Smart storage can keep your food fresher for longer and give you greater flexibility when it comes to cooking and eating it.
Instead of just chucking food into the pantry when you get back from the supermarket, take the time to put it in the right place.
Practise FIFO - First in First out
When unpacking groceries, move all of the older products in your fridge, pantry or freezer to the front. Put all of the new products in the back. Doing this means that you are more likely to use up the older foods before they expire.
Keep an eye on what you are throwing away on a semi regulr basis. You could even keep a diary for a week and write down everything you throw out. Perhaps there is a different way you could store it to make it last longer.
Lable things eat me first if it has an approaching expiry date. Use your meal planning to use up these products to prevent them from being biffed.
You may not even know what is actually in your freezer so it may be a good idea to sit down one day and make a list of what is in there so you know and can then plan to use it up.
The golden rules of storage
You may be surprised but the siple loaf of bread is the most wasted food in New Zealand, with Kiwis throwing out 20 million loaves a year! Our humid climate means that bread doesn't last very long at all in the pantry. You can store bread sucesfully in the fridge, but the ideal place for it is in the freezer.
Beware: Once you see the first sign of mould on a slice of bread you will need to throw out the entire loaf. Mould on bread is dangerous and even if it is only visible on one slice, it is likely the spores will have already spread throughout the whole loaf.
Meat should always be kept cold. To ensure your meat doesn't go off , and unless you are using it that night, put it straight into the freezer when you get home from shopping. Defrost in the fridge and use within 24 hours.
Cheese try beeswax wraps which prevent your cheese from drying out and prevent mould from forming on the cheese. Alternatively, wrap the cheese in plastic and pop it the fridge.
A simple supermarket shopping bag wrapped around your block of cheese will work - you'll be amazed at how much longer it lasts.
It may be convenient, but potatoes and onions shouldn't be kept in the same place as they produce gases which spoil each other. Both should be stored separately in cool, dry, dark places.
Most fruits should be stored in the fridge with the exceptions of bananas and pineapples. Bananas should be stored out of the fridge and away from other fruit.
Ethylene gas released by foods such as apples and pears cause bananas to ripen faster.
Once bananas are ripe they produce ethylene gas which ripens other fruit. Check out the A - Z of food waste for more storage and use it up ideas.
Fridge and Freezer storage
The fridge and freezer are the best place to store most food
Keeping things cold is the best way to extend the life of food. Fridges help keep food fresh and safe while freezers can significantly extend the life of food.
Obviously one of the most vaulable tools in your home for storing fresh products. Some foods will have specific storage instructions on the packaging but here are a few tips to help you make the most of the food in your fridge.
- Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature. It should be between 1?C and 4?C to keep your food safe.
- The higher shelves will be slightly warmer than the bottom ones. This means that less risky items should be stored on these shelves, things like drinks and snacks. As it is at eye-level it's also the perfect place to have an "eat me first" shelf.
- The lowest shelf is the coldest so is the best place for meat and fish. Make sure they are sealed properly so that their juices don't drip and contaminate other food.
- The door is the warmest part of your fridge so is the perfect place for your tomato sauce and the rest of your condiments.
- Avoid overcrowding your fridge as air must be able to circulate around the food to keep it at the right temperature.
- Keep perisable and cooked food in your fridge but make sure you cool the cooked foods first
- Staw raw and cooked foods seperately. Store raw meat and poultry in clean sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so they can't touch or drip onto other fresh foods.
- Rotate your items when unpacking your groceries - move the old stuff to the front and put the newer products behind.
- Food can be kept fresher for longer by keeping them in their original packaging, in the fridge. Most modern packaging has been specially designed to preserve fresh food and keep it at its best, so don't open items until you need to.
The freezer is something that many people simply don't utilize often enough. There is not much that can't be frozen. It is a great tool for making sure you have always got food in stock and for helping to avoid wasting it.
Did you know that you can freeze almost anything? Avocados? Yes! Chocolate? For sure. Wine? Why not!
You can keep food safely in the freezer for years, as long as it has been frozen the whole time. Over time the quality does start to deteriorate so it is best to eat frozen food within three months.
Make sure you:
- Put frozen food in the freezer as soon as you get home
- Freeze it before the Use By Date
- Follow any freezing or thawing instructions
- Defrost meat and fish in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge so that they can't touch or drip onto other fresh foods.
- Label the food so you know what it is
- Use reusable containers to reduce plastic waste
- Freeze in small portion sizes for quick meals
Here are the top 10 ideas from Love Food Hate Waste to make the most of your freezer for ultimate food storage.
- Avoid having a freezer full of UFOs! Unidentified frozen objects are never fun if you defrost chicken stock thinking it is wine. Make sure you label everything that goes into the freezer with what it is and the date.
- While you shouldn't overcrowd your fridge, a full freezer works more efficiently than a half empty one so don't be afraid to stock up!
- Defrost food overnight in the fridge, use within 24 hours and cook it until it is piping hot. If you need it quickly, food can be defrosted safely in the microwave.
- Freezer burn typically appears as greyish-brown, dried patches on the surfaces of the food. It is not a food safety risk, and can be cut off before use.
- The best ways to minimise freezer burn are to avoid temperature fluctuations within your freezer (e.g. make sure the door is kept closed and freezer is well loaded) and to ensure products are wrapped well, in air-tight packaging.
- Cardboard cartons are not as good for freezing food in as plastic containers. Use them if you have to, just remember not to leave food frozen in cardboard containers for too long.
- Foods which you have bought frozen or were frozen raw at home can be thawed, cooked and then re-frozen.
- Milk can be successfully frozen. The fresher it is when you freeze it, the fresher it will be when you thaw it, so freeze it as soon as possible. Milk will expand when frozen so tip a small amount out of the bottle (use it in a hot drink) before freezing. Thaw in the fridge and shake well before using.
- Bread should live in the freezer in New Zealand households to stop it going mouldy in our humid climate. Bang the loaf lightly on the bench top to separate the slices then freeze it and just take out what you need.
- Hard cheese (Edam, tasty etc) freezes well, and grating before freezing is a good idea. Soft cheese shouldn't be frozen as the texture is not the same once frozen.