How to Store Food in Your Fridge and Freezer

There’s nothing more disheartening (or unappetising) than a fridge full of bendy carrots, wet salad and questionable leftovers. Even though it happens to the best of us, there’s really no reason for it to happen at all – effective food storage is an art we can all master!

Keeping the food in your fridge fresh is going to save you a lot of bother. It’ll mean less trips to the supermarket, less cleaning manky veg drawers and less money wasted. It’s estimated that the average UK family chucks out around £350 worth of food every year! Here are a few ideas to help keep the contents of your fridge, freezer and household budget looking healthy.

How to Properly Store Food in Your Fridge

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When it comes to food storage, it’s all about keeping your cool. The Tetris approach will not work for your fridge. Piles of food will stop the cold air flow and things will quickly warm up. What happens next isn’t pretty, or fragrant. Avoid off-food disasters in your fridge with our storage hacks.

Air flow is vital for vegetables, keeping lettuce crisp and peppers pert. These Fridge store boxes have vents for airflow and a perforated inner basket to drain away excess water. Any moisture that does collect doubles up as a reservoir, preventing herbs and salad from drying out too quickly. They also make your fridge look nice and tidy, which is a bonus!

Once you’ve sliced into a piece of fruit or veg, don’t just bung it back in the box. From avocado halves to lemon wedges, find the tailormade food covers for your odds and ends. These reusable containers protect things from drying out as well as sealing in the pong of sliced onion, stopping the smell from taking over your fridge!

Of course, some veg might still go past its prime. If that happens, it’s time to make soup. Neglected potatoes, leftover roast veg and end-of-life cheese can be transformed in an all-blitzing soup maker. Extra portions can be stowed away in specially designed Soup ‘n Sauce Bags. These sturdy resealable bags can stand on your fridge shelf or be stacked flat in your freezer. The write-on panels make for easy labelling, you’ll never be faced with mystery leftovers again!

What’s the Best Way to Store Hot Food in The Fridge?

Working out the best way to transfer pre-cooked meals into the fridge is always a hot topic. We’ve got what you need to dish up, preserve and enjoy your meals.

Food storage containers with well-fitting lids are the right approach. Line up your Tupperware of choice (we recommend these stackable snap-shut storage boxes) and start portioning up. Before you do anything else, let the steaming food stand for a bit. Otherwise, you’re heating up your fridge as much as you’re cooling down your dish.

Once it’s close to cold, you can pop on the lids or wrap your plate in cling film and transfer your portions to the fridge or freezer. Embracing the practice of labelling your containers is an easy way to make sure you know how long things have been in the fridge for. A fridge will protect your leftovers for a few days, just make sure it’s piping hot when you come to reheating and eating.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Meat in The Fridge?

Special attention should be paid to meaty leftovers. It’s a stomach-churning thought, but bacteria can move fast to interfere with your meal plans. Once you’re finished cooking, meat destined for the fridge should be cooled quickly on a windowsill and moved to the fridge within 2 hours.

Keep tabs on the temperature of your fridge – the ideal is between 0°C and 5°C. You’re going to need to finish your food within 3-4 days. Beyond that, you might be pushing your luck. So, label up. And remember, only heat through the portion you plan on eating, you don’t want to risk reheating any leftovers repeatedly as bacteria has a better chance of forming.

It’s always wise to keep leftovers on the higher fridge shelves to prevent anything dripping onto the containers. This is especially important in meat-eating households where you might have raw meat in the fridge. If you’ve got open packets of raw meat, store those on low shelves and take some leak prevention measures. Use large food storage bags to seal open packets and enjoy your leftovers with peace of mind.

How to Efficiently Store Food in Your Freezer

We don’t want to overstate it, but nailing the art of home freezing, if you haven’t already, is probably going to transform your life. With a freezer full of hearty meals and ready-to-go ingredients you’ll waste less and even eat more healthily. Move over oven chips!

Unlike fridges, freezers work best when they’re nicely full. It works more efficiently, so stocking up will save you energy as well as a trip to the supermarket.

Batch-cooked foods like soup, Bolognese, curry, chilli and stew are brilliant for freezing flat in reusable freezer bags. This technique uses less room than bulky half-filled containers. If you’re really serious about saving space, try using vacuum seal pouches and make the most of every drawer and shelf. Your flat portions or frozen food will defrost quicker too, thanks to the larger surface area. Weeknight meals in minutes!

Another master hack is dividing multipacks of foods, like sausages and chicken breasts, into smaller portions. That way, you won’t need to defrost and cook the whole pack when you only want a couple of bangers.

Ice trays are great way to portion up other ingredients. You can freeze blocks of cream, fresh herbs in olive oil, chopped garlic or slices of butter – perfect for dropping into soups and stews.

Most everyday essentials are also freezer safe. There’s nothing worse than coming home and realising there’s no milk for your morning coffee or bread to make toast. But both these items can be frozen, so you’ll never be caught out!

What Temperature Should Frozen Food Be Stored At?

To keep your frozen food in top condition, aim for a freezer temperature of 0°F (-18°C) or lower. At this chilly temperature, the water content of food transforms into ice, putting the brakes on bacterial growth. Freezing food also locks in freshness, flavour and nutrition, so make the most of this food storage space!

If you want to get it absolutely right or are just worried about the performance of your old fridge or freezer, invest in a thermometer. That way, you’ll be able to check in on your frozen goods and make sure everything’s as chilled as can be!

How Long Can You Freeze Meat?

While different meats and different ways of cooking can affect freezer shelf life, there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind. Raw meat can probably withstanding freezing for 9 months, or even up to a year. After that, you might find it dry and less tasty.

When it comes to cooked meat, the freezing duration will be shorter as the quality tends to decline more rapidly after cooking. Generally, cooked meats can be frozen for 2-6 months. It’s important to keep rummaging through your freezer so you know what’s there and can enjoy your meat at its best.

How Should Dried Foods be Stored?

At Lakeland, we take our snacking just as seriously as we take our mealtimes. Preserving open crisps and dried fruit is just as important to us as storing spaghetti and cereals.

Fortunately, we’ve got food boxes and containers for every occasion! With stackable flat lids and a rectangle shape, OXO food storage containers mean you’ll also be able to keep your kitchen cupboards neat and organised. These larger food boxes are great for things like rice and granola, with dispenser lid options available for easy pouring and storing.

For the short shelf-life groceries, take a different approach. These drawstring bread bags are designed to stop your loaf from drying out and going stale. The only time we want to see blue mould on our bread is when it’s smothered in stilton! Or, if you want to see your carbs take pride of place on your kitchen counter, use a bread bin. We’ve inverted the classic design and these stackable bread bins are ‘upside down’ for easier loaf access. You’re welcome.

Last but not least, the humble potato. Sprout-free spuds are all you’ll ever find in the Lakeland Potato Bag. Made from breathable material with a liner that blocks out light, the bag allows air to circulate, keeping your potatoes mash or roastie-ready for longer. The unique ‘trap door’ opening means your potatoes will roll out in the order they were bought, so no spuds will go neglected.

Whether you’re freezing homecooked meals or preserving fresh ingredients, these food storage tips could be revolutionary. Keep exploring our Inspiration pages and find lots more home organisation ideas and plenty more ways to spend smart and live well.

Food Storage Solutions

Stayfresh Longer Bags

Stayfresh Longer Bags

They might just look like ordinary bags, but store your fruit and vegetables in one of these in the fridge and they’ll, erm, stay fresh longer – strawberries up to five days longer. And broccoli and carrots will last a whopping twice as long as in ordinary polythene bags. Now there’s no excuse to not eat your greens.

Soup ‘n’ Sauce Bags

Soup ‘n’ Sauce Bags

If some of your veg is starting to look a shadow of its former self, then make soup. Soup loves leftovers and forgotten-about veg. So chuck in all those bits and bobs – the lone half onion, the courgette from the back of the fridge, the no longer snappy sugar snap peas that you might otherwise throw out, and blitz them up into soup, which you can freeze and enjoy another day. Our Soup ‘n Sauce Bags are just the ticket for storing your soupy endeavours. They stand up on their own so they’re easy to fill, and have write-on panels for easy labelling. Super.

Lakeland Drawstring Bread Bags

Lakeland Drawstring Bread Bags

Mould on blue cheese – lovely (if you like that sort of thing). Mould on your now-no-longer-edible loaf – not so lovely. Help is at hand. Thanks to their polythene liners, these drawstring bags help stop your bread from drying out and going stale – ideal for home-made bread, or if you’ve bought a lovely crusty baguette or artisan loaf and want to enjoy them at their best, right down to the very last crust.

Lakeland Banana Bag

Lakeland Banana Bag

Yes, we have fresh bananas. That’s because we keep ours in a Banana Bag. It provides them with the exact amount of insulation and airflow needed to stop them from overripening in the fridge for up to two weeks – twice their normal lifespan. And there’s a cheeky little monkey on the outside too. What’s not to love? But if you do let those bendy beauties go a bit beyond their best, you can always make banana bread.

Lakeland Potato Bag

Lakeland Potato Bag

If your spuds usually go green and sprouty before you’ve had a chance to use them, make sure it doesn’t happen again by keeping your Maris Pipers or your King Edwards in one of these special bags. Made from breathable material with a liner that blocks out light, the bag allows air to circulate, keeping your potatoes mash or roastie-ready for longer, and the ‘trap door’ opening means you use them in the order they were bought, helping to minimise waste. Don’t be tempted to put onions in too – they won’t get on.

Lakeland Fridge Stores

Lakeland Fridge Stores

Sick of wrinkly peppers and wilted salad leaves? These Fridge Stores have vents for airflow and a perforated inner basket to drain excess water to help keep fruit, veg, herbs and salad fresh and unsoggy. And the outer container acts as a reservoir to help prevent herbs and salad from drying out too quickly.

Covermate Food Covers

Covermate Food Covers

From opened fruit punnets to plates of leftovers, these reusable, perforated, muiltipurpose food covers will stretch to fit and keep your food fresh and protected, without you having to resort to wasteful cling film. And during the warmer months, they’re ideal for covering plates, bowls and cups when you’re outside too. Sorry, beasties.

Vacuum Sealers

Vacuum Sealers

Offering a practical and versatile alternative to traditional food storage methods, vacuum sealing prolongs the life of your leftovers, freshly cooked food or just-bought groceries and meat and fish for up to five times longer. So you’ll throw away less and save money in the long run. And as all the air is sucked out of the storage bags, it makes your food easier to store in your fridge or freezer too.

Make friends with your freezer

And talking of freezing – we’ve been home freezing experts for over 50 years so we’ve learnt a thing or two over that time. Have a read of our blog to find hints and tips on how to get the most out of your freezer and help you cut down on food waste – here’s just a few ideas to get you thinking.

  • Batch-cooked foods like soup, Bolognese, curry, chilli and stew are brilliant for freezing flat in Soup ‘n’ Sauce Bags or reusable freezer bags. And not only do they save tons of space when you stack them, they defrost quicker too.
  • Take mince out of its bulky plastic container, put it in a freezer bag, then flatten it out so it’s easier to store.
  • Freeze leftover wine (it happens) in ice cube trays so you can use them in your cooking.
  • Fresh herbs can be frozen in olive oil ready for cooking as and when you need them. Or freeze them in water for adding flavour to soups and stews.
  • Divide multipacks of foods like sausages and chicken breasts into smaller portions so you don’t have to defrost and cook the whole pack when you only want a couple of bangers.
  • Make larger batches and store individual meal-sized portions in separate bags and containers. That way, if the fusspots in your family don’t want what you’re having, you can still please everyone.
  • Remember, everyday essentials like bread and milk can be frozen if you have gaps to fill in your freezer – a full, well-organised freezer is a happy freezer as it works more efficiently, and saves energy too, as less cold air escapes when you open the door to get something out.

Our top 10 hints & tips to prevent food waste

  1. Keep tabs on the temperature of your fridge – the ideal is between 0°C and 5°C.
  2. Store bananas separately from other fruit – the ethylene that bananas give off will make other fruit ripen quicker.
  3. Don’t pile your fridge high. It will stop cool air circulating and things will start to warm up and bacteria will see it as an invitation to move in.
  4. Line your salad drawer with paper towels to stop things getting soggy. Our Fruit & Vegetable Cushion is a good call too.
  5. Some people swear by wrapping veg like celery and broccoli in foil to keep it crisp.
  6. Don’t keep mushrooms in the fridge as they get too wet, and nobody wants slimy fungi. Keep them in a cool, dry place in a brown paper bag.
  7. Apparently, the best way to store onions is in tights. Pop them in one at a time, tie a knot between each one and hang them up in a dry, dark place.
  8. Don’t be a slave to best-before dates. They’re usually just a recommendation on how long your food will be at its best. Use your common sense and employ the look and sniff test. Use-by dates are another matter – always err on the side of caution when it comes to things like meat, dairy and fish. Food poisoning is nobody’s idea of a good time.
  9. Wrap cheese in porous paper. Parchment paper works well as the cheese can still breathe. Don’t use cling film unless you fancy a sweaty brie.
  10. Cut the roots off root vegetables – they nick all the nutrients, causing your veg to dry out quicker.