One of the biggest impacts on the shelf life of food is how it is stored. Improperly stored food tends to spoil or go stale much faster and ends up being tossed out before it can be used.
Food waste due to improper storage is a really easy fix. All it takes is a little knowledge, and maybe a few new containers.
Here are 5 FoodHero tips for proper food storage to reduce food waste in your home:
There are two reasons to avoid overcrowding your fridge:
Some fruits and vegetables produce high volumes of ethylene gas, which others can be quite sensitive to.
Ethylene is a naturally occurring gas given off as produce ages. It can cause more sensitive fruit and veg to age faster. You want to keep the high producers away from the highly sensitive.
The most “gassy” fruit and vegetables include ripe bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, potatoes, pears and more. Sensitive produce includes leafy greens, onions, cucumbers, carrots and more.
Here’s a handy guide to which fruit and veg need to be kept separate.
If your family easily goes through a new box of cereal within a few days, there’s no need to transfer it to an airtight container.
But if you frequently have cereal, crackers, cookies, nuts, trail mix or other dried snacks going stale, a small investment in some airtight containers will save you money on food waste in the long run.
You really don’t have to get fancy! You can even save and reuse glass or plastic jars from other foods like pasta sauce or peanut butter. Just be sure to clean and dry them really well first.
It’s tempting to get meat home from the grocery store and freeze it right away in its packaged up tray. Or to dump half a lasagna into one big container and pop it in the freezer.
But is that the way you’ll use it? If not, trim, cut or portion out meat into how you’ll use it come cooking time, then package and freeze. Portion out leftovers into individual servings and package separately before freezing.
When food is frozen in one big mass, it’s less convenient to use and will likely end up sitting in the freezer until it’s no good anymore. Or, it may take so long to defrost that you aren’t sure of its safety. Freeze food the way you’ll use it.
There’s a common misconception that food kept at colder temperatures will keep longer. This is not always the case! Some foods spoil or go stale faster if they are kept at cold temperatures.
Melons, for example, should be kept at room temperature until they’re cut (at which point, the fridge is best). Bread goes stale faster in the fridge and bananas turn black! Cold temperatures give tomatoes and potatoes an unappetizing texture, and believe it or not, cold is bad for coffee beans!
The fridge is great for prolonging the life and safety of many foods, but not all. If you’re unsure, Google it!
Leftovers are one of the greatest sources of household food waste. You can help reduce leftover waste by storing your leftovers towards the front of your fridge and at eye level. This will help you remember to use them up quickly, and prevent them from ending up in the bin. It’s a superhero move!
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