Although supermarkets curry some 25, 000 different products, most people eat the same 10 to 15 dishes, week in and week out. Here’s how to make better use of your shopping opportunities while improving your family’s diet.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
As you walk down the aisles of your supermarket, repeat to yourself: “less fat, more fiber.” That is the essence of the best scientiﬁc wisdom where the diet is concerned.
Think of the department’s dairy, produce, meat, and so on, as separate stores. Some are safe to browse in, others are not. Obviously, it’s safe to explore the produce department in a leisurely way, but it‘s probably best to zip in and out of the baked goods department as quickly as possible.
Organize your shopping so that cold foods go in the cart last. After leaving the store, take cold foods directly home and refrigerate. Never leave food (cold or not) in a hot car.
Never shop on an empty stomach if you can avoid it. A cup of soup or a plain bagel will take the edge off your appetite and reduce the temptation to buy calorie-rich “comfort foods.”
POINTERS FOR BUYING PRODUCE
Few vegetables are more firmly entrenched in American diets than iceberg lettuce, yet few have less nutritional value. There are, however, many greens have both interesting ﬂavors and more nutrients. Among them are Romaine (strong taste, used in Caesar salads), watercress (pungent; add to salads or sandwiches), red leaf lettuce (sweet-tasting), spinach (high in folacin and potassium), arugula (high in vitamin A; strong, peppery ﬂavor), Boston lettuce (sweet and delicate in flavor), chicory or curly endive (slightly bitter, mixes well with milder greens; radicchio is a red variety), parsley (a good source of vitamin A, though it’s often used as just a garnish), and dandelion (pungent; the youngest leaves make the best-tasting salads).
Fortunately, vegetables and fruit not only are cheapest when in the season but taste best too. Nature s ripening, not the hothouse, often provides the fullest ﬂavor. So, however beautiful out-of-season strawberries or blueberries may look, you won‘t miss much if you pass them by. (However, certain items, such as bananas, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and lettuces, are in the season year-round.)
Avoid vegetables in colored plastic bags. For example, when you buy carrots in orange-colored cellophane, it’s impossible to see if they‘re healthy-looking carrots or not.
As soon as vegetables and fruits are chopped up, they begin to lose some of their nutrients. Therefore, it’s best to buy them uncut. However, if buying, say, precut carrots help you to overcome your resistance to these vegetables, precut is better than none.
The rule on chopped vegetables and fruits does not apply to frozen foods. Many frozen varieties are as nutritious as the fresh versions.
When shopping for frozen vegetables, avoid those drenched in sauces.
it’s common knowledge that citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, but so are many other fruits and vegetables, including melons, pineapple, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, peppers, kale, and cauliflower.
Produce that has deep color is frequently high in vitamins. Red, yellow, and green peppers, for example, are high in vitamins A and C. With lettuce varieties, the general rule is, the greener the leaf, the higher the nutrient content.
Buy dried beans, also known as legumes, that are uniform in size and shape; they’ll cook more evenly. Always look for bright colors. The faded color indicates that the legumes have been in storage too long. Also, cracks, pinhole marks, and discolorations are signs that legumes may not be fresh.
Nearly all vegetables and fruits are low in fat. The exceptions are avocados, olives, and coconuts.
SELECTION AND STORAGE OF PRODUCE
Apples. Firm, unbruised, free of wrinkles, good color. Because apples ripen quickly, they should never be stored at room temperature for more than a day or two. Keep in a plastic bag in the crisper in the refrigerator; they should remain fresh and crunchy for two to four weeks.
Apricots. Never shipped fully ripe. Select orange-yellow fruit, relatively soft and plump. Avoid bruised fruit or that with a yellow-green tinge. Firm fruit will ripen quickly at room temperature away from direct sunlight in a well-ventilated place. Store ripe fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several days. Remember to remove apricots from the refrigerator 15 minutes or so before eating. Like cheese, apricots have a fuller, richer ﬂavor when served at room temperature.
Artichokes. Compact, heavy, plump globes; large, tightly clinging, ﬂeshy leaf scales, good green color. Baby artichokes can be eaten choke (the core) and all. When the tips of the leaves are hard or are spreading or separating, it’s a sign that the artichoke is overripe and likely to be tough and ﬁbrous. Sprinkle fresh artichokes with a little water, seal in a plastic bag, and keep in the refrigerator for up to a. week. Do not freeze.
Arugula. In Italy, it’s called rueola or rugala; in California, rocket. Older leaves are pungent. Look for fresh green color. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed plastic bag for no more than two or three days, and wash gently but thoroughly before using.
