Most of us shop at the grocery store at least once a week. We buy all the items we think we might need and then get home and unpack, storing our food items in cupboards, the refrigerator, or the freezer. But many of us don’t use everything that we buy either because we have decided to have a night off cooking, or we just don’t fancy the meal we had planned to cook on a certain day.
Unfortunately, some foods have a short shelf life and unless we store them properly can end up in the trash, which is the equivalent of putting your hard-earned dollars in there. Buying in bulk might seem a terrific way to save money, but if you are throwing half of what you buy away it makes no sense at all.
So, aside from not buying so much when we go shopping, or buying only what you are going to cook, is there a way of making food stay fresher for longer? Below are a few tips:
Become a Savvy Shopper
It is worth checking the best-before and use-by dates on the products that you buy. Grocery store staff are trained in stock rotation and will always place the items that are going to go out of date at the front of the shelves. This means that the products with the longest shelf-life, will be towards the back. Instead of reaching for the product nearest to you, take some time to check the dates and reach to the back.
Don’t Always Go by Best-Before Dates
Stores use best-before dates to give customers an indication of when the product will be at its best. That does not mean that it is not safe to eat after this date. However, use-by dates tend to be placed on foods that would be dangerous to eat after a specific period of time. It is important to use your judgment here and rely on smell and taste rather than dates printed on packaging. After all, the dates printed are usually a guide and are not exact.
Store Your Food Carefully
The experts at Houston-based CedarStoneIndustry say that to ensure your food lasts longer, you should store it properly. They recommend food-grade IBC totes for items like rice, cereal, and pasta as it will keep moisture out. When it comes to foods like fruit and vegetables, which are the ones most likely to end up in the trash, there are different methods for storing different items.
For example, it is best to store mushrooms in a paper bag rather than a plastic tub. The paper bag will help keep them dry and slime-free. Berries such as strawberries and raspberries tend to go moldy quite quickly but if you wash them in a solution of one part vinegar and three parts waterthe mold spores will be killed. You can then place them in a glass jar in the refrigerator and they will last much longer.
Cheese should be wrapped in a porous paper in the refrigerator to allow it to breathe and stop it smelling.
Freeze or Cook Meat
Even when you store store-bought meat in the refrigerator in its original packaging, there is a risk that it will smell bad by the time you take it out to be cooked. Avoid waiting until the day before its use-by date to cook it by either freezing it or cooking it in advance and then freezing it. Cooked meat in the refrigerator lasts longer than raw, so even if you cook it and put it back in the refrigerator, it will probably last for another week.