Not only is food waste a major problem for the environment, but it also costs society a great deal of money every year. Over one-third of all food produced is wasted before it is even sold to consumers – this statistic is a shocking reality around the world, even in countries that suffer from high rates of unemployment and hunger.
The best way to combat food waste is to only buy the necessary quantity of groceries for your needs. These food items should then be stored properly to make them last as long as possible before spoiling or rotting. Here are some of the best tips for storing groceries at home.
Some groceries need air
Contrary to popular belief, air is not always bad for food items. In fact, some groceries need air to keep them fresh. This is the case with many foods that contain juice or liquid, such as fruits and some vegetables. Grapes, for example, are sold in breathable packaging with air holes that allow fresh air to keep mould from growing.
Groceries that are sold in breathable containers should be stored in these packages in the fridge. A good fridge will reduce the moisture levels in the surrounding air, further combatting the growth of mould. Strawberries, blueberries and most vegetables actually last longer when kept in a fridge and allowed to breathe. These groceries can be stored in paper bags, open containers or as whole food items.
Sometimes air can spoil food
There are numerous food products that are sold in sealed bags or wrapped in plastic film. These groceries tend to spoil in the presence of air. Pre-cut and washed lettuce is a great example – the leaves stay crisp and fresh for longer when stored in the sealed bags. Potato chips and cucumbers are other good examples. Once the products are opened, unwrapped and exposed to air, they can spoil within a number of days.
Dry foods, such as biscuits, bread rolls and sweets, should be consumed within a few days after opening their packaging. These foods tend to go stale when exposed to moisture in the air. A good rule of thumb is to note which groceries are sold in sealed packaging and which ones are displayed in the open – this will tell you the best way to store these products at home.
Meat products need to be kept cold
The best way to keep fish, poultry and meat from spoiling quickly is to store it in the fridge or freezer. For meat products that you’d like to store for long periods of time, place them in their original packaging in the freezer. For uneaten but cooked meats, store these in an airtight container in the fridge. The best way to store any meat product is to vacuum seal it. No air means better freshness when it comes to animal products.
Reducing food waste starts with buying only what you need. The more leftovers you have after cooking, the more likely they are to go to waste. The right packaging and storage conditions can help to keep food fresh for longer. Pay attention to the packaging on groceries as it can often tell you how best to keep the product at home.
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