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Sustainability: Tips for Food Storage

October 25, 2017

By Erin Gunter, MS

As a continuation from last week’s blog post, I would like to share some additional tips from Corporate Chef Cate Smith about food storage and optimum shelf life. The next time you are getting ready to head out to the store or farmers market, or you are rearranging items in the refrigerator, consider the following suggestions.

First in, First Out

Create a system for storing items after you purchase them at the store or farmers market. Rotate food by placing newer items at the back of the refrigerator and older items at the front. Having less recently purchased foods more easily accessible, you are more likely to eat them than unnecessarily throw them away.

Take Inventory

Put a dry erase board (or even a piece of paper) on the front of your fridge so that you can take notes about the items within the refrigerator. On this board you can keep a list of the items in the fridge that need to be eaten, and by when. In addition, you can strike through items as you use them so you know what you need to purchase the next time you are out shopping.

Temperature and Storage

Make sure when you are putting items in the refrigerator that you are storing the food at the optimal temperature and in ideal locations. Think about the following when arranging items in your refrigerator so it does not have to work too hard to keep foods fresh and cooled properly:

  • Door of the refrigerator: sauces, bottles, and it can be used to defrost items from the freezer
  • Upper shelves: milk, juices, ice tea, or items not to be chilled too cold
  • Middle shelves: fish, items marked “refrigerate after opening,” dips, tomato sauce, cakes, deli meats, cheese, yogurt, and eggs
  • Lower shelves: leftover meats, hard vegetables, smoked fish
  • Bottom drawers: fruits, vegetables, lettuces, and vacuum sealed containers

Optimize Shelf Life of Herbs

When storing herbs in the refrigerator, you can follow these simple steps so they will last for 2 weeks or longer:

  • Snip off the bottom of the stems
  • Make sure the leaves are completely dry; hold off rinsing them until you are about to use them
  • Partly fill a jar or glass with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water
  • If you are storing herbs in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag or (for cilantro) wrap in moist paper towel
  • Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor

Properly Store Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits are best stored in a different location than vegetables, whether in the refrigerator and on your counter. Fruits that give off a high level of ethylene, such as bananas, can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables.

  • Vegetables: Pack vegetables loosely in the refrigerator and make sure any storage bags have holes to allow for air flow. Before storing, remove ties and rubber bands and trim any leafy ends. If washing greens ahead of time, make sure to dry completely and layer with paper towels to absorb any remaining moisture.
  • Fruits: Non-cherry stone fruits, avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, melons, apples, and pears will continue to ripen if left sitting out on a counter top. Fruits like grapes, all citrus, and berries will only deteriorate and should be refrigerated.

Monitor Use and Waste

Take time to write down every food item that you have thrown away to determine what items you waste on a regular basis. For example, if you regularly only eat half a loaf of bread before it spoils, you can note this. The next time you purchase bread, you might immediately put half in the freezer to avoid wasting it.

Have an Encore Night

One way to make sure not to waste food is to designate one or more nights during the week to have an encore of a previous meal. In addition, you could make sure to use every edible part of your food items. Stems, leaves and the like can be included when making stocks, smoothies, casseroles, and soup.

Consider Registering For a Changing From Within Course

This 8-week course will help you learn to bring close attention to your mind, body, behaviors and patterns related to eating. You will explore the many variables that drive our habits—including stress, unhappiness, and even unconscious beliefs—and develop a road map for sustainable change.

The group support and personal mindfulness skills you will develop in this program can provide a pathway to achieve a healthy weight that can be maintained for a lifetime. Loaded with concrete meditation exercises, behavioral techniques, nutrition advice, and meal-planning charts, this course provides the tools to avoid cravings, stop emotional overeating, and figure out when you are full.

Lasting weight loss and healthy living begin in the mind. Are your ready to learn how to re-program your body, make healthy choices, lose weight, and keep it off for life? Click here to learn more about Click here to learn more about Changing From Within.

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