March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
When stored properly, foods can remain safe and retain their quality, nutrients and flavor for longer. Store foods in the right container, at the right temperature and for the right length of time. Proper food storage will reduce your risk of food poisoning and also stretch your wallet since your food won't spoil as quickly.
The cupboard is a great place to store all your shelf-stable foods, from dry pasta to cookies.
Here are five tips on proper food storage in the cupboard:
- Keep your cupboards and pantry clean, dry, dark and cool — preferably away from heat-producing appliances. The best temperature range is 50°F to 70°F. High storage temperatures (above 100°F) lower the quality of canned foods.
- Organize your cupboards by placing older cans up front to use first. Canned foods have a long shelf life and, if stored properly, most unopened canned foods stay edible and keep their nutritional quality for more than two years. Most dried fruits and vegetables can be stored for four to 12 months.
- Be alert for food spoilage and never use food from cans that are cracked, bulging, leaking or that spurt liquid when opened.
- Store opened packages of dry foods, such as rice and pasta, in dry, airtight containers. This will keep out insects and rodents and keep food from obtaining odors.
- Store foods away from kitchen chemicals and household trash.