We throw away around 3 million tonnes of food and drink every year before we even get round to cooking or serving it. Storing food in the right way helps keep it fresh and tasty for longer and means less of the food we buy goes off and gets thrown away. Most packs now have storage information on the front of the pack, rather than the back, making it even easier to spot. There are loads of guides online explaining how to freeze all sorts of food items.
Use your fridge
You can store most of your fruit & veg in the fridge to make them last longer. Loosely wrapped apples can last an extra 2 weeks in the fridge rather than the fruit bowl. If you don’t like cold fruit take it out the night before if you’re taking them in your lunch box.
Make sure the fridge thermostat is set at 5°c
Fresh fruit and vegetables need to breathe – don’t store them in sealed containers/bags
Add a small bit of kitchen roll to the open bag of fresh herbs or salad as it absorbs extra moisture and gives you a few more days (or put them in an airtight plastic box lined with kitchen roll to make to last even longer)
Leftovers can be kept up to two days in the fridge – cover with a lid or with cling film. Foods with a high fat content, such as meat and cheese, need to be wrapped well, otherwise they will dry out
If you are not going to use the food or drink before the use by date…freeze it
keep a shelf in your fridge for items that will go past their use by date in the next few days and make sure it’s at eye level they’re going to be harder to forget
NOT in the fridge - pineapples and bananas (just keep them cool place instead); potatoes and onions (keep in a cool and dark place); Bread will go stale more quickly (freeze instead and you can toast from frozen)
Use your freezer
It is safe to freeze almost any food; if the food has a use by date, freeze it before that date (you can freeze food on the ‘use by’ date even if it’s been in the fridge for the last week). Although food can be safely stored for a very long time, the quality of the food deteriorates after three months, so it is best to try to eat frozen food within three months of freezing it.
Always label foods that you have stored in the freezer with their contents and the date that you freeze them, so you can prioritise
Freeze foods in portions, as it defrosts quicker and you have the right amount of food you need to make the meal
Keep a freezer list: note down items as you put them in the freezer and cross them off as you take them out – handy, as you know what you need when you go food shopping
- All sorts of things can be frozen – have you tried eggs, milk, cheese, pesto and potatoes
Grate hard cheeses and freeze in portions and use straight from frozen on pizzas, omelettes and pasta bakes
Freeze leftover cake in slices and defrost a slice of a tasty treat
Cut lemon and lime into slices and freeze on a baking tray, once they’ve frozen transfer them into a plastic bag/container so whenever you want to add one to a drink you can dip it into the freezer.
Parboil potatoes (for 5 minutes), cool and freeze them for later. To use, just thaw them overnight in the fridge and roast as normal
Freeze eggs before the best before date – just crack them first, then beat and freeze or separate the whites and yolks and freeze individually. Defrost in the fridge and once defrosted, use like fresh eggs and within 24 hours of defrosting
Freeze over-ripe bananas – peel, cut into three and freeze. Blend from frozen to make breakfast smoothies, or defrost and mash to add to cake, bread etc
Freeze leftover milk in ice cube trays – a handy tip if you are leaving on holiday so you’ll have milk in the house when you return
Freeze leftover wine, beer or cider in ice cube trays – to use later when making stews, sauces, or to add to the mince when making bolognaise
Use up leftovers safely
Always cool leftovers as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes). Don’t put hot food straight into the fridge as it warms up your fridge and takes more energy to cool it down again.
Cool it down by:
Putting the leftovers into individual portions in air tight containers (plastic takeaway containers or bought Tupperware will do)
Immerse the container in cold water, the water could get into the container but that’s ok, just drain it out.
Put the leftovers (otherwise known as lunch or dinner tomorrow) in the fridge. You could also freeze it – just remember to label it if you’re putting it in the freezer.
Reheat leftovers thoroughly to get them tasting really good.
Take your leftovers from the fridge and heat it up in the microwave or saucepan, make sure it’s piping hot all the way through before eating. Heating to 70oC (the food, that is) for 2 minutes should be enough. Check it’s hot and eat!
If you’re defrosting something, try to take it out of the freezer the day before and defrost for 24 hours in the fridge (don’t leave it on the side). You could also defrost in the microwave, but make sure it’s completely thawed, as some microwaves can cook parts of the meal as it defrosts other bits.
Once you’ve defrosted your leftovers, you shouldn’t re-freeze them.