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Wellness Wednesday: Tips for Safe and Organized Food Storage

Welcome to our new feature: Wellness Wednesday! Since health and wellness is such an important part of our lives, we are going to bring you tools, tips and tricks to help you stay organized around your health and well-being.

Do you find yourself waist-deep in your fridge or freezer asking yourself far too often if you should keep, toss, eat? Not sure if you should risk it? Safe food storage is a challenge because there are so many different guidelines depending on the type of food, sell by vs. best by, frozen or fresh. Even how you stored the food in the first place can make a huge different in how long it will hold its quality and freshness. Follow our tips below for optimal safety in the kitchen and check out Real Simple food storage tips for an exhaustive list of rules to live by!

Frozen: So how long are frozen items good for anyway? Really you should only keep things frozen for 3 months. Unfortunately, just because it’s frozen doesn’t mean it will last forever. Always date items with a sharpie when you freeze them so you’ll know exactly when to toss it otherwise it will start to absorb the flavors of the other foods in your freezer and become encased in ice. Bacteria can survive in the freezer so always cook frozen food properly.

Storing leftovers: There is a right way and a wrong way to properly refrigerate leftovers. If you want to refrigerate the leftovers of a hot dinner for tomorrow, make sure you place it in shallow containers. The deeper the container, the longer it will take the food to cool, this prolongs the time in the “danger zone.” The “danger zone” is between 40 and 140 degrees and it’s the ideal temperature for bacterial growth which can cause food poising. Even if you’ve stored your leftovers properly, date them because they are only good for 4 days maximum and never leave food out on a counter for more than 2 hours!

Sell by vs. best by vs. use by: With no one standard existing in the US for dating food products (the only exception being baby formula) it can be confusing and hard to know if an item is safe. A “sell by” date is really for the retailer. It means that after this date, the item will be pulled from shelves and not be sold. Most products with a “sell by” date also include a “best by” date. The “best by” date means that while the food is still safe to consume, it is no longer at it’s peak flavor and texture. By comparison, a “use by” date means that the food is longer safe to consume after the posted date.

How do you safely organize your food? We want to know!

If you have an idea for Wellness Wednesday, let us know and check back often for new tips to improve your overall health and wellness!

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