Every once in a while (or maybe more often than you’d like to admit) you discover a pungent smell coming from the refrigerator, only to find a once-perfectly-good-to-eat food item that has gone rancid. If you find yourself constantly throwing out food-gone-bad then take note of these 5 tips to decrease food waste, and hopefully you’ll start to see less food meeting the bottom of your garbage bin and more food on your dinner plate.
1. Label everything you put into the fridge with the date you bought them.
Just slap on a piece of masking tape and quickly write down the date. This will help keep you aware of how long food items have been in the fridge – AKA no more sniffing (and re-sniffing) the milk carton; if it’s been over a week since the date on the label, throw it out.
2. Mold doesn’t necessarily mean throw it all out.
If there’s mold on your berries, simply throw the moldy berries out. Same goes for cheese. Just because parts of the product have started to go bad doesn’t mean that the rest is tarnished. Getting rid of the modly pieces will help keep the other pieces staying fresh longer.
3. Airtight storage is key.
When it comes to meats and leftover food , always pack your items in airtight containers, or something that completely keeps out air. Ziplock bags are another great option. Cut up meat so that it fits snug into smaller, compact containers. By eliminating as much air as you can from surrounding the food, the longer it is likely to stay fresh.
4. Don’t leave food in room temperature for too long.
Once food meets room temperature, harmful bacteria multiplies at a much quicker pace. Basically, the one thing you should remember in order to decrease food waste is to make sure you place your food into the fridge ASAP – the longer it hangs out outside, the quicker it’s going to go bad (this applies to food you just brought home from the grocery store, too – don’t put it off).
5. Don’t confuse “sell by” with expiration.
The “sell by” date is simply for the grocery stores to know how long they should store the item on the shelf. It’s a better indicator of quality – how fresh a product is. This does not immediately mean that the food has gone bad or is expired. IF there is a “use by” date, this is a better representation of when you should actually consume the food by.
Here’s a great infographic from realsimple.com to help you get a better idea on how long you can keep certain items in the fridge and ultimately decrease food waste!