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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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