Food Storage 101

Food Waste & Sustainability

Every year, one third (1.3 billion tons) of food produced globally is wasted. Furthermore, according to the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, food waste accounts for 3.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions--contributing to 8% of total greenhouse emissions around the globe. To put this in perspective, imagine going to a grocery store and buying three of everything. Three cartons of eggs, three oranges, and three boxes of cereal. Now take one of each and throw it away. (Woof) Food waste has become an issue that needs to be addressed by the masses. By knowing more about shelf life and the expected timelines that come with your foods, you can begin shopping smarter, prioritizing better, saving money, and reducing food waste!

How to Prolong Your Food’s Life

Keep in mind it’s best to store all types of food in resealable bags or airtight containers to prolong freshness.

Meat & Poultry

Keeping meat and poultry in original packaging, refrigerate. To freeze, slip original packaging into a resealable freezer bag. Bacon should be consumed or placed in freezer within seven days of opening.

Deli Meats & Smoked Fish

Meats and smoked fish should always be refrigerated. If unopened, these can be stored in the fridge for extended periods of time. Once package is opened, these typically stay fresh for up to five days.

Seafood

While leaving seafood in original packaging, refrigerate. If possible, place packaged seafood on a bowl of ice in the fridge. If not eaten immediately, freeze protein by placing original package in a resealable freezer bag.

Dairy

Refrigerate all dairy. For soft cheeses (Brie, Mozzarella), place in airtight containers once opened. Wrap semi-hard and hard cheeses in parchment paper and store in a resealable plastic bag.

Milk and yogurt can be frozen by placing into freezer containers or freezer-proof glass jars. Make sure to leave one inch of space at the top of the container to allow room for expansion. When thawing, stir yogurt/milk to redistribute solids.

Leftovers

All leftover food should be refrigerated within two hours after cooking. If refrigerating leftover canned food, store excess in an airtight container, as residual matter can cause cans to rust.

Fruits

When refrigerating fruits by storing unwashed in the original packaging. Make sure to store like fruits together (apples with apples).

If storing at room temperature, remove food from packaging and store alone. Keep in mind whole fruits will continue to ripen at room temperature, so after five days be sure to move ripened fruits to refrigerator. Tomatoes should always be kept at room temperature, as they’ll lose flavor quickly when stored in the fridge.

Vegetables

Store vegetables unwashed, in original packaging, in the refrigerator. Similar to fruits, store vegetables with like vegetables (carrots with carrots). Whenever storing at room temperature, remove food from packaging and store alone

Condiments

Condiments can be stored safely at room temperature for a couple of weeks after opened. To extend the shelf life and flavor, refrigerate for up to several months.

Coffee

Small amounts of coffee can be kept at room temperature, as long as its consumed quickly. For bulk amounts of coffee, it’s best to store in the freezer to keep optimal flavor.

Flours

Whole wheat flours should be refrigerated as the whole grains can easily spoil at room temperature. White flour can be stored at room temperature while kept in a resealable bag.

Nuts

Nuts are best stored in the freezer. Due to high fat content, nuts can lose flavor and freshness if kept at room temperature too long.

Bakery Items

Dairy-based cakes/pies should be kept in refrigerator. Bakery-style breads and baguettes should be kept in original packaging at room temperature.

Other Tips:

  • Always maintain proper refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Refrigerators should be kept between 35-40 degrees F, and the freezer kept at 0 degrees F or below.
  • Signs of spoiled food include rancid odor, slime on surface of meat, sour taste
  • In order to retain quality and reduce waste, but only amounts of the food you can store properly (and consume!). Maintain a clean refrigerator and freezer to avoid overcrowding which allows for cold air to properly circulate.