Proper food storage can have a significant impact on our health. It’s also a great way to save money. Tossing previously good produce, meat, or dairy because you stored it incorrectly is a big waste of money. And as you know, improperly stored food can get spoiled, and it’s sometimes hard to tell from the taste or smell. Consuming spoilt food can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, fever, etc.
So, here are the best ways to store your food to optimise your health.
Declutter Drawers and Cupboards
Kitchen stuff comes in more than it goes out, so you can expect things to accumulate over time, which could clutter your drawers and cupboards. Therefore, you must take the time to declutter your kitchen a few times a year. The last thing you want is to open your kitchen drawer only to find an avalanche of things spilling into you.
The first step to decluttering your kitchen is to sort out stuff and remove everything you no longer use. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to have several dozens of plastic cups lying on your cupboards when you don’t even use them. Throw away the broken or chipped items and donate those you will no longer use but are still usable.
Double-check the items after sorting them out. Keep only those things you knew you use. If there are items that you rarely use, store them somewhere. For instance, if you only use waffle makers and cake pans during holidays or special occasions, keep them somewhere.
Now that you’re down to your kitchen essentials, it’s time to clean and organise. Wipe down the cupboards and drawers and put everything back inside. Arrange them neatly while ensuring they remain functional.
Cook or Freeze Meat and Vegetables
Consider cooking or freezing meat and vegetables before you store them in the fridge. Cooking helps to kill bacteria that can otherwise make the meat or vegetables spoil faster. But make sure you know the proper way to store cooked foods.
Place hot food in shallow dishes or divide them into smaller portions to help cool the food as quickly as possible. Also, avoid placing them in the fridge while they are still hot. Leave them to cool before storage. Wait for the steam to stop rising from the food before you place them into the fridge.
Cooking food before freezing allows the flavour and nutrients to get “locked” while still at their peak. They will remain that way until you defrost them. As such, they are as perfect as when you just cooked them.
Fresh vegetables lying in the fridge naturally degrade time after time, which means the quality of their flavour and texture, and the vitamins and minerals will also degrade. Cooking and freezing ensure your food remains in optimum condition until you eat them.
Keep Food Covered in the Fridge
When storing food items in the fridge, make sure they are covered. Covering or wrapping food keeps the harmful bacteria from raw foods moving to ready-to-eat meals. Covering also prevents food from drying out or becoming stale. You can refer to some great online resources to learn how to store food items properly to optimise your health, especially when keeping them in the fridge.
Leave the eggs in their original box before storing them in the fridge. Or you can place them on the shelves in the door, which are specifically made for them. They must be placed underneath ready-to-eat food since there’s a chance they could crack and drip into other food items.
There are food items that you should immediately keep in the fridge once you open them. So, check the labels to find out which one. Examples of food items to store in the fridge after opening are dairy, soup, pickles, jars of cooking sauce, ketchup, and jams.
When it comes to canned items, never leave them open in the fridge. Transfer the contents into a container or a covered bowl before storing them in the fridge. Make sure to consume them within two days. Beyond that, you have to discard them.
Clean the Refrigerator Regularly
The fridge is one of the most used items in the kitchen. It plays a significant role in keeping food items safe for consumption to ensure optimum health. Therefore, you must clean it as often as you can. Otherwise, food residue and stains can build up on the shelves and drawers and spoil the items you keep inside.
Another reason you should regularly clean your refrigerator is to keep it in good condition and ward off any unpleasant odour. Forgotten perishables can give off a funky smell whenever you open the door.
The best way to clean a refrigerator is to remove the shelves, drawers, and other removable components. Once removed, use hot water and mild dish soap to clean them.
Use baking soda and water to clean the internal components you cannot remove. Prepare a mixture of one part baking soda and seven parts water. Use this to wipe off the interiors of the refrigerator. Avoid commercial refrigerator cleaners because their scent could transfer to the food inside the fridge.
Keep an Eye on Expiration Dates
Food products come with expiration dates. Manufacturers use different wording for these expiration dates, so you should learn how to read them to determine when the food will remain safe for consumption.
There are many ways to keep track of food expiration dates. In fact, there are online tools and apps that you can use to track expiry dates. You can also input them manually on a sheet and create a reminder on your phone or computer.