Food Preparation & Storage Guide
The day our baby Harry came home from hospital I found a sudden urge to keep the whole house cleaner and tidier than before – much to my husbands joy. Then came the crawling, and the obsessive need to pick up every piece of fluff off the floor. This cleanliness continued into the starting of solids, and I found I needed a bit of a crash course in safe food preparation and a rough storage guide. Keeping your food clean and safe is essential for preventing food borne illnesses (food poisoning – ever had it? It’s vile) and maintaining good health within your family. While always unpleasant, food poisoning can be very serious and even life threatening among babies and young children.
Following these quick and easy tips can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of your family:
Keep your hands clean and kitchen tidy:
- Always wash your hands before handling or preparing meals and snacks.
- Use different towels for drying your hands and washing dishes.
- Ensure your kitchen benches, chopping boards, cookware and utensils are kept clean and dry.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them.
Separate raw and cooked food:
- Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw food and cooked or ready to eat food separate.
- Use different chopping boards and utensils for raw food and cooked food.
- Don’t let raw meat or poultry juices drip onto other food. Storing them on the bottom shelf or in a sealed container will prevent this.
Invest in good quality storage:
- Invest in some decent BPA-free baby food storage containers. The ice-cube style freezer trays with lids are perfect for single serve purees.
- Cover all stored food with tight-fitting lids, plastic wrap or tin foil.
- Once frozen, pop out the purees and place in a freezer proof plastic bag.
- Label any food storage containers with their ingredients and the date it was frozen.
- Do not re-freeze any foods/meals that have already been defrosted.
Keep cold foods cold:
- The ideal fridge temperature is less than 5°C.
- The ideal freezer temperature is less than -15°C.
- Put food that is meant to be kept cold into the fridge straight away. Allowing hot foods to cool slightly before storing in the fridge will prevent the fridge temperature from rising and reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
- Avoid eating or serving food that has been left out for 2 hours or more.
- Defrost and marinate meats in the fridge.
- Shop with a cooler bag if you are planning to be out-and-about after doing your grocery shopping or need to travel longer distances.
Cook and reheat food properly:
- Bacteria grow best between 5-60°C. Most foods should be cooked to at least 75°C to kill any bacteria – particularly meat, seafood, poultry and eggs.
- Meat, such as sausages and mince, and poultry should be cooked thoroughly and until the juices are clear. White fish should be cooked until it can be flaked easily.
- Reheat cooked meat and foods until steaming hot, allowing to cool to an appropriate temperature before serving to your baby.
Check food labels and packages carefully:
- Don’t eat foods that have passed their “use-by” date.
- Check packaged foods for their storage instructions and don’t hesitate to ask (if you can) about preparation and storage tips for unpackaged foods.
- Avoid buying packaged foods that are in dented, swollen, leaking or damaged packages.
- Avoid buying cracked or dirty eggs.
- When you are shopping keep hot and cold food separate.
- If in doubt, throw it out.
You will find conflicting advice on how long it is appropriate to keep food. Below is a general guide, although many suggest all food cooked for infants should be used within a month.
|Egg yolks||1 day||1-2 months|
|Meat/Poultry/Seafood||1 day||1-2 months|
|Meat/vegetable combination||1-2 days||1-2 months|
|Cooked fruits and vegetables||2-3 days||1-3 months|
Check out our freezing and defrosting guide for more information.Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.