UACES Facebook Food Waste Week - Keep Food Safe
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March 20-24 is Food Waste Week here at the Small Steps to Healthy Habits blog! Learn how to keep your food safe so you're not throwing it out!

Food Waste Week - Keep Food Safe

by Katie Cullum

Cleaning out someone's refrigerator and freezer can be interesting. There are so many foods to keep track of in there. How many opened BBQ sauces were in there? (2) How many foods that were older than 2 years? (too many to count). But after the previous post on Food Label Dates, I was a little more prepared!

thermometer in fridge
Do you have a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer?

Another way to keep food waste in check is to keep the food you have safe. Check your temperature setting of your fridge. It should be below 40 degrees F. Your freezer should be 0 degrees F. Some tips for keeping food safe:

  • Refrigerate peeled or cut veggies or fruit for freshness and to keep them from going bad.
  • Avoid "cluttering" or "overpacking" the fridge. Cold air needs to circulate around food to keep it cold.
  • Keep it covered: Store refrigerated foods in covered containers or sealed storage bags, and check leftovers daily for spoilage.
  • Did you know that putting hot food in the fridge does NOT harm it? To help hot food cool faster, divide leftovers into smaller containers before putting them in the refrigerator. But get leftovers in the fridge quickly!
  • Keep produce or other foods that you want to use in plain sight. Clear containers are great! Using old whipped topping containers - not so much because you may not remember what was in there.
  • Make it easy to find foods by keeping your fridge cleaned out.
  • If you have more leftovers than you need, freeze them or use them for lunches, which also saves you money by not eating out.
  • Make a list of what you have in the freezer and add to it as needed and mark things off when you use them. This way, you won't have freezer-burned "mystery meat." Make sure the label everything and when you put it in the freezer also. 
  • Foods will stay safe in the freezer (as long as the power is working) but the quality will go down. So don't "save" food too long - use it up!
  • Check your fridge often to keep track of what you have and what needs to be used. Eat or freeze items before you need to throw them away. I do this when I'm meal planning for the week and making my grocery list.

If you ask yourself, “Are these leftovers still good?” – don’t stress. There’s an app for that! The USDA has the FoodKeeper app to help consumers keep food safe and not waste. You can even use the “Add to Calendar” feature and receive reminders to use products before they spoil! You can also access cooking tips, receive information on food safety recalls, and search foods for specific storage guidelines.

If you'd like to download a chart for how long foods will last in the fridge or freezer, check out the FDA's chart

Questions? Concerns? Send me an email or check my Facebook page

Check out the other posts in this Food Waste Week: