Families will know a grocery shop never seems to last long, but as we are currently being encouraged to only head out for the essentials you might find your food stocks are even more stretched. Those of us who can manage to get an online shop may only be able to put in an order once a fortnight, so how do you get your food to last as long as possible?
You don’t have to turn to a diet of dried, tinned and pickled foods – making the most of your fridge freezer means you can enjoy fresh ingredients every day. The key is knowing how to store them properly, and having a few tricks up your sleeve to max the potential of every ingredient. We have teamed up with refrigeration experts Fisher & Paykel to bring you 10 top fridge and freezer storage hacks to ensure you keep your food fresher for longer.
1. Know what needs chilling and what doesn’t
While we all want a well stocked fridge remember that overcrowding prevents good air circulation and hinders efficient chilling. This in turn means your food might go off sooner. Keeping your fridge organised is key (more on this later), but the first step to a tidy fridge is to only chill what really needs to be kept refrigerated. Common items that we put in the fridge that can be kept in a cool dry place instead are eggs, tomatoes, avocados, bread, garlic, onions and potatoes. For warmer weather and hot climates however, you can look for a flexible fridge with a pantry storage setting to keep these items a moderate 11–13°C.
2. Meal plan and sort your fridge by use-by dates
When you get your shopping home, take note of the use-by dates on perishable items and plan meals accordingly. If you won’t be able to use something in time, pop it in the freezer if possible to extend its shelf life. Also where you have more than one of the same item, place the ones that will go off soonest near the front of the fridge and use them first.
3. Remove excess packaging when you put things away
While many of us aim to buy items with less packaging, that decision might be taken away from you when buying groceries online as much of it needs to come wrapped for transportation. Some items stack more easily if left in their packs, but others might take up surplus room in their bags and boxes, so remove them where possible and use your fridge’s specially designed drawers and holders to keep them in check. Which takes us to...
4. Make the most of drawers, racks and baskets
Good fridge freezers have plenty of flexible storage to help you keep everything neat and tidy. Using these not only aids organisation, but means food doesn’t get damaged in storage. This is especially important for fruit and vegetables which go off more quickly when bruised. If your fridge freezer is lacking in storage accessories use plastic containers to corral similar foods. This also makes it easier to clean the fridge shelves as the containers catch most of the mess.
5. Use temperature zoning like a boss
The best modern fridges allow you to set not just the temperature of your whole fridge or freezer, but also customise it for different zones. This means you can store your fish, meat and other highly perishable food at the desired -1.5–0°C, while not over-chilling dairy, fruit and veg which are best stored between 0 and 6°C. Many premium Fisher & Paykel models of fridge and freezer feature Variable Temperature Zone Technology that allows you to change the temperature to suit your needs. In their Quad door freezers, you can even convert the lower right hand freezer into a fridge when you need more room for chilled goods. Fisher & Paykel fridge freezers (including the column model seen below and their Cooldrawer) also have a deep freeze mode for anything you intend to have in long term storage.
Not all refrigerators from other brands have even temperature gradation. Take note of any areas that seem cooler than others and store items that go off quicker (highly perishable items) in those locations.
6. Swap and save with frozen fruit and veg
If you are having to leave more time between food shops, you can ensure you still get your five a day by switching to frozen fruit and veg where possible. They last much longer, free up fridge space (unlike fridges, freezers actually work most efficiently when well-filled) and are usually much cheaper. The best veggies to enjoy from frozen are peas, sweetcorn, spinach and some types of bean. Frozen berries are also very affordable and perfect for compotes, smoothies and baking.
7. Save veg and fruit leftovers for soups and smoothies
Any fresh fruit and veg you don’t think you will eat in time can be frozen, too. Wash and prep before freezing so that they can quickly be thrown into whatever you are cooking later on. Some ingredients fare better than others. Broccoli and cauliflower stalks often get thrown away but freeze them to make delicious soups. Potatoes go a bit crumbly in the freezer, but precooked mash or baked dishes like dauphinoise work well. You can also freeze veg by batch cooking it into your favourite meals, then freezing portions for quick midweek meals. From pasta sauces to muffins and comfort food favourites like shepherds’ pie, there are few meals that can’t have a few extra fruits and veggies included to use up what is left.
8. Labels and lists
If you do freeze a lot of leftovers or extra fresh goods, don’t forget to label them. Include not only what they are, but also the date they were frozen and need to be consumed by. Also keep a list to hand of what is in the freezer and cross things off as they get used. This way you always know what meals you have to fall back on when time/food is short and nothing goes to waste.
9. Stock up on quality food containers
If you freeze a lot of leftovers and home cooked meals, you will need a good range of containers to store them in. Clear plastic or glass containers with lids are best as you can see what is in them – a great fallback if you are a bit lazy with your labelling. We love the glass containers that can be used in the freezer, oven and microwave for the greatest flexibility. Oven bake something in them, before freezing then reheating or defrosting in the microwave. They save on space and are more environmentally friendly than plastic freezer bags which can’t be reused.
10. Freeze cheese to use in other dishes
Yes, it might be rare that cheese goes to waste (in our house at least), but sometimes you buy too much for a recipe or have leftovers from a cheeseboard. Don’t waste it. Most cheeses freeze quite well and while they might not be exactly the same as they were before, they are still good for baking, melting and grilling. Odds and ends of hard cheeses like cheddar and gruyere can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer until you have enough for a cheese sauce. Blue cheeses are perfect for throwing in a soup – pair with the broccoli and cauliflower stalks we mentioned before and blend with hot stock and fried onions.
Follow these tips and you will find your food shop could go twice as far. For more on storing chilled and frozen food, check out Fisher & Paykel’s cooling range.
About Fisher & Paykel
Since 1934, Fisher & Paykel have carved a name for themselves when it comes to high-end appliance design, engineered with real people in mind. All products are designed to be adaptable, functional, durable and respect the planet. From dishwashers, to ovens, to hobs and chilling appliances, you can find everything you need for the modern family kitchen at Fisher & Paykel.