On making each trip to the supermarket count, extending the shelf life of your produce and reducing food-related waste
Our day-to-day will never quite be the same—simple errands like grocery shopping included. In light of all the lifestyle changes required in the time of COVID-19, making each trip out of the house has become crucial.
When it comes to kitchen inventory (considering that groceries are the most frequently purchased essentials), it isn’t enough to stay fully stocked. Ensuring that resources are used thoughtfully is equally important: that food doesn’t go to waste, that you never have to toss anything out before you truly have to and that you don’t have to shell out more money than you need to.
With this in mind, it’s time to review the often-overlooked kitchen basics. Because how you organize your fridge, for example, can make all the difference in terms of freshness. (Several produce items can be stored with others, while some should absolutely be stored separately.) The handy rundown below will cover this and more. Get ready to scroll through to learn how to make your groceries last longer.
Fruits and Vegetables
Different fruits and veggies require different storage needs. Keeping some of them together could spell disaster, causing one or the other to ripen quicker and then spoil. This has a lot to do with natural gases created by fresh food items over time, the amount of moisture they contain and each item’s unique ripening process. Produce items that should be stored separately at all costs include: apples, pears, avocados, mangoes, melons, onions and tomatoes. Just as well and as a rule, once you spot a rotten item in the bunch, take it away immediately so it doesn’t spoil everything else.
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When milk goes bad, there’s very little you can do to salvage it. So it’s important to think ahead when it comes to this particular dairy item. One tip is to store milk cartons in the coolest portion of the fridge: the back end of the lowest shelf. When it comes to cheese you’ve taken a slice out of, lubricate corners with a bit of butter to keep the entire block from drying out. Then, wrap the cheese in wax paper and store it in a resealable, airtight bag such as a Ziploc.
Talk about low maintenance: canned goods are the last thing you have to worry about when it comes to groceries. Storing items that take years to perish is as simple as finding a cool and dry place like a cupboard or a pantry shelf. The important thing is to keep canned goods away from direct sunlight as well as appliances that emit heat. Once opened, never leave leftovers sitting inside and definitely never just pop the can into the refrigerator. Remove remaining food items from the tin can, preserving even the liquids or brine, and move this into a clear, airtight container (glass or plastic should be fine). Only then can you store this in the fridge.
Now that breadmaking seems to be on everybody’s quarantine to-do list, let’s talk about keeping it fresh. The one sure-fire way to extend the shelf life of bread is to pop it in the freezer (yes, the freezer). Regardless of it being sliced or kept as a whole loaf, simply wrap the bread tightly in a resealable airtight plastic bag and place this in the freezer. Take your time to defrost the loaf or slices by moving this into the refrigerator 6 to 12 hours before toasting for your next meal to get the freshness and crispness just right. The low-maintenance take on bread storage is to place it in an airtight bread box and store this in a cool, dry place away from sunlight like a cupboard or even a kitchen drawer.
When it comes to keeping meat fresh, the less time it spends in the freezer, the better. Considering the long haul, however, know that it is okay to store cuts of meat in the freezer for up to a year. For ground meat, it’s up to six months. Keep in mind that what truly takes away the quality and integrity of raw meat is rapid freezing and thawing and storing and then repeating this loop. On that note, you should never shortcut the defrosting process with a microwave. Only take out and thaw what you intend on cooking. (This is why planning meals ahead is also crucial.)
Now that you and your family are all set at home, here’s to looking out for one another in the time of COVID-19. Support the health workers braving the frontlines by donating your Globe Rewards points. Just follow these steps:
Launch the app and tap “Donate” on the main dashboard.
Select “PGH100” and tap “Redeem.”
Your donation will help provide much-needed testing kits, alcohol and complete sets of personal protective equipment to Filipino frontliners.