The do’s and don’ts of proper food storage

Have you ever opened the fridge door and wondered: “Can I still eat this?” Setting food storage rules will make sure that you can always answer this question with certainty.

Make spoiled food a thing of the past with our simple do’s and don’ts for smart kitchen organization. Read the complementary tips on reducing waste in our article “What to do with leftovers?” and you will be all set to make the most meals out of every trip to the supermarket.

The don’ts of food storage: common mistakes to avoid

Don’t leave the dishes you cooked covered with aluminum foil in the oven and definitely never store cooked foods there overnight either. The warmth creates perfect conditions for the germs to spread. Serve what you will eat right away, cover the rest and see that you transfer it to an airtight container and into the fridge within about an hour.

Don’t refreeze foods after they have already thawed: only defrost as much as you need, especially when it comes to meats and seafood.

Don’t use aluminum foil to store acidic foods. Aluminum dissolves when exposed to ingredients like vinegar, tomato sauce or tart fruits and your meal will end up tasting metallic. Transfer opened canned foods from the original tins for the same reason.

Don’t store tomatoes, bread or potatoes in the fridge. This common mistake makes the veggies go bad and the bread go stale much faster than they would if they were stored at room temperature.

Don’t store ethylene-emitting fruits, like bananas and apples around other fresh produce, because it will cause it to ripen too fast.

The do’s of food storage: helpful tips for kitchen organization

Do store non-perishable items, such as canned foods, cereals or other sealed packages in the cupboards or the pantry and refill them into airtight containers when opened.

Do store meat at the bottom of the fridge, where it’s coldest and catch any leakage when defrosting it to make sure it doesn’t contaminate anything else.

Do keep cooked dishes in airtight food storage containers and label them with the cooking date. The rule of thumb is that 2-4 days in the fridge and 1-2 months in the freezer are the expiration dates for most cooked meals.

Do consider that light, temperature, moisture, and oxygen impact how long your foods will last. While a cool, dry and dark place like a basement can hold your products for quite some time, you would have to keep a close eye on the ingredients stored in a typical kitchen cabinet.

Do rotate through the food that you have stored. Move older ones to the front when you replace them and watch out for expiration dates to make sure you don’t lose any nutrition or flavor.

Do use aluminum foil to cover strong-smelling foods before they go into the freezer. This, plus an airtight plastic bag will make sure that no odors get out and no moisture gets in.


Photo by Frans Van Heerden & Gavilla

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