How to make the most of your food in a lockdown
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing for the first time what it’s like to not have all of the food we want available to us all of the time. With restaurants closed, supermarket shelves often bare and restrictions placed on when we can go to get groceries, now is not the time to let food go to waste. As temperature experts, here’s our top tips for making the most of your food during this difficult time.
Cook to perfection
As we always say, use temperature, not time, as your cooking guide. This will ensure that your food is neither under or over cooked, so that you can enjoy it knowing it is both safe and delicious. Also the yummier it is, the less likely you are to throw any away! Read our full guide to temperature-based cooking here.
One of the many reasons that stockpiling is not a good idea is that overstuffing your fridge or freezer can cause your food to get too warm and therefore spoil more quickly.
Before you go shopping, check what’s in your fridge and the expiry dates on everything so that you can plan exactly what you need and ensure not to overshop. When you open new things make sure you wrap them up to preserve their life, and write the dates on things so you remember when you opened them.
The Food Standards Agency recommends that the temperature in your fridge should be between 0 and 5°C, but the number on your dial doesn’t always accurately reflect the temperature that your food is being kept at. If you don’t have a fridge thermometer, you can keep a glass of water in your fridge overnight and then use your Thermapen to take its temperature in the morning. If it’s not between the recommended temperatures you will need to adjust your dial.
The freezer is your friend
Instead of filling your freezer with stockpiled items, make sure you have space to freeze anything and everything that’s going to go to waste. If you know you always struggle to get through an entire loaf of bread before it begins to go stale – freeze a few slices when you open it. You can do the same with milk, eggs, yoghurt, pasta, fruits and vegetables and even some hard cheeses such as cheddar and gouda. Pre-packaged food can be frozen right up to the ‘use-by’ date and homemade food should be frozen as soon as possible.
Love your leftovers
Everyone loves leftovers, but you’ve got to make sure you store them right. Cooked food must be quickly cooled from 55°C to 20°C throughout within two hours before refrigerating or freezing. Once refrigerated it should be eaten within two days.
To defrost foods before cooking, such as meat and fish, don’t do it at room temperature. Defrosting foods fully in the fridge is the only way to ensure harmful bacteria that cannot be killed by cooking doesn’t form. Once the food has defrosted it should be eaten within 24 hours.
To reheat your leftovers, they must reach 75°C and be held at this temperature for two minutes throughout. Read our full guide to storing and reheating your leftovers here.
Find a use for everything
Now is a time to be more experimental with your cooking. If you have a fridge full of random vegetables, throw them all into a curry. If you have ingredients that need using up, search for new recipes that feature them. Appreciate the versatility of basic ingredients and use up every scrap to create new things. When we looked into how many ways we could use up our roast chicken leftovers we were really surprised!
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