As food prices soar and more people in the world go hungry, I am more conscious than ever of the amount of food that gets thrown out each week.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American household throws out between $500 and $2,000 worth of food per year.
I suspect the waste in my household is even greater.
I admit to being a freshness fanatic, and rarely a day goes by that I do not hit at least one market to purchase groceries. Even with a “ buy as needed” attitude, there is a ridiculous amount of waste in our kitchen.
I set out to do a little research as to how long food can be kept before it goes bad, and I had a few surprises. Foods last longer in the refrigerator than I assumed, and the freezer does not extend food life indefinitely, as I had been previously told. Here are a few common foods, and their shelf life both refrigerated and frozen:
|Hot dogs; opened||1 week||1-2 months|
|Deli lunchmeat; freshly sliced or from an open package||3-5 days* although the deli manager at Whole Foods recommends 3 days only||1-2 months|
|Ground meats; raw||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Raw poultry||1-2 days||9months for pieces/12 months if whole|
|Red meat; raw||3-5 days||4-6 months for chops / 6-12 months for steaks + roasts|
|Soups and Stews||3-4 days||2-3 months frozen|
|Hard cheese||3-4 weeks||Not recommended|
|Soft cheese||1 week||Not recommended|
|Ice cream||1-2 months|
|Mayo||2 months once opened||Not recommended|
|Cooked leftovers||3-4 days||Varies|
|Butter||1 month||Up to 9 months|
|Milk||1 week||Not recommended|
|Eggs||3 weeks||Not recommended|
This week, I am committed to reducing our family’s food waste. While I may not be comfortable keeping things around as long as this chart dictates as safe, I will be more cognizant of recycling our leftovers quickly into healthy and tasty dishes that we can consume, instead of toss.
Stay tuned for this week’s adventures as I blog about how I reduce food waste creatively.
Join the conversation, and post some of your ideas in the comment section.
photo: Glasshouse Images