Preventing food waste and saving money on groceries is one of the ways you can go further with food during National Nutrition Month. Food safety is an important part of keeping your food and leftovers safe and germ-free. As you work to reduce food waste in your kitchen, remember these tips to go further with food safety.
Leftover Food Safety
One of the best ways to prevent food waste is to reuse leftovers. Not only does reusing leftovers save you time (no additional cooking required!), you save money and nutrition from getting tossed in the trash. To keep leftovers safe, be sure to refrigerate within 2 hours of serving and reheat to 165°F before eating. Eat leftovers within 4 days. Labeling your containers with the contents and date can help you keep track.
Use It Before You Lose It
As much as I am a dedicated meal planner, sometimes my weekly menu gets thrown off by a change of plans or extra leftovers. When it’s time to write my new meal plan, there is sometimes extra produce or opened containers of perishable foods hanging around the fridge that are on the verge of going bad. When that happens, I make sure to find meals to use up those wilting veggies and opened yogurt right away to keep them from being wasted. Smoothies, stir-fries, or other Build Your Own recipes are great for using up those foods and saving them from the landfill.
Don’t forget about your freezer! You can save food from going bad before you can use it by freezing it for later. Here’s a helpful list of what types of food are suitable for freezing along with how to best store it from the Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. If you’ve thawed it correctly in the fridge, you can refreeze most meats until you can use them later, too.
Learn How to Understand Food Dates
Since you can’t see or smell illness-causing germs in your food, we rely on other information to know if our food is good to eat or not. However, most of us don’t really understand the different dates listed on food containers and how they relate to food safety. The “sell by” date is used by stores to know when it should stop selling a package for quality purposes. The “best if used by” is the last date recommended for peak quality. Neither of these dates let you know if the food is still good to eat or not. This chart of food storage times is a much better way to know if something is still good to eat.
Food safety is always important when purchasing, storing, preparing, and eating food. Stick with the basics of food safety and know you’re keeping germs out of your family’s food.