How to Keep an Organised Student Kitchen
Now that you’ve got all the gear, it’s time to store it properly, keep an organised student kitchen and start cooking great food!
Being able to prepare and cook food starts with good organisation. There is a French term used in professional kitchens call ‘mise en place’ – which means ‘everything in its place’.
Keep this phrase in mind when you cook by having all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start.
In this blog post, we will give you our top tips and advice regarding:
- Food Storage
- Food Labelling
Knowing the best way to store your food can extend its shelf life and ensure that you have the maximum time to make the most out of it. Conversely, a disorganised kitchen can ruin your food’s longevity, flavour and nutritional value… and items eventually find their way to the bin, not our bellies!
- Bottom Drawers – for salad, fruit and vegetables
- Bottom Shelf – the coldest part and is ideal for raw meat, fish and poultry. Make sure these items are wrapped up well.
- Top Shelf – the warmest part has the most consistent temperature and is therefore good for dairy and pre-prepared foods that don’t need cooking.
- Door – the warmest part in the fridge and best for foods containing preservatives, like condiments.
- If you open a can of food, like beans, but only use half of it, do not put the can in the fridge. Food can react with the metal when exposed to the air and go bad. Always transfer leftovers into a plastic tub.
- Make sure older food is eaten first and newer food is eaten later.
- Take everything out of the fridge once a month and clean the fridge with hot soapy water. Check all foods for freshness before returning to the fridge.
- Most fruit and vegetables will keep fresher for longer if stored in the fridge.
- Avoid pre-cut, pre-packaged, pre-washed produce, like salad, as it will go off quicker. Buy unwashed, whole produce instead.
- If they are in the same unit, store raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs below ready-to-eat food. Unwashed fruit and vegetables should also be kept separate from ready-to-eat food and above raw meat.
- Keep food covered. Helps to stop things falling in food. It is important to keep food covered to help protect it from harmful bacteria. This is especially important for cooked food. Always use containers or bags that have been designed to store food. Suggested food coverings include kitchen foil, cling film, plastic boxes with lids or freezer bags.
- Communicate with your flatmates about organising your shared fridge.
- Food can be frozen at any point up to the ‘use by’ date.
- Freezing fresh foods and portioned home-cooked meals is a great way to save food for later.
- Cooked food should be cooled before transferring into the freezer.
- Labelling and dating foods before you put them in the freezer will help avoid ‘Unidentified Frozen Objects’ (UFOs) in the future.
- Keep foods that are defrosting in the fridge in a covered container, below ready-to-eat food, or in a separate area of the kitchen away from other foods. When foods are defrosting, the liquid that comes out can contain harmful bacteria, which could spread to other foods.
- If you defrost raw meat and then cook it thoroughly, you can freeze it again. Just take care to defrost thoroughly and only re-heat once, until piping hot.
- It is safe to defrost food at room temperature, provided you intend to eat it as soon as it is thawed. Alternatively, defrost in the fridge overnight and plan to eat it within two days.
Understanding food labelling and dates mean is a simple way of reducing your food waste. The confusion between the different terms means some items get thrown out even though they are perfectly safe to eat. Here is a simple explanation of food labelling:
Products that quickly go off, like meat and fish, will have a ‘Use By’ date on it. Do not eat products after this date, as the food is at risk of bacteria growth and food spoilage. Always follow the storage instructions. Check to see if the food can be frozen, if you want to eat it at a later date. Foods can be eaten or frozen right up to the end of the ‘Use By’ date.
Products that are less perishable, like biscuits, dried or tinned foods, will have a ‘Best Before’ date on it. These dates refer to quality rather than food safety. Foods with a ‘Best Before’ date should be safe to eat after the ‘Best Before’ date, but they may no longer be at their best. One exception is eggs – do not eat eggs after the ‘Best Before’ date.
On the Blog
Don’t miss out on the rest of our top tips for cooking at university. Check out our Campus Cooking posts here:
- The Essential Student Cooking Kit
- The Best Places to Buy Food around Uni
- Easy Student Cooking Tips & Tricks
- Campus Cookery at the University of Manchester – course dates information
Need more inspiration? Check out our recipes page for tried and tested recipes that are simple to make at home.