Don't you hate it when you clean out the fridge and have a bunch of leftovers from weeks gone by? One way to help keep track of you leftovers is to put a leftovers list on the door of your fridge. When you put something in there, write down what it is and the date. When you remove it, cross it off the list.
This is a church idea that works at home too. Keep a roll/pkg of small labels in the fridge, and put a dated label on every package, jar, container etc that you put in. Little extra work, but no food poisoning!
Good ideas! I have a particular problem with this because some years ago I lost my sense of smell. Now it is difficult for me to tell if leftovers are still good. I think I'll combine both methods to help keep track of this stuff.
One trick I learned many years ago from a friend who had no sense of smell (this was before I lost mine) was to always keep a cat. He would go to the animal shelter and pick out the homeliest kitten they had and feed it mostly table scraps. Then when in doubt about any food he'd just give some to the (very unpicky) cat. If she'd eat it he would too. I do this some now but my cat is spoiled rotten so it is a less reliable test with her. If she's less than impressed with something she'll just turn up her nose and wait for something she likes better.
This is a great idea....especially when you have such a busy hectic life ....and for those of us whose memories aren't what they used to be. I'm pretty good about knowing when I fixed something and I like to use it up within just a few days....if it's worth freezing then I like to get it in the freezer soon if we're not gonna eat it up quickly. I've had food poisoning....not in my own house tho...but it is not fun....so I probably pitch food before it's really bad. Now a days if it's not enough to mess with or we didn't really like it that much, it just goes in the trash after dinner. I hate wasting food but I kinda know if something will be eaten at a later date.
Oh and I don't think you need to smell things to know if they are still good. I've seen shows on TV about this and most things do not keep very long at all....so I just pitch after 3 or 4 days. It can already have bacteria growing in it but smell perfectly fine. Also you need to get foods in the frig shortly after the meal....leaving food out for too long is a bad habit to get into. My mother in law always leaves food out for people to help themselves later in the day but yuck....I don't want to eat something when it's set out for hours!
I've been reading the comments about throwing out food and food scraps and feel sad at the waste of a resource which should NEVER go into landfill. Maybe if you live in a flat 12 stories up in a condiminium it may be unavoidable, but if you live in a home with even the tiniest of gardens there is no need to waste anything. I feed all food scraps to our various birds and animals, plus to the wild birds which know that I'll put out food for them. What doesn't get eaten, plus any manure the animals have left (we don't have a dog, by the way) gets buried in a hole in the garden then covered with soil. As each hole fills I move along to the next section of garden soil. This fertilises the plants and at times I get the bonus of the most nutritious potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetabels in return from seeds which have grown - and I didn't have to do a thing for them. Any pieces of paper, cardboard or other similar non-plastic waste is used as mulch to save loss of water by evaporation (I cover the paper or cardboard with leaves or other better looking mulch) and of course that also finally rots down to help improve the soil even more. I re-use plastic margarine containers for freezer storage, I recycle glass jars for jams and pickles. By the way if fruit becomes soft, don't chuck it - turn it into jam or fruit butter before it goes off. Do the same with vegies - make soup, or mash it up, add an egg and some flour and seasoning and make delicious vegies patties or whatever. Wash plastic bags (except those that have had meat stored in them), hang them to dry and re-use them to save buying new ones to use. Then use them to put real waste into to dispose of when they are not able to be used again.There is hardly anything goes into the rubbish from our house!
As far a dating jars and containers, I use the dry erase markers since I have a dry erase calendar on my fridge. I usually just write on the calendar what I fixed on what day. Then if there are leftovers, I can look right at the calendar and know when it was fixed!
I keep a dispenser of scotch tape near the fridge, on which I write the date and/or any useful info w/ a sharpie. This can easily be removed when you wash the container. I do this with fridge and freezer stuff, and also containers in my pantry. Have decided now to write on tin cans as well.
Works well for me.
I find that keeping "by shelf" (all of the cheese on one shelf, eggs, bacon on one shelf, etc.) is helpful of keeping track of food, along with labels I keep magnet clipped to the fridge. This is also helpful for making a shopping list. Additionally, I use my Reynolds handivac on things that aren't necessarily being frozen, but keep much longer; deli meat and cheese for one. Also, I keep a space just for left overs. I give everything three days before it is used, frozen or dehydrated (I'm surprised at how much THAT appliance has saved - tomatoes getting soft get dried. Sundried tomatoes!!)
But also, when I cook something, I have in mind two or three recipes for leftovers already, and get them out.
I like the idea of a list on the fridge, but *sigh* we're just not organized enough - we start a list, then throw it out three months later the next time we notice it!
I do have two tricks to tame the Leftovers Monster:
1. I have certain shelves for leftovers, and leftovers must not go anywhere else! (I've found 6-month-old leftovers on the very top shelf, but not very often - after 40 years my hubby is pretty well trained.)
2. I use cheap removable labels from office supplies to label my leftovers. You can write on them in ordinary pen (no expensive Sharpies!), and if you don't let them get wet, they peel right off of any container or freezer bag. I use the teeny-tiny size, and write the name of the item and the date ("Thu 12/25" for fridge, "12/25/08" for freezer); if anything more is needed ("Add salt" or "Needs more cooking"), I use a bigger label.
I also use the food labeling idea. I put most of my leftovers in zip lock bags and if it's gone bad I just throw the whole thing out...don't even have to open it up..lol....i do use fine line marker on my labels because if it gets wet, it's a mystery as what's in there and how long it's been there...and it's true, food poisoning is one thing i never want to experience again...thanks for all the hints
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