Acquiring good storage habits and keeping track of what’s in your refrigerator will save you money on your food bill.
My tips today have the same theme: Don’t mix up foods with different “eat-by” dates. Follow these guidelines to keep your food fresher.
For more information see my chart on storing leftovers, Is This Food Safe to Eat?
- New package, new spoon. When you open a new container of cottage cheese, use a fresh spoon too. Bits of older cheese on the original spoon could contaminate the fresh package.
- Keep spreads pure. Start with a clean spoon or knife for mayonnaise, peanut butter, and spreads. Remove what you need to a bowl or plate and take from there, so crumbs from the bread or sandwich meat could get into the mayonnaise. Don’t return contaminated leftovers to the original container. Transfer to a squeeze bottle if you can.
- Keep old and new foods separate. Let’s say you have leftover salad, but not enough for a whole meal. Put the leftovers out first and when they’re gone, serve the fresh salad. Only combine if you’re sure it will all get finished.
- Separate foods stored in different conditions. Foods prepared at the same time but stored at different temperatures should not be combined. For example, if you heated up a portion of leftover rice and kept the rest in the fridge, don’t combine the two afterward. The same applies to a bowl of cole-slaw that sat out for two hours. If it’s a small amount, I cover the serving bowl with a plate and put it out at the next meal. Otherwise I put it a separate, marked container to use up first.
- Take a clean container. Don’t put leftovers back into the same container until you’ve washed it. The remnants of the original food will contaminate the food you heated up.
- Food touched by saliva is contaminated, whether or not anyone is watching. Don’t mix with other food and use it up quickly, depending on whether the culprit was a family member and your own hygienic standards.
- Soup needs special treatment. Boil all the leftover soup in the storage container, even if you only need part of it. Then take what you need and return the rest to a clean jar. If the soup has cooled off, boil it again. Heat soups with milk to just under boiling.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling different foods.
- Wash utensils and surfaces used for raw meat, poultry and fish with soap and hot water. Don’t re-use marinades, although they can be cooked safely.
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