No one will argue that the price of groceries is sky high. But you can increase the longevity of your food purchases if you know these 10 top tips to safely store food in the refrigerator.
With all the cooking and buying of food you do for your family, now and throughout the year, you cannot afford to waste any food. And, one of the worst culprits are refrigerated and frozen food.
With so much food finding its way into landfills without ever being eaten, what can you do?
Now, not all of it’s refrigerated (or freezer) food but a good amount is. You can reduce the amount of foodstuff that finds it’s way into your trash bin by learning how to safely store our refrigerated food until it’s time to use it.
And, today’s a good day as any to make a positive change for the better.
Here are 10 ways to keep food in the refrigerator and freezer fresher and longer:
1. Keep your refrigerator at the proper temperature
Manufacturers recommend that refrigerators should be set at a temperature of 41 degrees F or lower and your freezer should be at 0 degrees F. (Use an appliance thermometer.)
2. Don’t refreeze certain foods.
Soups, stews or casserole fall into this category. To minimize waste, pack leftovers into smaller containers and only remove what you need from the freezer. Better that than risking contamination by trying to refreeze already thawed food.
3. Keep track of your stored freezer food
6 Best Fresh Food Storage Containers
Here are six food storage containers that are recommended for optimal freshness and safety.
4. Keep your purchases to a minimum
Think quality over quantity. It really isn’t cost-effective to buy in bulk unless you are planning on consuming the whole lot. This tip goes for the refrigerator, as well as, the freezer. Buying too much will cost, not only in dollar-sense, but also by too much wasted, unconsumed foodstuff. Check out this: 6 Must-Have Foods for Busy Moms.
5. Check expiration dates
A “Use By” date means that the manufacturer recommends using the product by this date for the best flavor or quality. The date is not a food safety date. At some point after the use-by date, a product may change in taste, color, texture, or nutrient content, but, the product may still be wholesome and safe long after that date. If you’re not sure or if the food looks questionable, throw it out.
6. Learn which foods can be stored long-term.
There are plenty of foods that can withstand the cold of your freezer, even up to 12 months. Nevertheless, it is always best to this food before this time. Plan on using long-storage foods within 6 months of purchase. Otherwise, they will become one of those unrecognizable frozen blocks at the bottom of your freezer chest that is past its prime and inedible.
RELATED: Food Storage Timetable Printable
7. Never over-crowd your refrigerator or freezer.
There’s a rhyme and a reason for why you should never overcrowd your refrigerator or freezer. It’s because the cool air will not be able to properly circulate throughout the chambers.
Don’t forget to clean your refrigerator regularly: National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
8. Keep bad smells (think stinky cheese) under control
Just because certain foods smell bad, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are spoiled, like specialty cheeses and gourmet food that uses garlic and other “smelly” foodstuff. You can combat these stinkers by using products like Arm and Hammer Baking Soda or an activated charcoal product. And, don’t forget to replace these products per manufacturer’s recommendation.
Storage Tip: Think safety first: Any foodstuff that doesn’t normally look good or smells off, dispose of immediately.
Don’t Let Your Food Go to Waste
Got fruit and vegetables that are getting to the end of their expiration date? How about incorporating them into a healthy juice or smoothie. Use a good blender like a Vitamix Juicer to puree your ingredients into a smooth consistency. Try this recipe: Fruity Ricotta Smoothie
9. Know where to place food for optimal freshness
From an “eating healthy” point of view, place vegetables and fruit closest toward the door, so you are more likely to see the food and eat it.10. You know those deli and produce drawers? Your refrigerator manufacturer designed those so that the right amount of humidity and such would bring out the best in your food.
Storage Tip: Don’t mix and match your foods. Instead, place deli meats in the deli drawer and fruits and vegetables in the produce drawers or crisper for best results.
10. Be prepared for emergency power outages
Should your electric power ever go out, you have about four hours worth of time before the food in your fridge will begin to spoil. This is not true for your freezer, however. According to the FoodSafety.gov website, a fully stocked freezer will hold its temperature up to 48 hours (24 hours for one-half filled freezer). The trick is not to open it, otherwise, the cold air will escape.