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10 Common Food Storage Mistakes You May Be Making

10 Common Food Storage Mistakes You May Be Making

Millions of pounds of food go to waste every year, and in an era of produce shortages and rising food costs, this is something we should all strive to avoid as much as possible. In addition to not buying more food than you’re certain to use within a week, you can try to store certain items for later use, either by freezing them or packaging them safely. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when it comes to food storage, and those errors can lead to some rather nasty health issues, in addition to wasted groceries. Here are a few of the more common mistakes that people make when it comes to putting food away:

Storing Onions with Potatoes

Some people may think that the taboo about storing onions with potatoes is an old wives’ tale, but it has actually been proven that keeping these two veggies in close proximity will result in a whole lot of mankiness. Store your potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, and keep your onions far away, also in a cool, dry place, but one that gets plenty of air circulation. I always refrigerate mine, but that’s your call.

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Keeping Leafy Greens in Plastic Bags

If you’ve ever bought lettuce and left it in its plastic bag, you’ve probably noticed that it got all wet and slimy. This is because plastic doesn’t allow air to circulate around the leaves, which accelerates the growth of mold and bacteria, so it rots more quickly. Either store your lettuce in perforated plastic bags, or wash it, dry it out as much as possible in a salad spinner, then layer it with sheets of paper towel and keep it in a large bowl in the fridge.

Refrigerating Berries Without Rinsing in Vinegar First

As scrumptious as they are, berries tend to be little cesspits of bacteria and mold, and it’s not uncommon for a package of raspberries or blueberries to get fuzzy and gross overnight. When you buy a box of berries, rinse them thoroughly in a 3:1 water:vinegar solution, dry them off well, and then refrigerate them in a perforated container.

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Not Labeling Frozen Foods

Have you ever tried to analyze some random frozen food item in an attempt to sort out what the hell it is? This is what happens when you don’t label things before you freeze them: you will not remember what they are a few months down the road, and you’ll play a risky guessing game in an attempt to sort them out. Whenever you freeze something, label it with the contents and the date that you froze it. As you add more items to the freezer, pull older items forward so you’ll use them up first.

Not Labeling Home-Canned Items

The rules for frozen foods also apply to home-canned goods: label everything with the contents and the date canned. Sure, most canned goods remain in edible condition for quite a while, but it really is best to use them within a year.

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Not Rotating Canned Goods

You may have heard canned goods referred to as “non-perishable food items“, but that just means that they won’t rot without refrigeration. They won’t remain fresh and edible forever. If the canned goods you’ve bought don’t have expiration dates that are easily visible, grab a Sharpie marker and write the date of purchase on the can’s lid. As you purchase more canned goods, pull the older ones forward so they’ll be eaten first.

Keeping Dry Goods in Original Packaging

Mice, meal worms, and mustiness: these three Ms are the main causes of in-edibility when it comes to dry goods, and all can be avoided by repackaging those foods in airtight glass containers. Skip the Rubbermaid containers, because mice can chew right through them. Your best bet is to store dry cereals, grains, pasta, and flours in glass Mason jars, or any other glass jar that you’ve cleaned thoroughly after using the contents. Pasta sauce and pickle jars are ideal, though jam jars are also great for smaller quantities.

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Storing Dry Goods in Damp Spaces

You can add mold as a fourth M to the list above if you plan to store dry goods in spaces that are exposed to a fair bit of moisture. Never keep dry pasta or cereal in the cupboards above (or near) the stove, as any moisture that evaporates from kettles or pots will be absorbed into the food.

Keeping Dented Cans

When a can is dented, there’s a greater chance that tiny cracks have formed along the dent, which can lead to spoilage (mmm botulism!) inside it. It’s better to ditch them than risk hospitalization.

Leaving Hot Food on Counters Before Refrigerating It

If you’ve ever been told that you should allow food to cool down before refrigerating it, you probably received that advice from someone who grew up with an icebox, or an early model of fridge. Modern refrigerators are more than capable of cooling warm food quickly; it’s what they’re for.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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