Storage Solutions: Food

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and that you are continuing your efforts to eat from your fridge and pantry stores.  Remember, the more you eat at home now, the more money you are saving, the more space you are freeing up for yummy, fresh foods next month, and the less time you will have to spend cleaning out your fridge. Plus, you are doing a good deed for the planet as well.

Now that we have reviewed the organizational strategies employed by the food industry, you may be wondering how you can use these strategies at home.  Here are some Ruly suggestions:

  1. When you get home from the grocery store, no matter how tired you are, make sure you put away all the groceries properly.  Take a few minutes to unpackage items like juice boxes, bottled waters, pudding cups, or bulk packages of items so that the foods are easily accessible and ready to eat/cook. “Face” the products so that the front of the package faces toward you like they do in stores.  This small routine has been a big help to me.  If your food/snacks are ready to grab-n-go/cook, you are less likely to get take-out because you are too tired to fix anything.
  2. In general, store your food with like items together (ex. all the milk together, all the juice together, all the meats together, all the cereal together, etc.)  The newest purchases should be placed at the back and the oldest purchases upfront.  This will make it easier for you to see what you have and what you have run out of.
  3. Store beverages in easy-to-pour clear containers or dispenser boxes so that you are encouraged to drink them and can easily see how much is left.
  4. Consider purchasing pre-cut fresh vegetables and salads to save time, reduce food preparation waste and encourage you to actually eat the vegetables.  (Note, however, that pre-cut veggies are often more expensive so you will need to balance the expense versus the possible benefits of eating more veggies because they are more accessible.)  Alternatively, when you are chopping vegetables, chop extra into a clear plastic container so that the veggies are ready to use as sandwich toppings, in salads, etc.
  5. When you put leftovers or meats in the fridge, attach a label with an “eat by” date.  Generally, leftovers keep for no more than 4 days in the fridge.  If it will take you longer than 4 days to eat the leftovers, package them for the freezer instead. It may be helpful to print this Food Safety chart and put it on your fridge as a guide or create your own chart based on the food items you frequently store.  This chart from the Dietary Managers Association has a more exhaustive list but is too big for the fridge.
  6. Consider designating one space in your fridge for items that need to be eaten right away before they spoil.  That way, if you are looking for a snack, you will peruse those items first. You will also know which items to toss when you take out your garbage each week.

If you are on a diet or trying to encourage healthy eating (who isn’t these days!), use marketing strategies for food presentation and sales in your own home to support your own eating goals.  For example:

  1. Eye-level placement – Put the foods you want yourself to eat at eye-level and the foods you should be saving for treats in harder to access places.  It would be interesting to note what you have at eye level now.  Are you eating the most of your eye-level foods or are you wasting this valuable space with frequently unused items.
  2. Displays – Create your own special “displays” for items you need extra encouragement to eat or quick items to grab on your way out the door. Maybe a banana stand with fresh bananas, a bowl of fruit, packages of nuts, muffins on a cake stand, the traditional cookie jar, etc.
  3. Loss Leaders – grocery stores often place an item on sale next to items with better profit margins.  You could use this strategy to encourage nutrition.  For example, put a bowl of dried fruit next to the brownies.  Make it easy for yourself to get back on track with good eating habits.

Below are some organizing tools that may also be helpful in your efforts.

2009-11-09-rubbermaideasyfind RubbermaidEasy Find Lids 36-pc. Food Storage Set
2009-11-06-storesafelabels Storesafe Dissolvable Food Labels (11-0004)
2009-11-06-lock-lock-pitcher Lock & Lock Storage 1 Gallon Large Pitcher
2009-11-06-dryfooddispenser Double Dry Food Dispenser – Silver
2009-11-09-cookiejar Anchor Hocking Montana 1-1/2-Gallon Jar, Brushed Metal Lid

Keep up your excellent work!  In the next post, we will introduce a new monthly feature that you are sure to enjoy.  Type to you then!