Food wastage can come from lack of knowledge and improper organisation. Restaurants use a food storage method that keeps it fresh for longer and avoids cross contamination. Let’s borrow their methodology for our home fridge.
Leftovers, chapatis and salads
The top shelves are fairly easy to reach, no bending required. Use your top shelves for foods that need easy access and do not need proper cooking. This is because the upper shelves have the most consistent temperatures so they will keep such foods fresh but not too cold and minimise cross-contamination from other foods. Reserve these shelves for left overs, fresh juice, yoghurt, cheese, salads, chapatis and ready-to-eat preserved meats such as sandwich ham, hot dogs and beef brawn. This top shelf is also good for storing medicines that need to be kept cold such as antibiotics.
Fresh and preserved meats
If you come home with meat and need to use it later but don’t want to freeze it, make sure it is tightly sealed then store it on the lowest shelf to prevent it from dripping blood onto food on lower shelves and contaminating it. Some fridges have a clear drawers either just below the freezer or above the crispers that is meant for this. If your fridge doesn’t have one, you can always purchase it separately. You can also use this drawer for preserved meats. Just be sure to clean this area regularly.
Fruits and veggies
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The lower fridge drawers (also known as crispers) are designed to keep food at a specific humidity so they are ideal for storing vegetables. If possible, don’t wash the veggies before storing them and always ensure the drawer is clean and dry. Avoid storing gas releasing fruits and vegetables like avocados, tomatoes, plums and bananas in the fridge as they can spoil other foods.
Eggs and milk
The fridge door is the least cold part of the refrigerator due to the position away from air ducts and because it is most exposed when opened. Contrary to popular belief, eggs and milk should not be stored in the door shelves unless they are for use within two days. In fact, when you come home from the supermarket with your eggs, keep them in the tray you purchased them in and slide them onto one of the middle shelves. If your eggs didn’t come in a tray, store them in a bowl rather than the in-built egg-tray on the door. Use the door shelves for sauces and condiments and packaged juices.
There are several types of organisers specific for refrigeration that can help you keep foodstuff within sight while occupying the least amount of space. Use thick freezer-safe bags or containers instead of flimsy plastic bags to store foods in the freezer and keep them from getting freezer burn. If your containers are not air tight, put a layer of cling film under the lid. Nothing tastes worse than freezer-burned githeri!