Did you know that 12% of food bought for U.S. households is discarded? That amount of food waste adds up: $600+ per year, per home, in wasted food costs. On a national level, the U.S. throws away almost 50% of the food we produce. To put this into prospective, New York City alone has an annual food surplus of about 50 million pounds.
Here’s a few tips on food storage that could help bring that wasted food bill down in your home.
Your refrigerator is the first place to start. Do you know what temperature it is inside your fridge? Fridge thermometers are cheap and easy to use. The optimal fridge temperature is between 40° – 37° degrees. Anything above 40° is a step closer to a danger zone where food can easily grow bacteria.
Surprisingly, the refrigerator door is the area in your fridge where the temperature fluctuates the most. Make sure you aren’t storing any perishable items like eggs or milk inside the door.
The more open space you leave inside your fridge, the better it will do it’s job. Cramming food into your fridge creates poor air flow—limiting your fridge’s cooling power.
Make sure to cool hot food before refrigerating. It should reach the 40° or below mark within 3 hours after being cooked. Food that needs to be frozen, however, doesn’t need to be cooled before being placed in the freezer, where it should reach 0° for optimal storage temperature.
The longer you store food in the freezer, the more likely you are to loose quality in taste. But you don’t risk your food spoiling as long as it stays at 0°. Packaging food that will be frozen in multiple smaller containers is good practice. It allows each container to cool faster and helps prevent waste (from thawing too much food at once). Ideally food should freeze within 2 hours after being cooked.
- Store meats on the bottom shelf and on a plate if there is concern of leakage
- Separate fruits and vegetables. Gases from fruits may spoil vegetables faster or give an “off” taste.
- Freeze fresh meats if they won’t be consumed within two days
- Freeze food in smaller portions so you don’t thaw too much at once, frozen food should only be thawed once
- If freezing soups or sauces, only fill the containers up 3/4 to leave room for expansion