Preventing or reducing food spoilage involves both keeping track of the food in your home as well as storing it properly. Once you know how to reduce food spoilage, you can reduce the amount of food that is wasted each year. You need to store foods at the proper temperature and in the right location, such as on a shelf in the refrigerator instead of on the door. Reduce food waste by using foods that are just past their prime in creative ways.
Check your freezer and refrigerator to make sure they are the proper temperatures. A freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), and the refrigerator should be no warmer than 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). Place a thermometer inside your freezer and refrigerator so that you can always monitor the temperature.
Store foods in the proper location to reduce food spoilage. Place milk and other dairy products, such as cream or yogurt, on the shelf of your refrigerator, even if the door has a built-in space for a milk jug. The door of the refrigerator is too warm for milk, which can cause it to spoil more quickly.
Some vegetables and fruits will rot more quickly if stored in cold temperatures. Tomatoes should stay out on the counter as should tropical fruits. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place and not the refrigerator.
Store meats in the coldest part of the refrigerator, typically the meat drawer on the bottom shelf. Keeping meats on the lowest level of the refrigerator will prevent them from contaminating other foods, too. Meat drippings can fall onto other foods if the meat is stored upon a higher shelf.
Keep certain fruits and vegetables separate to prevent food spoilage. Some fruits, such as apples, peaches, and bananas, release ethylene gas as they age. Other fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, berries, and leafy greens, absorb the ethylene. Ethylene causes fruits to ripen, but can also lead to spoilage if there is too much.
Pour dry goods, such as rice, grains, and pastas, into plastic or glass containers with an air-tight seal to reduce food spoilage. Insects can live on the cardboard boxes that many dried goods come in. They eat the glue that holds the boxes together and may work their way into the packages.
Arrange foods in your pantry by order of purchase to cut down on food waste. Put the oldest packages in the front and newer purchases in the back.
Buy foods you know you will eat to reduce food waste. Try to shop only when you need to, and use a shopping list. Avoid shopping when hungry so that you don't make impulse buys. Plan your meals for the week based on foods you have on hand, and only purchase ingredients you need to prepare your planned meals.
Use foods that are about to go bad in creative ways to keep them from spoiling. Turn fruits that are slightly over-ripe into smoothies or use them in baking. Vegetables that are starting to go limp can be used in stock or turned into soup. Hard bread can be turned into bread crumbs or bread pudding or made into croutons.
Get creative with your use of leftovers. Leftover plain rice can be turned into fried rice while leftover mashed potatoes can be made into fritters.