If you’re like us, then you can’t wait for the rain to finally pass so you can get started on your annual “spring cleaning” tasks. Word to the wise, don’t forget to add your pantry and refrigerator to the list! Being mindful about what food we have on hand can help us cook healthier meals and eat better. Our Nutrition Education Team has put together some tips that will lead to a cleaner kitchen and a healthier you!
Know Where to Store Your Fruits and Veggies
Storing fruits and veggies in their proper place means more space in your fridge and more time to enjoy these healthy foods, as they will not spoil prematurely.
- Store in a cool, dark place (such as a pantry) but NOT the fridge: potatoes, onions, winter squash, yams and sweet potatoes. The cold temperature of the fridge can cause them to sprout.
- Store and ripen on the counter: bananas and tomatoes. You can ripen fruits like avocados, melon, and stone fruit on the counter too, and then refrigerate.
- Refrigerate: berries, broccoli, greens and grapes.
What’s more, don’t handle, wash or cut your produce until you are ready to use it. Keeping them ‘as is’ from the grocery store as long as possible will ensure your food stays fresh longer.
Keep Food Safety in Mind When Stocking Your Fridge
Store ready-to-eat foods, fruits, vegetables, and dairy ABOVE uncooked meats, eggs, and fish in your refrigerator to avoid cross contamination. That way, if raw eggs or meat drip onto anything, it will be the bottom of your fridge, instead of leaking onto other foods.
Don’t be Fooled by “Best By” or “Sell By” Dates
Code dates, also called “Best By”, “Sell By” or “Use By” dates can be confusing. These code dates indicate a food’s peak flavor and quality, but they are not USDA-regulated safety dates, nor are they reasons to throw food out. Food is often good far past its code date.
Did you know that canned vegetables can last anywhere from 1.5 to 5 years past their code date? Dairy products such as milk and yogurt can last anywhere from 7-10 days past their code date. If properly stored in your freezer by the code date listed on the package, meats can last for many years past that date.
Shop Your Freezer Before Heading to the Store
Your freezer can store wonderful meal staples like meat, soups, and frozen vegetables. Make meals new again by making a batch of cornbread to go with that soup or chili you found in the freezer. Use frozen veggies in a weekend brunch frittata, or poach that frozen chicken and make it into tasty tacos. Check out our Yum Videos for more recipe inspiration!