When was the last time you took stock of your refrigerator or freezer? Do you know when things went in and when it's time to toss them out? Often times, poor planning and storage can be harmful and wasteful.
"It's estimated that about 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten," says Jennifer Beck of Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine. "But planning ahead, proper organization and proper food storage can prevent this from happening in your home, which will save you money and keep your family healthy."
To get a better handle on things, Time Warner Cable News asked Jennifer Beck of Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine for some food storage and safety tips to keep us healthy.
First, like many things, the key to healthy food storage is location, location, location.
"The refrigerator is a great place to store food, but it is not the same temperature all over," Beck says. "Your coldest area of the fridge is going to be at the bottom. That is where you are going to want to store your most perishable items, your meat, your chicken, your seafood. The door of your fridge is going to be the warmest area. It's a fine place to keep condiments, but don't keep anything perishable like milk or eggs there. That should be inside the fridge."
When was the last time you checked the temperature in your fridge? Most bacteria grows between 40 and 140 degrees, so make sure to keep the fridge below 40 degrees and the freezer below 0. Then, check how things are stored.
"When storing food in the freezer, you're going to want to spring for the freezer bags or the heavy duty foil. They're much thicker, they're less prone to ripping and they're really going to help lock in that freshness," Beck says. "Another thing to keep in mind is freezer paper. It's coated on one side to help lock moisture in and keep the ice out.
It's also important to pay attention to the containers you use in your refrigerator. For example, if you come home with leftovers, don't just stick the bag in the fridge. You really should transfer the food to an airtight container so you can get it to last a little longer. Also, label everything clearly.
Then, the big question is, how long is too long? How long can that ketchup last, or how long should things be kept in the freezer? Stay tuned for my next report, where Beck offers some food for thought and breaks down the shelf life of things we eat.