Why be concerned about food storage and food waste?
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), if food waste was a country it would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases. In addition, an estimated 30% of the food we produce, about 1.8 billion tonnes, is wasted annually. To put a price tag on that, it would be in the area of $1.7 trillion each year or around $3,200 per household.
Learn “the value of food.” We need to develop a more respectful relationship with food. If we value it more we will respect its worth and therefore will treat it with the kindness all our food truly deserves.
Sally Williams, Sustainable Sally
Food waste has a substantial impact on both the planet and your wallet, Taking any steps you can to reduce your household’s impact is something we should all strive to do every day. To help you lower your wastage here’s a few food storage tips and waste avoidance hacks we hope you find useful and inspire you to look for solutions to your specific needs.
Table of Contents:
- Fruit and Veggie Storage
- Dairy Products Storage
- Food Basics Storage
- Compost Avoidance Hacks
- Planning Ahead
Food Storage Tips To Reduce Waste
Fruit and Veggie Storage
- Store carrots submerged in water. This will keep them crispy, simply change the water every 2-4 days. This technique also works for reviving limp carrots (and celery), just swap out the water every 2 days. Be sure to make further use of the used water by putting it on your houseplants.
- Greens like spinach and lettuce can be kept fresh by giving them a good wash and then dry completely with a clean tea towel. Place them in an airtight container and you will find they stay crisper for far longer.
- Freezing oranges, lemons and limes means you’ll always have fresh citrus on hand. To freeze them whole, place them in a reusable freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. To thaw, microwave for a few seconds or place the fruit in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also peel and slice into quarters and then freeze in a reusable food storage bag with as much air removed as possible. You can leave on the benchtop to thaw or place the entire bag into cold water.
- Stem veggies like celery, broccoli and asparagus can be treated like cut flowers. Simply chop about one inch off the base when you get them home and put them in a jar of water in the fridge.
Dairy Products Storage
- Let your cheese breathe and store it properly. Simply wrap your cheese in parchment or wax paper and keep in the vegetable drawer. Hard cheese is generally safe to eat for six weeks, in between cheese for two to three weeks and soft cheese within two weeks.
Keep the fridge temperature at 4°C and don’t overload your fridge so the cold air can circulate. Move food that needs using up first to the front of the fridge.
- To keep farm-fresh eggs fresh, you can seperate the yolks and whites into an ice cube tray and freeze. For optimal freshness place the trays in an airtight container and cover the top of the yolks with water (prevents the yolk from drying out) and remember to remove the water before cooking. Egg whites store quite a bit better than egg yolks when frozen, and last considerably longer, but a 2 month rule is good for both.
- Store ice cream in the main part of the freezer. Do not store ice cream in the freezer door, where ice cream can be subject to more fluctuating temperatures since the door is repeatedly open and shut.
Food Basics Storage
- Fresh bread should never be stored in the fridge as this more moist environment can encourage bacteria to form resulting in mold. Most fresh bakery bread is preservative free so your loaf will likely only last 2-3 days stored on your bench top. To preserve your bread for longer, freeze your bread in a freezer-safe reusable bread bag when it is cool but fresh.
- An open jar of peanut butter can be stored in the pantry for up to three months. Any longer than that and you should store it in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If the oil in your peanut butter starts to seperate, simply store it upside down (make sure the lid is on tight!) and let the oil work through the jar on its own. Reverse as needed.
- When storing things like sauces and soups in the freezer, only fill the container three-quarters to allow room for expansion. Store these in small quantities so the food freezes more quickly, which gives it a fresher taste.
- For commercially packaged cereal, fold the top of the cereal bag and seal it with a clip. Store the bag of cereal in a cool cupboard for up to a week. For longer storage, or to store bulk cereal, place the cereal in an air tight container. Place a couple bay leaves at the top to keep the crawlies away (also works well for other stored pantry foods).
Food Hacks To Avoid Adding To The Compost Pile
- Make chips out of your organic apple, carrot and potato peels. There are recipes you can easily find which can add some interesting taste twists for more customized snack treats.
- Older bananas can be put straight in the freezer whole to use for baking. For smoothies you can peel and chop bananas into chunks, place onto a tray and freeze. Once frozen simply pop them into a jar or or other airtight container and store in the freezer. You can do this with other older fruit such as berries and peaches to prevent the fruit from clumping together.
Turn half-eaten dips into salad dressings. Just thin your dip out with some lemon juice or vinegar.
- Collect your leftover vegetable scraps (including peelings, stalks, and leaves) in a large reusable freezer bag to turn into a stock. Once you have enough simply put them in your crock pot along with some herbs and spices. Onions, carrots, celery, and garlic are key ingredients. Things like bell peppers, green onions, and mushrooms contribute additional flavors.
Plan Ahead To Avoid Food Waste
Planning meals is one of the best ways to reduce food waste. Not only does it enable you to use ingredients you have on hand, it makes shopping more efficient. Creating a list of meals can also help ensure that leftovers are used in subsequent meals. Proper food storage goes hand in hand, the better you store your food, the less you will waste.
When food is wasted, so too is the land, water, labor, energy and other inputs that are used. Those food components include producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of the discarded food. There is also the simple fact that reducing food waste saves you money.
Before you throw anything ‘away’, just think – ‘What would my grandmother have done with this?’
Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Plastic Free July
Share with us your food storage tips and the ways you reduce your food wastage footprint. Joint efforts make for a bigger impact!