In Australia, food waste can make up half of the contents of the average waste bin. This not only contributes to unnecessary landfill waste but also squanders the valuable resources used to produce and transport that food.
In a country where fresh produce is abundant, our guide to smart food storage will help you save money and minimise waste, and contribute to a more sustainable Australia. From organising your pantry to mastering the art of freezing, these tips are essential for every Aussie household. Let's make a difference this National Recycling Week, one meal at a time.
Properly store fresh produce: Fruits and vegetables are a staple in Australian diets, and keeping them fresh for as long as possible is crucial. To achieve this, store your fresh produce in the right conditions. Some tips include:
Use produce drawers: Most refrigerators have separate drawers for fruits and vegetables. Utilize these to maintain proper humidity levels.
Keep some items out: Not all fruits and veggies belong in the fridge. Items like tomatoes, potatoes, and onions should be stored at room temperature. Fridge storage also affects the taste, texture and colour produced in the natural ripening process so it’s best to only add other produce to the fridge when it is ripe.
Maintain good fridge practices: Knowing what should be kept in the fridge is important, but so is knowing how to best keep those items in the fridge. Keeping herbs wrapped in damp cloths or kitchen towel is a great way to extend their shelf life and milk and other perishable liquids are actually best kept on the inner shelves of the fridge (where it is cooler) rather than the fridge door.
Use airtight containers: For cut fruits and veggies, store them in airtight containers to prevent moisture loss and keep them fresh.
Label and date leftovers: In Australia, we're often encouraged to cook in batches to save time. However, it's easy to lose track of when these leftovers were made. To avoid food waste, label and date your containers to ensure you use them within a reasonable timeframe.
Use the FIFO method: FIFO stands for "First In, First Out." When stocking your pantry or fridge, put newer items behind older ones. This ensures that older items are used before they expire. Keep an eye on expiration dates and consume items close to expiry first.
Invest in quality storage containers: Investing in high-quality storage containers can help keep your food fresher for longer. Look for airtight containers that are designed for food storage. Glass containers are a great option as you can easily see what's inside them, they don't absorb odours and are easy to clean.
Freeze smartly: Freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of various food items, especially in a hot Australian climate. Here are some tips:
Use freezer-friendly packaging: Wrap foods in airtight containers or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
Portion control: Divide large quantities into smaller portions to prevent thawing and refreezing, which can affect quality.
Label frozen items: Use labels to keep track of what's in your freezer, including dates of freezing.
Know what can be cooked right away: Foods commonly kept in the fridge that actually lasts longer in the freezer and can be cooked right away from being frozen include bread, bacon, berries, cooked rice and filled pastas (such as ravioli). Just remember to portion control so you can use only what you need.
Understand "Best Before" vs. "Use By" dates: It's essential to differentiate between "Best Before" and "Use By" dates on food products. "Best Before" dates indicate the date until which the product is at its best quality, while "Use By" dates indicate when the product may no longer be safe to consume. Use your judgment, and don't be too quick to throw away items that have passed their "Best Before" date if they still look and smell fine.
In conclusion, reducing food waste is a shared responsibility for all Australians. By adopting these smart food storage tips, you can play your part in conserving resources, saving money, and enjoying fresh and delicious meals while minimizing waste. In the spirit National Recycling Week, let's make a collective effort to reduce food waste at home.
Keep on the lookout as we release more tips to reduce waste and improve your recycling habits in the lead up to National Recycling Week, and find out how you can get involved at nationalrecyclingweek.com.au.