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Bye-Bye Use-by Dates: Keep Your Food Fresh with These Refrigerator Storage Tips

24/10/2022

A recent study by the UK’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that around 7 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year, with almost half of this waste coming from households.

In an effort to reduce this staggering amount of food waste, WRAP has released a report recommending that supermarkets remove use-by dates from their products. While this may seem like a drastic measure, it could actually help to keep more food out of landfills and save consumers money.

A number of UK supermarkets, like Waitrose and Morrisons, have agreed to remove best-before dates from over 500 products, including, apples, potatoes, and broccoli.

So how long should you be keeping your food in the fridge for maximum freshness? In this blog, we will outline how long various produce will last in your fridge as well as a series of storage tips to keep your food fresher for longer.

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Raw meats

Red meat can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days, while poultry can be stored for 2-3 days.

To extend the shelf life of your raw meat, make sure to store it in a shallow dish and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You should also use cooked meat within 2 days of buying it, and should always store your raw meat and cooked meat on separate shelves to avoid contamination. It’s best to store raw meat on the bottom shelf to prevent any blood or raw meat juices from trickling down onto other products in your fridge.

Fish

You can store fresh fish in the fridge for 1-2 days. If you’re not planning on eating it within that time frame, it’s best to freeze your fish.

To extend the shelf life of your fish, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it on a bed of ice at the bottom of your fridge. You can store your raw fish next to raw meat, but keep all raw meat and fish compartmentalized, and covered to prevent contamination. As previously mentioned, you should store raw meat, poultry, and fish below ready-to-eat/ cooked food. 

Eggs

You can store eggs in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks. However, it’s best to use them within 2 weeks for the freshest taste.

To extend the shelf life of your eggs, make sure to store them in their original carton and keep them on the inside shelf of the fridge. Most fridges have a special section to store your eggs, but we recommend leaving them in the original carton.

Dairy

Milk should be consumed within 7 days of being bought and stored in the main compartment of the fridge.

Cheese can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the type. Hard cheese like Parmesan has a much longer shelf life than soft cheeses like Brie or Ricotta.

Butter should be consumed within 1 month of being bought. If bread or toast crumbs end up in your butter this can turn moldy and lessen the lifespan of your butter so always use a clean knife when you’re buttering your bread.

Yogurt can last up to 2 weeks, but only a few days once it has been opened. To help keep a track of when items have been opened you can always label them yourself.

To keep your dairy products fresher for longer, make sure to store them in their original packaging and close the lid tightly after each use. You should also store cheese in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

It’s usually quite easy to tell if your dairy products are going bad because they will produce a strong smell. They will also start to excrete a watery liquid, separate, and begin to grow mold, so it’s usually quite easy to tell if your dairy products are safe to consume.

If you can, dedicate a shelf in your fridge for your dairy products and keep them separate from raw meat. You can store them next to cooked meats if your fridge storage space is limited.

Fruits and Veg

Fruits and vegetables have a much shorter shelf life than most other produce items. Most fruits and veggies will last 1-2 days in the fridge, with the exception of some like apples and potatoes which can last up to 2 weeks.

To extend the shelf life of your fruits and vegetables, make sure to store them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. This is because the crisper drawer is designed to maintain a higher level of humidity, which helps keep fruits and vegetables fresher for longer.

You should also make sure to store fruits and vegetables in separate drawers as some fruits give off ethylene gas, which can cause veggies to spoil faster. Ethylene-producing fruits include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, honeydews, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes.

Make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables before you store them in the fridge as this will remove any bacteria that could cause them to spoil. However, don’t wash them too far in advance as this can also cause them to spoil faster.

Sauces, condiments, and jams

Most sauces, condiments, and jams will last 3-4 months in the fridge. This includes items like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and maple syrup. However, once you’ve opened the jars the lifespan of these items is reduced.

To extend the shelf life of your sauces, condiments, and jams, make sure to store them in an airtight container and close the lid tightly after each use. You can also store them in the door as this is one of the coolest refrigerator components.

Plan ahead and shop small

One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to plan your meals ahead of time and only buy the ingredients you need. This will help you avoid buying items that you’ll end up not using and let them go bad in your fridge.

It’s also a good idea to shop at local markets instead of large supermarkets as they tend to have a smaller inventory and turnover their produce faster. This means that the produce is usually fresher and has a longer shelf life.

If you are worried about raw meats, poultry and fish going bad before you’ve had a chance to use them, you should consider either freezing them, or cooking them in advance. Meal prepping is a great way to plan ahead for the week and prevent your food from going bad.

Alternatively, you may want to consider shopping small. Most families prefer to buy a full weeks shop in one go, but this often results in more food being wasted. Instead, try shopping for three or four days at a time. It also allows you to be more flexible with your recipes, as you can use your leftovers more effectively.

If you do end up with some extra food that you won’t be able to use before it goes bad, don’t forget that you can always donate it to a local food bank or soup kitchen.

Conclusion

We hope our guide on how to store food in the fridge has been helpful! Remember, the key to reducing food waste is to plan ahead, shop small, and store your food properly. With a little bit of effort, you can make sure that your food stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.

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