Hate wasting food? Want your meal prep efforts to last longer and taste better? Perfectly good produce, dairy and meat can quickly spoil when not stored properly – and yes, there’s an art to storing your meal prep to help it stay fresher for longer. We’ve got a bunch of tips and tricks to help you better organise and store your food so they’ll live their best and freshest life. Check it out below.
Hacks to Keep Food Fresh for Longer
|Veggies & Fruit|
1. Start Fresh (& don’t wash veg until you use them!)
Choosing the freshest fruit, veggies and meat is the first step to getting the longest storage life in your kitchen. If they already come wrapped in plastic, don’t remove this plastic until it’s time to eat.
Also, don’t wash your veggies before storing them in the fridge as condensation can quickly wilt and spoil perfectly good veg. Also, keeping produce in the crisper should help protect it, but even here, the cold air can suck moisture out of veggies, so it’s best to keep them in something like a plastic bag.
2. Put Paper Towels in Crisper for Fruit & Veg
Another way to keep fruit and veg fresh is lining your crisper with paper towels to absorb excess condensation the veggies generate as they chill. Excess moisture can make your fresh foods wilt and much faster, so the paper keeps them fresher for longer, AND it keeps your fridge cleaner.
3. Put an Apple in With Your Potatoes
Want to keep your potatoes fresher longer? Put an apple in the bag. Apples produce ethylene gas, which keeps potatoes fresher and firmer, and ready for jacket-and-mash duties for a few more weeks.
4. Wash Berries in Vinegar
Berries are an excellent source of vitamins and a tasty addition to your daily meals. However, they often go mouldy and squishy pretty quickly. You can extend their life by giving them a bath in 1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water before you put them in the fridge – this kills the mould spores and bacteria that turn them fuzzy. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly before storing. Try storing them in a glass jar as well to keep them fresher for longer.
5. Ice Your Greens
If your lettuce leaves have gone a bit limp, you can rehydrate and refresh your leaves by separating them and tossing them into a sinkful of iced water for anywhere from 5-30 mins and saying hello to crunchy, fresh greens!
6. Not Everything Goes in the Fridge
Fruits that go soft and sweet when they ripen are generally best kept in a bowl until they are ripe. This includes stone fruit, pears, apple and kiwifruit — but also tomatoes and avocado. Putting them in the fridge will interrupt their ripening and end up affecting their taste, texture and colour.
8. Use the Right Containers & Storage Methods
Liquids or food containing liquid can contribute to moisture forming inside your containers. Meanwhile, foods like lettuce and fruit release moisture inside containers as they cool down in the fridge and moisture is the number one reason for food to spoil. To avoid this, wrap fruit and veg paper towels and always store food in sealed, refrigerator-safe and moisture-proof containers or wraps.
8. Mind the Date
The ‘use by’ date tells us when food is safe to eat, but the ‘best before’ labels can be a bit trickier. ‘Best before’ means it may still be okay to eat after that date, depending on how it’s been stored, whether it has been opened and by doing a quick ‘sniff test’.
Keeping Food Fresh in Fridge, Freezer, & Pantry
- Make sure your fridge temperature is between 3 – 4 degrees Celsius and check the door seals are working.
- Rotate food by moving the oldest items to the front of the fridge and eat as a priority
- Keep food covered, stored and sealed
- Wait for food to stop steaming before putting it away
- Set temperature to -18 degrees Celsius and check the door seals are working.
- Freeze food in sealed containers, wrap it in foil or use reusable zip lock bags to avoid freezer burn and contamination.
- Label containers with the date and store food in single or family size portions, so you only need to defrost what you need.
- Temp should be between 10 – 21 degrees Celsius
- Keep pantry items away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the oven,
- Use airtight containers for storing rice, flour, cereal, grains, nuts, sugar and pasta.
- Keep bread at room temperature rather than in the fridge.
- Store jam, tomato products, long-life milks, sauces and cans in the pantry until opened – then store in the fridge.
- Clean shelves and rotating foods in your pantry often to reduce pests / avoid wasting food
The Benefits of Keeping Food Fresh
- Save money: By keeping food fresher for longer, you’re saving money by using everything you have before needing to spend money on more food.
- Reduce waste: Food is expensive and can quickly spoil, so using effective storage techniques to keep it fresher for longer will help you cut down on food waste.
- Maintain quality & flavour of meals: Proper storage techniques keep food not only lasting longer, but can also enhance the quality and flavour of meals.
Tips to Reduce Food Waste
- Take stock of what you have & cook with that before you buy more food
- Check your fridge temperature – it should be 3–4 degrees Celisus but many people’s fridges are warmer than they should be.
- Move older items to the front of the fridge so you are more likely to use them.
- Keep fruit in a bowl on the bench to make the food more visible and more likely to get eaten.
- Don’t fall for two-for-one deals – make sure you’ll be able to use whatever you buy before it goes off.
- Freeze cooked veggies and pureed fruit for later use. Milk and bread, two commonly wasted food products, can also be frozen.
Keeping Food Fresh Resources
- Produce facts sheets
- Guide to storing fresh produce
- Food safety & storage guide
- Keep it fresh action card
- Food safety information
Keep Reading Meal Prepping Tips:
- How to plan meals in advance
- How to create a grocery list
- How to incorporate variety into your meals