Have you ever wondered where the best place is to store food items in your kitchen? When you come home from the grocery store or finish up a meal and have leftovers, you may not be sure whether to leave your food on the counter, refrigerate or freeze it. Well, today you’re going to learn the best places to store your food items to limit your food waste and extend the life of your food!
Follow these 20 Food Storage Tips for your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and you’ll be on your way to optimal food flavor and saving money by having little waste!
Meat/Poultry: Keep meat and poultry in its original packaging in the refrigerator. To freeze, slip the packaging into a resealable freezer bag.
Seafood: Leave seafood in its original packaging and, if possible, place on a bowl of ice in the refrigerator. If not eating right away, freeze seafood by slipping the original packaging into a resealable freezer bag.
Dairy: Should be kept in the refrigerator. Soft cheeses, like Brie and mozzarella, can be kept in an airtight container once open. Wrap semihard and hard cheeses, once open, in wax or parchment paper, then stow in a resealable plastic bag. Milk and Yogurt can can be frozen by placing into freezer containers or freezer proof glass jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion; once thawed, mix to redistribute the solids.
Ketchup/mustard/Condiments: Can be stored safely at room temperature for a few weeks. To extend the shelf life and flavor of these condiments, put them in the fridge, where they’ll be good for several months.
Fresh Pasta: Store in the fridge and buy what you’ll use in a few days so that it doesn’t become chewy or hard.
Vacuum-Sealed Smoked Fish/Deli Meats: Can be stored in the fridge unopened for extended periods — with a suggested “use by” date of several months. Once the package is opened, it’s good for up to five days in the fridge.
Refrigerated Fruits/Vegetables: Store like with like – apples with apples – carrots with carrots. Leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag. Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose.
Whole Wheat Flour: Does need to be refrigerated. The whole grain parts can easily become spoiled at room temperature.
Leftovers: Store leftovers in airtight, leakproof clear containers or wraps, refrigerating within two hours of cooking. Don’t refrigerate leftover canned food in cans – place in an airtight container. Once a can is opened, residual metal on the rim can leach into food and leave a metallic taste.
Coffee: While freshness is maintained with a small amount kept at room temperature and used quickly, it’s best to freeze larger amounts of ground coffee. It’s good for months with optimal flavor.
Nuts: With such a high fat content, nuts can lose flavor and freshness, and even become rancid if kept at room temperature for too long. Keep your nuts in an airtight container or recloseable bag before freezing.
Bacon: While the suggested “use by” date for bacon can be several months, once the package is opened, it should be consumed within the next seven days for food safety. Try dividing into single serving sizes for convenience, and then thaw as needed in the fridge or microwave prior to cooking .
PANTRY (room temperature):
Baked Goods/Bread/Snacks: Make sure baked goods are tightly wrapped or in an airtight container and stored in the pantry. (Dairy-based cakes and pies should go into the refrigerator) Bakery-style breads and baguettes should be kept in their original packaging at room temperature; Any crackers or snack foods will stay fresh longer in an airtight container or bag.
Tomatoes: Should not be refrigerated because they’ll lose flavor rapidly. They will continue to ripen at room temperature.
Oils/Vinegar: Can be stored in the pantry safely
White Flour: While white flour is stable in your pantry (keep the opened bag in a recloseable bag or separate container)
Whole Fruit: Fresh fruit will continue to ripen at room temperature, so leave it out for no more than about five days. To avoid spoilage, keep extra fruit in the fridge where it will not ripen at cooler temperatures.
OTHER FOOD STORAGE TIPS:
– Make sure to use fresh, perishable foods soon after you purchase it. Make sure to maintain the proper temperature and humidity in your refrigerator and freezer. Check temperature every so often with a thermometer to check that the refrigerator is at 35 to 40 degrees F and the freezer at 0 F degrees or below. Even under proper storage conditions, foods lose freshness and nutritive value if they are stored too long.
– Signs of spoilage are a rancid odor, slime on the surface of meat. Off-odors in foods and a sour taste in bland foods can indicate dangerous bacterial spoilage. However, food can be high in bacteria count even without these signs. Make sure to check guidelines on how long to keep food.
– To retain quality and reduce waste, only buy the amount of food you can store properly. Make sure to maintain a clean refrigerator and freezer and avoid overcrowding the refrigerator so cold air can circulate freely.
By following these 20 Food Storage Tips, you’ll be on your way to the freshest food with little waste in no time! Do you have food storage tips? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear!