Rethink Your Food Storage
Seven ways to make your food last and get your fridge and pantry in order.
Photo by: Andrew McCaul
You don’t need a news report to tell you that the cost of food is up: You notice it on every grocery trip, and feel a guilty twinge when tossing something that’s gone bad. Here, tips to manage your food inventory — and waste (and spend!) less.
1. Clear Up the Cupboard
Stop tossing your cookies (and crackers): Store open packs properly
- Don’t just roll and go
For stay-crisp cereal and chips, try Copco Bag Caps ($6 and up, copco.com), which clip onto bags for a tight seal — and easier pouring
- Swap your stock
Move older cans to the front (so they’ll be used first) when unpacking new ones
2. Learn These Cold Truths
Never put dairy or eggs in the refrigerator door, where temps are highest. Put leftovers near the front so you’ll remember to eat them within four days.
The only place food will stay safe indefinitely is in the freezer; just pop in eats while still fresh. To pack: Fill containers nearly to the top; tightly wrap items in plastic or, for zip-seal bags, squeeze out the air.
3. Stop Guessing
Fact: You can’t tell if food is spoiled solely by its look or scent (but throw away ASAP if either is funky). For a when-to-toss guide, check out stilltasty.com, which pulls info from the FDA and other food-safety sources.
4. Reuse by the Rules
Not all containers are food-safe a second time.
- Glass jars clean easily for refilling with sauces, salad dressings, soups, and more
- Margarine/dairy tubs and takeout containers aren’t dishwasher-safe and can even degrade if hand-washed
- Zip-seal plastic bags: While your mom might have done the old rinse-and-reuse trick, it’s not a good idea, food-safety-wise. These hard-to-clean bags can harbor bacteria
5. End Container Chaos!
When storing empties, nest smaller ones inside big ones. Slide lids vertically alongside the stack, or stash them upright in a mail sorter.
To make hunting easier, use a baking pan with sides as a slide-out tray in your cabinet.
6. Reserve Judgment
Home vacuum sealing helps keep food fresh by taking out air, the main culprit in staleness and freezer burn. The process — typically using plastic bags and an appliance that sucks out the air — is really only worth the trouble and cost if you buy in bulk and freeze perishables or store dry goods for months (not weeks). Our GHRI pick: Debbie Meyer/Reynolds Handi-Vac ($25; hsn.com).
7. Square It Away
Consider shape the next time you buy storage bowls: Ones with corners maximize shelf space.