According to Grand View Research, 40% of food wasted globally is caused in our households. There are several factors leading to wasting food at home. One of these factors is improperly storing food at home. Improper food storage can cause various problems, including bacteria and mold growth and food spoilage through natural decay, that push us to throw food out, contributing to wasting billions of dollars across the world.
What can we do to make our food last longer?
An easy way to prolong the lifespan of any food item is to keep it cool. However, certain foods must be refrigerated to last at all, this includes foods with a 'use-by' date, cooked food and ready-to-eat food such as desserts and cooked meats.
Naturally, different food items need to be stored differently. Food is generally broken down into three categories:
Perishables are fresh food products that will ‘perish’ or spoil quickly, especially if not refrigerated or frozen properly. This includes food items like fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, and cooked foods. They typically are safe to consume within 2-7 days-even less for meats- and longer if frozen.
Semi-perishable food items are also fresh food items that ‘periosh’ or spoil quickly if not stored properly, however; they can have an extended life if handled and stored well. These food items don’t require refrigeration, yet they have a somewhat limited life span -no longer than a year, unless frozen. This includes food items like grains, flours, nuts, and dried fruits. To avoid having these food items go stale, it’s recommended to store them as their packaging instructs, usually in clean vacuum-sealed bags.
Non-perishables refer to food items that are known to resist spoilage the most out of all food categories. These food items usually have a shelf life of one year and longer, including canned goods, spices, tea bags, and dried beans. It’s important to remember that these food items can still spoil or decay if handled carelessly. To be able to consume these products for as long as possible without sacrificing their quality, it’s important to store them under the conditions referred to in their packaging.
Your Fridge has to be cold enough to cool anything!
Since refrigerating your food is one of the best ways to extend its life, remember that your fridge has to be cold enough to serve its function. According to NiDirect, your fridge must be between 4ºC and 5ºC. You can check your fridge’s temperature using a fridge thermometer, or just set it using the dial attached to it. Now placing your food in the fridge isn’t all you need to do, you have to make sure your food actually gets cold. This can be done by:
- Making sure hot food cools down before going into the fridge
- Making sure the fridge door is closed properly
Why not freeze?
Another way to keep your food items safe to consume for even longer periods of time -sometimes years!- is to freeze them. But remember, freezing certain food items for too long can compromise their taste and texture. So remember to follow the following tips when freezing food:
- Make sure your freezer works properly, and always read food labels to learn how to store them best.
- Freeze your food items before they are spoiled or expired! You want your food to be safe to consume for longer periods, not to preserve its spoilage!
- Don’t freeze your food after you’ve thawed it.
- Try to consume your food as soon as possible after thawing it, you’re now treating it like it is fresh again.
- Make sure to cook your thawed food well and all the way through.
Where do we go from here?
Remember, there are many ways to optimally preserve our food items. Follow the below resources for tips and tricks to keep your food great for longer and save the money you spent on it!
Useful resources to refer to: