Food storage hacks for less waste

Did you know… Apples in a fruit bowl go off up to 9 times faster than in the fridge?

How food is stored can have a huge impact on how long it stays fresh – and how much of it ends up in the bin!

While a bit of waste here and there may not seem like much, it can quickly add up and costs a surprising amount. In the UK, the average family of four bins £730 worth of food a year! (1)

In this post, we take the guesswork out of food storage to help you waste less and pocket the difference. Here are our top tips…

Don’t overfill your fridge or freezer

It’s best not to fill your fridge to the brim as the air needs to circulate in order to keep food cold. You can free up fridge space by taking out items like eggs and sauces like ketchup and chilli sauce- or put items you wont eat for a few days in the freezer.

For the same reason, freezers shouldn’t be completely packed – though they shouldn’t be too empty either! Frozen items help keep the air cool so that the unit doesn’t need to work too hard. Aim for 70-85% full.

Keep your fridge cool

While fridges should be kept below 5°C, most people keep their fridge at 7°C, meaning that food goes off up to 3 days sooner! If you’re not sure how the numbers on the dial correspond to temperature, you can find out using this online tool.

Don’t leave the fridge door open

Each time you open the fridge door, cool air is lost and it can take hours to cool down again. It’s also a good idea to wait until hot food has cooled down completely before putting it in the fridge.

Store bread in the freezer

Bread is one of the most wasted foods in the UK, mostly because it’s not used in time. Keep it from going stale by storing it in the freezer. It can go straight into the toaster for breakfast and you can even make sandwiches directly from frozen bread – it will have defrosted by lunchtime!

Store fruits and vegetables separately

Many fruits, including apples, pears and bananas, produce a chemical that helps them to ripen, called ethylene. However, ethylene can also make other produce – such as vegetables – ripen and go off faster. For this reason, it’s best to keep your fruit and vegetables separately. Most vegetables can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, and fruits on another shelf.

How to store popular fruits and vegetables:
  • Salad greens, lettuces and carrots – in the fridge, wrapped in a paper towel and in an airtight container
  • Broccoli – sprinkled in water, wrapped in a paper towel and in a sealed bag in the fridge
  • Apples – in the fridge
  • Potatoes – in a cool, dry, dark place
Know when to throw

If food comes with a ‘best before’ date, you can use your judgment to decide when it’s gone off. ‘Best before’ dates are just about quality. The food won’t necessarily be harmful if eaten after this date but its texture or flavour may not be at its best. If there is no mould, rotting and the packaging isn’t damaged, it’s safe to eat.

How long foods can last for after the ‘best before’ date:
  • Baked goods: Up to 1 week
  • Loose fruit & vegetables: Up to 2 weeks
  • Crisps: Up to 1 month
  • Biscuits and cereal: Up to 6 months
  • Frozen foods: Always safe to eat, but for best flavour eat within a year
  • Food in tins & jars: Up to 3 years
  • Dried pasta and pulses: Up to 3 years

It’s best to be more cautious when it comes to foods with ‘use by’ dates – which include milk, meat and sandwiches – as these can make people ill if eaten after that date, even if they look and smell fine. 

Want more tips on avoiding food waste and growing your own food?

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Sources
  1. https://wrap.org.uk/sites/default/files/2021-10/food-%20surplus-and-%20waste-in-the-%20uk-key-facts-oct-21.pdf

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