Want to cut down on the amount of wasted food in your kitchen and save yourself some money in the process? Your kitchen is full of food that will eventually spoil and need throwing out. Making sure you use up that food or preserve it before that happens is smart. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can stop your food from turning into kitchen waste. Here are a few tips that should help you get more out of your grocery purchases, and also help you avoid having to throw out good food that could be put to better use.
7 Life Hacks to Keep Your Kitchen Waste Way Down
- First, check your fridge is at the right temperature.
To preserve your food for as long as possible and stop it from needing to be thrown out your fridge needs to be at a specific temperature. If it’s too warm then the food starts to degrade. If it’s too cold then the food may freeze and become damaged by the crystallization process involved with freezing. You should generally keep the main area of your fridge around forty degrees Fahrenheit (or four degrees Celsius). Your freezer should be around zero degrees Fahrenheit (or minus eighteen degrees Celsius). You can buy a fridge thermometer at your local store that will let you know what the temperature is.
- Take care in how you store certain foods.
Most jams, preserves, and sauces are fine to store on the shelf, particularly if you normally use them up quickly. Dairy usually needs to be refrigerated, but you can buy UHT milk and other UHT dairy products that can be stored on the shelf for months unopened.
For some cheeses that you use in small quantities, you may want to make them last longer by sectioning them up, wrapping them in foil, and freezing them until you need them.
If you buy multiple bread loaves at a time to save yourself extra trips to the store then you can keep them fresh by putting the ones you won’t need for a day or so in the freezer. This can also stop the bread from going moldy and needing to be thrown away.
If you buy lots of milk and find yourself throwing it out regularly when the excess has gone off then consider using powdered milk to supplement your supply. This can be kept for months or longer without any refrigeration, and you can quickly spoon it into beverages like coffee and tea. You can also freeze excess milk, along with other dairy products such as yogurt.
Many fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be stored in the fridge and will last longer if they are stored at room temperature instead. Bananas should normally be kept out of the fridge and away from other fruit. Whole pineapples can also be stored at room temperature but should be kept out of direct sunlight.
- Try pickling and preserving fruit and vegetables.
Got fruit and vegetables that are near to going off? Rather than throwing them out, try turning them into pickles or preserves. You can find plenty of info online that can teach you how to do this.
- Dice and freeze excess vegetables.
You’ve probably seen those bags of diced mixed vegetables in the freezer section at your local supermarket. When unfrozen the vegetables are usually still nice and crisp and are great for adding to soups and stews. If you’ve bought too many vegetables to use up before they go off then you might want to dice them up after cleaning and skinning them, and then put them in the freezer so that they last until you need them. This also gives you a buffer for your meal ingredients so you are less tempted to over-buy vegetables. Bear in mind that not all vegetables are suitable for freezing. Lettuce and similar veggies are probably a poor choice, but any vegetable that you might normally cook can probably be frozen.
- Juice fruit that is going soft, or use it in other ways.
While fruits that have ripened to the point where they are going soft might not have a texture that is pleasant to chow down on, they are often at their sweetest at this point. This makes them great for throwing into the juicer and turning into a fruit smoothie or other delicious drink. You can easily trim off any bits that are too far gone to eat first.
Some fruits can also be used in other ways when they start to go off. Bananas can be used in banana bread, for example. If you have a food dehydrator then those soft sweet fruits may be great for drying and turning into long-lasting snacks.
- Use common sense with expiration dates.
Some things are more tolerant of an expired expiration date than others, and many can be checked by eyeballing them to see if they need disposing of. Meat and other food that can develop bacterial contamination such as salmonella should usually be thrown out if they have expired. Fruit and vegetables will generally show more visible signs of degradation and you can usually get away with chopping off any rotten bits. Canned processed foods and dried foods often have a lot of flexibility with their expiration dates, as do foods with lots of preservatives added.
- Check the quality of your tap water.
Much of the food you eat needs to be cleaned with water or have water added to it. The kitchen utensils that you use to prepare and eat that food are also washed with that same water. The quality of the water that you drink and put in your beverages, soups, and other foods is something you need to take an interest in if you want your food to stay healthy. Tap water has flowed through a lot of piping to get to you and may have sat in some parts of your plumbing for an extended period. This can be a particular problem if you have a house with old metal plumbing that may be starting to corrode. Check out these best-selling grocery bottle water brands.
It’s a good idea to do a final filter for your tap water before you put it into your food. This may save the food from degrading and needing to be thrown away if the water is contaminated, and it may also save you from getting sick.
You can find a wide choice of filtering options for your tap water. Modern water filters make use of techniques such as reverse osmosis to remove contaminants from your water supply. They can also help deal with water that has the wrong PH and is too alkalized or acidic as a result.
Food is a fairly expensive purchase that you make on a regular basis, so finding ways to spend less and get more out of your grocery shopping is a smart move. It also helps the environment by putting less of a strain on food production that uses up natural resources and creates packaging waste. There are many great reasons to make your kitchen more efficient, so take a look at your kitchen waste today and ask yourself how you can cut down on it.