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Food storage 101: How to make your groceries last longer

Make the most out of the food you have with these simple tips

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Food storage 101: How to make your groceries last longer

Trying to make the food you buy last a bit longer at the moment and stretch out the time between shopping trips? Us too! But, did you know the way you store your shopping could mean that it’s expiring faster, resulting in throwing more of it away? Or that you might be binning food that’s still OK to eat?

We’ve put together a list of handy tips, including advice from WRAP (a charity organisation campaigning to cut down household food waste in the UK), to help you make sure that your food items don’t get left on the shelf…

KNOW YOUR LABELS 

Get to grips with what the different dates on food labels mean – and you’ll be less likely to throw food away. 

Use by - This is found on fresh foods that go off quickly, such as meat, fish and salads. This is the date you really need to take notice of. It’s fine to eat food up to the end of this date, but not after this time as it will be unsafe to eat – even if it looks or smells fine. 

Dairy products should be thrown away after their use-by date, but you can freeze milk, yoghurt, grated cheese and butter ahead of this date to avoid putting it in the bin. 

TOP TIP: If you have food that is coming up to the ‘use by’ date, why not cook it and freeze it instead? Always thaw frozen food in a fridge, use within 24 hours and cook until steaming hot all the way through.

Best before - According to WRAP, this date relates to the quality of food rather than its safety. Food will still be safe to eat for a short time after this date, although it may be past its best in terms of texture and taste. 

Most vegetables are labelled with 'Best before' rather than 'Use by' but make sure to check the individual packaging just in case. If you do find yourself with a lot of veg that's past it's best – get creative! Make up a batch of soup; add squishy tomatoes to pasta sauces; cook mushrooms, then freeze to add to stews; add broccoli stems to stir-fries along with the florets; use vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock or bake in the oven to make homemade vegetable crisps.

WHERE TO STORE IT

Foods that belong in the fridge – apples, avocados (if already ripe), citrus fruits, plums and peaches, most other fruit and veg, eggs, fish, meat, fresh herbs, cheese, fresh or opened sauces, salads and yoghurt.

Foods that are better stored in the cupboard– bananas, bread, onions, potatoes sweet potatoes, whole butternut squash, grains, cereals, baked goods, oil and spices.

HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR FRIDGE 

Top and middle shelves – these should be reserved for ready-to-eat foods such as dairy products (cheese and yogurts), cooked meats and other packaged foods. Once opened, foods like cheese and ham keep better if they’re well wrapped. Re-close the pack, then wrap in clingfilm or foil, or put in an airtight container.

Bottom shelves – place any raw meat, poultry and fish here. These must always be covered and kept in sealed containers.

Salad drawer – a.k.a the best place to keep salad, veg and fruit fresh and crisp. 

TOP TIP: To keep food fresh for longer, your fridge needs to be set to under 5°C. The average UK fridge is set to 7°C which is too high for most foods and will cause them to 'go off' quicker. Dialling it down to somewhere between 0-5°C has the potential to keep your food fresh for an extra three days.

Looking for more foodie tips? Click here for our 11 best food-saving hacks