With the world on lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people may be wondering how long their food supplies will last before their next supermarket sweep. We’ve put together some of our top tips on what you should shop for and how to store your food if you want to increase its shelf-life.
Pasta and Rice
Items such as pasta and rice are amongst the items that are in short supply, as it is common knowledge that they have an extremely long shelf life and are a staple for many meals. Storing pasta in plastic containers is not the best idea however, as these tend to absorb moisture, making your pasta limp and sticky. Keep your pasta or rice stored in a dark place with no direct sunlight and if you need to store them in a container, a glass jar is the best option.
Whether it’s been cooked or not, meat has an extremely short shelf life compared to most other foods. It’s important that you store it safely and correctly according to the label, and once opened, remember that there is a two day expiry date. If you buy meat to be frozen, make sure you get it in as soon as possible and that it hasn’t been frozen and defrosted before. Don’t store it in the freezer for more than a month. Another tip is to make sure you use up anything in your freezer before going to buy more meat.
Milk doesn’t last long when it’s opened, but adding a pinch of salt or bicarbonate of soda can actually extend its shelf life by up to a week.This is because these ingredients naturally slow down the bacteria growth that occurs in milk.If your’e using milk for tea or coffee, a good tip is to freeze some in an ice cube tray to make it last longer. Then simply pop out one or two cubes each time you put the kettle on. Cheese is a good staple to get hold of as it lasts for months in the fridge before opening and can be added to all sorts of meals for extra flavour. Try adding Halloumi to curries as an alternative meat.
It’s important to try and add vegetables to your meals wherever possible as they’ll provide nutrients and vitamins to keep you healthy. You can keep them fresh by storing them in airtight containers in your fridge, and even pre-chopping and freezing them. Buying bags of frozen mixed vegetables as a backup is always a great idea, as you can sprinkle a handful into most pasta and curry dishes, or even into rice!
Oil and Herbs
Oil is used in every meal, but once opened, it only has a shelf life of up to two months. You can get creative with fresh herb flavours using an ice tray, by chopping up your herbs and garlic and adding a sprinkle into each cube before freezing. This way, you will still be able to enjoy that fresh herb taste in your meals, without having to go and buy more. Now might be a good time to start growing little pots of fresh herbs in your kitchen – these will last for ages and you’ll never need to buy your favourites in the supermarket again!
Most other foods that come pre-prepared can be frozen until you need to use them, so you can really start to get creative and make your food last for much longer than usual. Remember to use as many vegetables as you can, and keep meals balanced by adding different food types to every plate.