Are you using your refrigerator the right way? Knowing the best way to store food can help you prevent spoilage, which will keep your family safer. According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans gets sick and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses each year.
Proper refrigeration can also reduce food waste — which can save you money. Check out these staggering statistics about wasted food in the U.S. from EndFoodWasteNow.org.
- Americans leave about 40 percent of all their food uneaten (wasted), which adds up to an astonishing $165 billion of wasted money between grocery stores, restaurants and private individuals. This food waste costs a family of four almost $600 a year.
- Spoiled food is the single largest type of waste in U.S. landfills, which isn’t just wasteful. It creates greenhouse gases as it decomposes, which contributes to climate change.
- Recent estimates by researcher Kevin Hall of the National Institute of Health show that just a quarter of the food we waste would provide three meals per day for 43 million people — enough to end hunger in the United States and then some.
Before you start slashing your grocery list, it pays to realize it’s not all about what you buy, but whether it stays good long enough for you to eat it all. Proper food storage can alleviate much of this problem, ensuring the food you buy stays fresher (and safer to eat) longer.
The main thing to keep in mind is that some areas of your refrigerator are colder than others. So keep the foods that spoil faster in those colder spots. Keep the slower-spoiling foods in the warmer areas.
You may want to post this spiffy infographic on your fridge to remind the whole family where things go.
Other tips on storing food in the refrigerator:
- Don’t block the vents.
- Replace filters (like ethylene gas absorbers) regularly.
- Don’t over- or under-stock the fridge.
- Put milk and eggs toward the back of the shelf where it’s colder.
- Place raw meats in their packaging in a bin to prevent cross-contamination.
- Things can go down a shelf if space is a problem, but not up.
- If your fridge isn’t equipped with one, use ethylene gas-absorbing freshness extenders in the average- and low-humidity drawers.
- If you purchase fruit that’s unripe, place it in your medium- or low-humidity drawer, and the ethylene-producing veggies will ripen it faster.
- Label fresh foods with the date you put them in whenever possible.
Sources: Greatist, Lifehacker, Shared Legacy Farms, NPC LLC, AgriCultured