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How to keep food fresh longer

Chopping board illustrating how to keep food fresher longer and avoid food waste

In an attempt to avoid trips to the supermarket, I’ve signed up for a fruit and veggie box delivery. Delivery day (Tuesday) is quickly becoming the highlight of the week. I used to get a fruit and veggie box years ago, but found it challenging to make the best use of it and ended up wasting a fair bit. This time, I want to do better.

For the last few years, I’ve focused on reducing my food waste. This includes keeping a food waste diary, which I post as part of #foodwastefriday on Instagram. Over the years, I’ve shared lots of ideas on how to make food last longer and reduce waste. I’ve gone through my archives and put together some of my most popular tips.

Store it right

Fresh food will last much longer if you store it correctly. Bendy carrots and sagging celery are now a thing of the past as I store them in an air-tight container lined with a paper towel. I’ve also learnt to keep onions separate from potatoes to stop the onions sprouting – and that you can slow the ripening of bananas by separating them from the bunch.

If you’ve got something you aren’t going to eat straight away, check out Love Food Hate Waste’s comprehensive guide to food storage.

You can freeze almost anything

Some things need a little prep and others you can’t use exactly the same way you could if you hadn’t frozen them, but you can freeze nearly all food.
Like milk …… (don’t worry, it’s supposed to turn yellow!)

Or tomato paste …

Or leftover coconut milk and spinach. These are excellent for when a recipe calls for a smaller quantity than the size it is sold in. Bits and bobs currently in my freezer include creamed corn, coconut milk, broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet, apricots and (formerly) canned tomatoes.

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It’s Friday and I’ve managed to get my act together to do a post – yay. So it has been about a month and I haven’t written down what we wasted, but it has been minimal. Probably a couple of pieces of fruit. On my Use It Up Shelf are two kiwifruit that are looking a bit winking, half an onion and some containers of stock that need to be transferred to the freezer. The freezer is so handy for preserving food. While I’m very much a fan of using what you have and not buying anything special, I did buy this very handy container from @munchcupboard. (Lid not shown 😂) It’s sold as a baby food tray, but I use it for freezing leftover bits and pieces – shown here coconut milk, kale and the remnants of tomato paste. It’s flexible so it is really easy to get the frozen stuff out. Each little pod holds a few tablespoons. I’ve used this constantly for at least a couple of years and it’s still going strong. How’s your food waste situation? Any novel ideas for using up kiwifruit? Personally, I’m not a fan and I’m thinking they may be getting too wrinkly for my son and husband to want to touch so I will need to transform them somehow. . . . . . . #slownotlazy #foodwastefriday #reducefoodwaste #zerowaste #zerowastenz #hatefoodwaste #lovefoodhatewaste #lovefoodhatewastenz #foodwaste #sustainableliving #littlethings #spoiledrotten #compleating #foodwasterevolution #savemoneylivebetter #reducefoodwaste

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When it comes to expiry dates, use your judgement

When it comes to food, there’s a big difference between the use-by date and the best-before date. The use-by date is the serious one, it relates it food safety. Never eat anything past it’s use-by date. But the best-before date is just a guideline. It is more about the quality of the food – it may not be at its tastiest, but it’s not going to make you sick. If it still looks, smells and tastes okay, it’s okay.

This even applies to things like milk …

Pantry items have very long shelf lives. Most things they can be years past their best-before date, and as long as they’ve not been opened, still be perfectly good to eat.

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Time for a Food Waste Friday check-in. How was your food waste situation this week? I’ve had a shocker. I wasted a cooked chicken breast and six mandarins. I’d put the mandarins in the fridge to stop them going mouldy in the heat and promptly forgot about them. They shrivelled in the fridge and were inedible. I did try! One way to prevent waste is to understand “expiry” dates on food. There’s a big difference between a Best Before date and a Use By date. I cringe when I hear of people decluttering their pantry and throwing away all the “expired” food. If it’s something you keep in the pantry, the date on it is mostly likely a Best Before date. This is guideline based around food quality, rather than food safety. It doesn’t mean the food isn’t safe to eat, it just may not be as fresh tasting. It’s safe to eat something stale (as opposed to rotten or mouldy), just not always pleasant. Recently, I found this pack of curry paste in the pantry with a Best Before date from 2014. It was a nice spicy vindaloo and tasted great. . . . . . . . #foodwastefriday #bestbeforedate #reducefoodwaste #lesswaste #zerowaste #zerowastehabits #zerowastegoals #zerowastenz #foodwastewarriors #lowimpactmovement #nofoodwaste #hatefoodwaste #lovefoodhatewaste #lovefoodhatewastenz #foodwaste #fightfoodwaste #nofoodwastechallenge #sustainableliving #wastefree #foodwastegirl #wastefreesummer

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Everyone needs to know the egg test

I learnt this tip at school – it’s a bit random but very useful. Never second guess whether your eggs are fresh or not, just dunk them in a glass of water:

  • If they sink flat to the bottom, they’re fresh
  • If they rest on the bottom, but point upwards, they’re good but you need to use them soon
  • If they float to the top, they’re bad.

What’s your best tip for keeping food fresh longer and avoiding waste?

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