You may know that proper food storage in the refrigerator is important to prevent cross contamination, but did you know it also plays a big role in how long your food keeps?
If you want your food to stay fresh, delicious and safe to eat for as long as possible, it’s important to understand things like which shelves in a fridge food should be stored on, the right fridge food storage containers to use, where in the fridge items should (and should not) go and even how to store food in the freezer.
This is especially true for raw meat and fish. Once you open the packaging, you risk introducing new bacteria that can quickly multiply. Keep food in its original packaging until you’re ready to use it.
If you’re worried about something leaking onto other foods (those styrofoam trays with the plastic wrap are notorious for leaks!) keep the packaging on, but put the whole thing into a sealed zipper bag or container.
Cooked food and leftovers should always be stored in airtight containers. Plastic and glass containers both work great as long as they form a tight seal to prevent air from getting in… and anything in the container from leaking out.
Leftovers should only be kept for 3-4 days, so be sure to label the container with the date it was cooked and stored.
You’ve packaged up the remains of your latest culinary creation in a proper, airtight container. But how to store cooked food in the fridge so it actually gets eaten? Make it visible!
Have a designated leftover spot in your fridge and always put leftovers right near the front so you see them every time you open the fridge. And ideally remember to eat them.
Where you put things in the fridge will make a big difference too. For example, did you know that those little shelves and cubbies on the door of your fridge are the warmest place? That’s why you should never store your milk there. That’s a better place for things like condiments and juice.
So where’s the coldest place? The lower shelves! That’s where you should be storing dairy products, eggs and raw meat. As a rule of thumb, if something needs to be cooked it should go on the lower shelves. If it’s ready to eat like leftovers or veggie dips, it should go on the upper shelves.
Here’s a handy guide from Greatist on how to organize your refrigerator properly.
Freezers tend to get overlooked, but how you store food in them will not only help the food keep longer, it’ll also preserve the lifespan of your appliance.
Bon Appetit has a great guide on proper freezer storage, but some key points to remember are:
Don’t overstuff - Air needs to circulate freely.
Never put hot food in the freezer - The freezer will have to work harder to chill it, and you risk partially thawing the food nearby, which could compromise its safety.
Portion food the way you’ll use it - Don’t just freeze a giant package of ground beef. Separate it into portions you’ll actually use and freeze them separately.
Follow the above tips on storing food properly (and saving money in the process) and you will go a long way towards helping reduce global food waste. How very heroic!
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