If you’re sticking to the rules, you’ll be popping to the shops less frequently, so at home, we’re working hard to make our food go further and really clamp down on our food waste.
Just because something has been in the fridge for a week, doesn’t exactly mean you need to chuck it in to the food waste bin. And if you’re taking food out of its packaging when you’ve brought it home to really stay safe, then you might not remember the use by dates!
So, here’s a handy guide to how long your fresh items will last in the fridge, what you can freeze to make them last longer, and what you need to keep an eye on in the cupboards.
Milk, Cheese and Yogurts
One of the best revelations of the past few weeks has been that yes, we can freeze milk! Obviously if you have children, milk consumption in your house will be at its peak, however for those who have need for milk but not a litre per day, we suggest making milk ice cubes with your trays which you can use as and when you need them.
For milk alternatives, try to buy the non-chilled versions so you can safely store them in the cupboard until you need them. After that, you’ve got a good 10-14 days of freshness once opened.
We’ve had the same freezing revelation when it comes to our cheese; grate whatever (hard) blocks you have and pop in a freezer bag. Just take handfuls whenever you need them, and they’ll defrost super quick thanks to being grated.
Yogurt is pretty hardy, but one that can only be kept in the fridge and eaten within two weeks of purchase.
Fruit and Veg
The list is endless when it comes to fruit and veg, so we’re going to focus on the most used staples you’re bound to be buying.
You know the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Take that view when it comes to the beloved banana. Just because the skin has turned, the fruit could still be fine! When you’ve brought them home, they’ll last 2 – 5 days at room temperature, then you can pop them in the fridge for up to a week!
Apples will keep for up to a month in the fridge (once ripe) and to keep your berries fresh, freeze them and only use when needed.
Your beloved avocados need just a touch of TLC, so leave them at room temperature if you’ve bought them still green. Keep an eye on them and once ripe, they’ll keep in the fridge for around 3-5 days. If you’re only using half at a time, use the half without the stone and squeeze a little lemon juice on the other half to keep it fresh in the fridge. You can tell when your avo is ripe as the skin will have darkened. You can also give it a gentle squeeze to check for a slight softness, but they’ll also be good to go if the little stem has dropped off – or is just about to.
Broccoli is another hardy veg to keep as a staple and will last a week when kept in the fridge. You could also blanch and freeze which means you could keep it for even longer
Meat, Fish and Poultry
As a general rule, unless you’re using it immediately, we’d freeze our fresh, raw meat and poultry as soon as we get home. To save space, take it out of the packaging and into a freezer bag – we know space is getting tight in there, so this will help squeeze it all in! But what about mince you ask? That too! Take it out of the packaging, into a freezer bag and squash it down so that it’s flat – it takes up less space and will defrost quicker!
Fresh fish should be frozen as soon as you buy it so it can be the freshest and tastiest when you go to cook it. Cod will last up to eight months frozen, while salmon will be good for up to three months. If in the fridge, make sure you cook fish within a couple of days. After that, it will keep for around four days.
Chicken breasts can be stored for around 9 – 12 months in the freezer, or a couple of days in the fridge (important to stick to the use by date on this one!), while bacon and sausages will be okay for a month or two in the freezer (seven and 1-2 days respectively in the fridge).
Sauces and Relish
There’s no hard and fast rule about our beloved sauces, and we’re not about to start a debate on whether ketchup should be stored in the fridge or the cupboard! With condiments, use your common sense. Usually, if you open a jar of anything you should keep it in the fridge and use within five days at least, but the likes of mayo can last up to two months chilled, so stick to the guidance on the packaging and you’ll be sorted. Don’t discard if there’s a little water on top when you open up, just give it a stir and you’ll be good to go!
When it comes to cutting down on waste, it’s as much about your planning and storage as the cooking. It starts by only buying what you need – don’t go shopping without a list! And taking that extra few minutes to unpack and store away as suggested above will help you further reduce your food waste at home.
You can find more food waste reducing ideas over in our Green Kitchen.