food waste

How to Make Your Food Last Longer

Consumer Reports explains how to keep your food from going bad so quickly.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Now that we’re limiting trips to the grocery store and food deliveries can be few and far between, managing the food we already have is more important than ever. According to a recent study, the average American household throws away nearly a third of the food it buys. Consumer Reports has some tips to cut back on waste by keeping the food we buy fresher for longer.

Start with the refrigerator: Make space for new food before heading to the store or accepting a delivery. Cold air that can circulate throughout the space will keep your food best. For optimum freshness, your refrigerator should be set at 37 degrees and the freezer at 0.

Go through your cupboards to check out the “best by” dates, and move the oldest foods to the front. You don’t need to consider those dates as “throw out” dates. “Best by” means the food may taste best before that particular date, but it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat. You should examine food past that date to see if there are signs of spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out.

The dry goods in your pantry will last longer if you store them in airtight packaging. This will also help keep out bacteria and moisture. And when you freeze or refrigerate foods, wrap them tightly, then mark them with a date so that you’re more likely to use them first.

Consumer Reports food experts say that to keep staples like bread longer, keep them out of the fridge. Bread can go stale much faster in the refrigerator than if you store it in a cool, dry place. You can freeze it, though; just wrap it tightly and put it in an airtight container or a resealable bag.

If you don't think you'll use milk before the expiration date, pour a little out of the carton, then freeze the rest. It will keep for up to three months. You can even freeze eggs. To keep the yolks from hardening and becoming unusable, whisk them a little, then pour into an airtight container. They will keep well for about a year in your freezer.

Strawberries will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you remove the stems and put them in a single layer in a covered container.

Consumer Reports food experts would like to remind you that frozen foods retain their nutrients, so buying frozen produce is a good way to cut down on waste. Then use only what you need from the freezer, so you throw out less.

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