Nine Tips to Help Food Last Longer

Leftover Chicken Biryani

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling different foods.
  9. 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.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

My Mother’s Re-Recycled Meat Soup

Food Processor Basics

Thoughts on Spoilage

Photo Credit: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


  1. These are good reminders, even for the more experienced.

  2. Why be so especially careful about soup? What makes it different?

    BTW, I tried your bread pudding recipe, and it went over ok. The best part was your tip of baking it in the microwave. Quick and easy and good. I tried it with my favorite rice pudding recipe, too, and it was much quicker and easier than baking it in the oven. And just as tasty.

  3. Orthonomics,
    Glad you enjoyed it.
    Liquids spoil faster.
    Glad the pudding came out well. It’s sometimes hard to know how much sugar to add. I love it when my tips work!

  4. A Fan in Boston says

    Could you please post the recipe for the chicken biryani? It looks yummy!

  5. Freeze youre portions in ziplock bags
    you can get twice as much in the freezer comprtment than with bowls


  1. […] water and energy saving ideas: Ten Tips for Cutting the Cost of Running Your Refrigerator Nine Tips to Help Your Food Last Longer Save Water and Energy In Your Washing Machine with Top Tips Ten Ways to Buy Less When You […]

%d bloggers like this: