Food waste and food safety are always primary concerns, and now more than ever, the spread of COVID-19 makes clean cooking and preparation practices essential to safeguarding good health. To help streamline the process and provide added peace of mind, Chef Mareya Ibrahim – America’s “Fit Foodie” – offers her top 8 zero-waste kitchen safety tips ahead of September, which is National Food Safety Awareness Month. She also talks about it in depth on episode 64 of her podcast, Recipes For Your Best Life. Link to the full episode below.
When it comes to safe, efficient food consumption, proper cleansing and storage play a major role.
1. Wash Your Hands, Surfaces, Bags and Food: Never before has being diligent about hand washing and cleaning contact surfaces more important. You should also think about your produce and any bulk items. While cleaning with water alone can accelerate the degradation of fresh produce, cleaning your fruit and veggies with an all-natural wash like Eat Cleaner Triple Action Fruit + Veggie Wash can help it last up to 5x longer and remove over 99% more unwanted residue. You can also use Eat Cleaner to wash bulk grains and beans. If you’re taking reusable bags to the store, make sure they’re clean and washed, too.
2. Keep Your Fridge Tidy: Overfilling your fridge could prevent cool air to properly circulate, so avoid stacking or piling up bags and containers. Remove outer packaging to avoid potential contamination and bacteria and keep shelf stable items in the pantry until needed. Wipe out spills and get rid of leftovers over 4 days old before ‘restocking’ the fridge. Choosing clear containers can help extend shelf life and guide you in prioritizing which ingredients might be getting past their prime. It’s best to write the ‘cook date’ on the storage bag or container with a sharpie. Store items strategically (i.e. simple sauce and marinade ingredients on the top shelf, washed veggies in clear containers, dairy items on the bottom shelf) so you know what you have and where to find it.
3. Watch Your Time and Temp: Know that time and temperature are the enemies of perishable foods. If it’s over 90F out, don’t let them sit out for more than an hour – and that includes a trip home from the grocery store on a hot day! Consider taking cooler bags for longer commutes, and make sure to pack perishables and cut produce on ice. To keep food from spoiling, the ideal fridge temp is 36-38F. The coldest parts are the back and the bottom, best for dairy items, eggs, uncooked meats and cut produce.
4. Frozen has its Features: Don’t give the frozen aisle the cold shoulder. Frozen fruit and veggies are available year-round and are picked ripe to retain optimal flavor. The freezing process can actually help preserve their nutrient content and diminish the presence of bacteria more than when they are picked and shipped fresh. Many organic options abound there, too.
5. Maximize Ingredient Use: Nothing is worse than buying an ingredient for a recipe and only using a teaspoon of it! Mareya shows how to make ‘Convertible Meals’ by cooking just a few ingredients and making dozens of different meals with them and varying flavors with spices and sauces – so you avoid spoilage and keep it exciting. Tip: Leftover fresh dill, parsley, oregano, basil and rosemary can be stored in an old-school ice cube tray. Simply wash with Eat Cleaner and place a teaspoon of minced herbs in each compartment, adding EVOO over the top with a hint of pink salt and pepper – the perfect seasoning for sauteed veggies, grains and proteins.
6. Save All Bananas and Smoothie Leftovers: Never ever throw out overripe bananas! Just clean the skin, trim the ends, and save them in the freezer for smoothies and banana bread (try the recipe in my latest book). The peel contains over 30% of the fruit’s nutrients! Made too much smoothie? Freeze in an ice cube tray for your next smoothie, or put a popsicle stick in it and enjoy a frozen treat on a hot day. Sign up to receive our FREE ‘Save the Peels’ recipe and resource guide full of great ways to help you use the peels.
7. Prioritize Clean Snacking: “Eat your veggies” is the famous saying, and if you want to stay healthy without the pre-packaged snacks or trips to the fast food line, it’s a good one to live by. Mixed Root Potato Chips, Crunchy Flamin’ Chickpeas, Rainbow Veggie Quickles, and Zucchini Carpaccio and Arugula Stack are found in Eat Like You Give A Fork: The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive.
8. Meal Prep for Success: By having a plan, you’re able to save money, save food from waste and get the proper nutri9on into your body to fuel you to thrive! You also are more in control of food safety and the quality of the food when pick ingredients, you wash it, and control how it’s prepped and stored. For a free meal prep guide, shopping list, menu and videos, text FITFOODIE to 22828.