Food Storage Guide: Making Leftovers Last

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Food Storage Guide: Making Leftovers Last

Staff Writer · Mar 25, 2010

Cooking meals at home is the first step you need to take in order to cut your grocery expenses and save money. Learning all you can about food storage will help you make the most of leftovers, which will further reduce your need to cook and buy takeout food. Eliminate the guesswork by keeping these guidelines in mind:

Freezing

It’s the most simple form of food storage that retains the most nutrients, and there’s no risk of bacteria growing on your food. However, you won’t have any success trying to freeze leftover crisp salads and vegetables, such as lettuce or radishes. Most foods can last up to a year in the freezer, but you do have to take precautions to avoid freezer burns. With proper planning, you could spend two days cooking all of your meals for the month and freezing portions. When you’re ready to eat, you’ll thaw or microwave as needed. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, freeze your leftovers to eat another time.

Refrigerator

Food doesn’t last nearly as long in a refrigerator as it would in a freezer. However, it’s an easy option for food storage if you plan to eat leftovers within three days. Foods already cooked don’t stay fresh in the refrigerator much longer than that. Try to schedule your cooking and leftovers to coincide with the days that you’re busiest during the week. This saves time in the kitchen.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is popular in most kitchens, because it seals itself and has multiple uses. You can wrap food inside of it and store it in the fridge, or use it like a lid to cover dishes or pans. However, there are some health considerations to keep in mind when using foil. It’s made of aluminum, which is a metal, and it may not be the best choice for food storage if you want to keep your diet free of metals. Some adults and children have food allergies that cause them to go on strict diets, such as the gluten-casein-soy-free diet that discourages foods and methods that will allow metals to seep into the food. If you have food allergies or want to keep metals out of your diet, then aluminum foil is not for you.

Plastic Wrap

An alternative to aluminum foil is plastic wrap. It works the same way, except it’s free of metals because it’s made of plastic. It’s important to use food grade plastic wraps for food storage. For example, don’t use an empty grocery bag to store your leftovers. You risk the chemicals from the bag seeping into your food. Some people don’t like to use plastic wraps either, because of the chemicals found in plastics. They would rather use glass containers for food storage. Take into consideration your health risks, food sensitivities and personal preferences to help you make the right choice.

Maximize your leftovers with one of these options for food storage, and you’ll save money and conserve energy, because you’ll cook less frequently.

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