to spread or drizzle. It can also cause the honey to crystalize, which while not harmful, makes it a bit trickier to use. Fun fact: honey never goes bad; edible amounts have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs! I suppose you could cause it to go bad if you tried, but under normal circumstances it can last for years.
On the Counter
All of these items are best stored on your countertop. You’re much more likely to eat them when they’re staring you in the face, and their flavors are better preserved when stored or eaten at room temperature.
Apples are just fine on the counter. Putting them in the fridge however, won’t hurt these fruits as much as many others. I actually prefer my apples slightly chilled, as it tends to balance the sugar/acid profile quite well.
Peaches, Plums, etc.
Most of these will need to ripen on your counter before they’re at their best. Placing them in the fridge only slows this down. Besides, leaving them on the counter will encourage you to eat them. Out of Sight, Out of Mind!
Refrigerators are where flavors go to die. Tomatoes will lose some of their sweet taste and will become mealy when put in such cold conditions. For better tomatoes, store them on the counter. If they begin to get too ripe, it's time to make tomato jam or roasted-tomato sauce.
Much like tomatoes, the flavors of cantaloupes, honeydews, and watermelons are at their best when left of the counter. Once you’ve cut into them however, put them in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth on those sugary sweet surfaces. They should last about 4 days after being cut.