My family has been transitioning to clean(er) eating over the past several months. We’re adding more natural, fresh and unprocessed foods to our diet to take better care of our bodies and our health. Long before I began clean eating, I’d moved to healthier food storage practices. It just makes sense to do everything I can to maintain the freshness of our food. These clean eating food storage tips are ones that have worked for my family for many years. If you’re choosing clean eating foods, it only makes sense to store those foods in the best, healthiest manner.
I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. Check with your medical care provider if you have any questions.
Why worry about food storage?
- Your Health – How you store your food can effect how much of the nutrients are retained and how quickly the food spoils.
- Food Freshness – How you store your food can impact it’s freshness and taste.
- Save Money – Food storage will prolong the shelf life (or freezer or refrigerator life) of food items. That means you’ll be able to use the food items you’ve purchased before they spoil.
- Save Waste – How you store food items will help keep them from spoiling quickly, which will reduce food waste.
- Save Time – Keeping food fresh and usable means you don’t have to make extra trips to the grocery store to replace spoiled food.
Clean Eating Food Storage Tips
Food Storage Factors
It’s important to understand the factors that can impact the quality of food when it is stored. You can print out your own copy of this Clean Eating Food Storage Factors free printable.
Understand Packaged Food Dates
Whether you’re standing in the store or in your own home, it’s important to understand those dates printed on the package of food you’re looking at so you know whether it’s still recommended or even safe to consume. You can grab your own copy of this Clean Eating Packaged Food Dates free printable to help you figure out those cryptic dates.
First In, First Out (FIFO)
The first in, first out or FIFO practice means that you eat the oldest food in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer first. This is how we eat food naturally harvested. We eat the ripest items first. Those are the ones that grew first. We should do the same with the packaged items that we purchase and store.
Set up your food storage so that you place the most recently purchased items in the back and move the oldest items to the front, rotating the inventory.
Label Food Items
Labeling items with the date allows you to keep track of the freshness of food items. You may think you’ll remember when you put the food item into storage, but trust me, life gets in the way and you won’t remember the date when you finally get around to using that item. Unless you have a miraculous memory, just face the fact that you need to mark the date on each item.
A simple Sharpie will help you organize your spices and keep track of the age of opened spices. Mark the date you opened the spice on the side and check it periodically so you know when it’s time to replace it.
A Sharpie and masking tape will help you label leftovers or food you’ve packaged yourself in your organized refrigerator, freezer or pantry.
Even if food will only be stored for one day, it’s important that you make sure that the container is safe for food storage. You don’t want harmful chemicals (or really, any chemicals) leaching into your food from the container.
Made in America – I prioritize purchasing food storage containers that are Made in the USA. I can’t confirm the manufacturing standards in other countries. While it’s not a guarantee, I do know that we have certain safety standards that manufactures must follow here in the U.S. There are other countries that I will purchase products from because I’m confident in their health and safety standards. I recommend you check the the manufacturing location of food storage containers and ask yourself if you feel confident in their health and safety standards before you purchase.
Glass – Glass containers have been used for centuries to safely store food items. I also appreciate that glass containers don’t absorb smells or stains from food like plastic containers do. I feel confident in using food safe glass food containers. I often use repurposed, recycled glass jars that are food safe, like the ones used with my trail mix labels. If the glass jar came filled with a food item sold at the grocery store, you can be confident that it is food safe.
- Can be used for storage in the pantry and the refrigerator
- Tempered glass containers can be used in the oven and microwave (always check your container closely before heating it in the oven or microwave)
- Are transparent, so you can readily see the contents
- Are a pretty storage option
- Can go on the top or bottom shelf of the dish washer (if your glass is painted or decorated, check first before placing in the dishwasher)
- Can be recycled (check for the recycle symbol)
Steel – Steel containers have been used for decades in food storage and preparation. Again, I look for steel containers that are Made in the USA so that I can feel confident that the container doesn’t contain any hazardous metals or chemicals. If I’m not able to find products that are made in America, I look for well-established companies that I feel I can trust.
- Are durable (won’t break or crack)
- Are lightweight
- Can be used for storage in the pantry and refrigerator
- Can often be washed in the dishwasher (check product’s use instructions first)
- Can be recycled (check your neighborhood’s recycling guidelines before you toss in your residential recycling bin)
Food-safe Plastic – I prefer to use glass or metal food storage containers, but there are some occasions when food safe (food grade) plastic storage containers make sense. When using plastic containers, I look for containers that are Made in the USA so that I feel more confident that they meet food safety guidelines.
When I Use Plastic Containers
- When young children will be handling the containers
- When traveling and I’m concerned about containers breaking. But you can choose steel containers for travel
- When mailing food items, like in college care packages
Do you have any clean eating food storage tips that work for you?
Clean Eating Recipes and Menu Planning
An entire week’s Clean Eating Menu Plan from my friend, Andrea at Homemade for Elle