Asparagus. Firm, compact closed tips. Select the greenest asparagus; the farther down the stem the green extends, the fresher the vegetable. Avoid angular or fiat stalks, which indicate woodiness. Also, steer clear of asparagus stored at room temperature or with the ends soaking in water. To store, wrap the stem ends in moist paper toweling and refrigerate in a plastic bag for no more than two days.
Avocados. Heavy for their size, not wilted or bruised. Allow ripening at room temperature, preferably in a paper bag. When ripe, they may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Bananas. Yellow or green, plump, not bruised or split. Avoid grayish-yellow fruit, which indicates a chilling injury. Ripen fast at room temperature. When they are at the preferred stage of ripeness, eat immediately.
We are constantly told not to put bananas In the refrigerator, but it is perfectly safe to do so. The skin of a ripened (yellow) banana will turn brown in the refrigerator, but the ﬂesh will keep for two or more days.
Beans (green). Clear green, pods that are free of scars and discolorations, small seeds; avoid any bulging with seeds. Should feel velvety; snapping does not necessarily indicate freshness. Use promptly or refrigerate in a plastic bag for no more than two or three days. Wash just before using it.
Beets. The firm, with deep red-violet color, sprightly tops. Smaller beets are apt to have the best flavor and texture. Snap tops off after purchasing: they draw water and rob beets of nutrients. Refrigerate unwashed beets in a plastic bag for up to two weeks. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Green and red cabbage will last for a week or more; savoy for several days.
Cantaloupe. Smoothly rounded; depressed smooth scar at the stem end, slight softness at the blossom end. Golden color. Under gentle pressure, the ripe melon should “give” slightly; distinctive melony aroma indicates ripeness. If not ripe, keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for several days. It can then be stored in the refrigerator in plastic for several days.
Carrots. Firm, smooth, Well shaped, good orange color. Tops, if still attached, should be fresh and bright green. Remove tops after purchasing. As with beet greens, carrot tops rob nutrients. Avoid carrots that are wilted, ﬂabby, soft, shriveled, rough, or cracked. Small to medium carrots are likely to be sweeter-tasting than the larger ones. Wrapped in plastic, keep well in the crisper of the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Flabby carrots sometimes regain ﬁrmness when soaked in ice water.
Cauliflower. White to creamy white, clean, ﬁrm, compact, purplish varieties sometimes available. Leaves should be fresh and green. Avoid open flower clusters, spotted curds (they indicate bruising), heads with tops sliced off. Wrap the head in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Wash just before cooking.
Celery. Green outer stalks, crisp, clean, thick. Soft stalks are a sign of age; excessively hard stalks may be stringy or woody. Wrap celery tightly in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for a Week or m.ore. If celery becomes limp, it can often be restored by soaking in ice water.
Cherries. firm, highly colored (ranging from bright red to nearly black). Do not buy if soft, sticky, shriveled, or moldy. Cherries should be refrigerated as soon as possible after purchase. Store in plastic bags in crisper; they’ll keep for at least two days. Wash just before eating.
Com. Yellow or white with fresh green husks. It should be cooked the day it is picked, if possible. If this is impossible, remove the husks and silks, dip corn in a cold water bath, and wrap with plastic wrap. Store in the crisper; use within two days.
Cranberries. Plump, lustrous, firm, red to reddish black. Reject dull, soft, shriveled, or sticky berries. Cranberries may be frozen directly in freezer bags and will keep for up to nine months. Do not thaw before cooking but follow recipe directions using frozen berries.
Cucumbers. Reject cucumbers that a.re yellow, large in size, puffy, withered, or shriveled. Do not wash before refrigerating. All varieties keep well in the crisper for three to four days.
Except in summer, when local produce is available, most cucumbers you buy will be coated with a nontoxic wax, which makes them look shiny and helps to preserve them. If desired, remove the wax with a soft vegetable brush, or peel the cucumber, though peeling will diminish its nutritive value.
Grapefruit. White usually has a stronger ﬂavor than pink. Firm, springy; not soft, puffy, or loose-skinned. Heavy fruit has thin skins, more juice. Fruit with somewhat pointed stem ends tends to be thick-skinned. Skin that has russet or brownish markings or greenish tint does not indicate poor quality. Grapefruit will keep at room temperature for up to a week. To store, keep, covered, in the crisper in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Grapes. Green stems with smooth, plump fruit, not sticky. Dry stems indicate old age. Grapes do not continue to ripen after they are picked. The best way to test for sweetness is to taste one. Grapes are perishable and should be refrigerated as soon as possible after purchase. Store grapes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to live days. Wash gently and serve grapes chilled for the best ﬂavor.
Honeydew. Creamy yellow color and velvety surface show ripeness; blossom end should be soft. it’s difficult to know if the fruit will be sweet, but seek out a fragrant aroma. Ripen melons at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for several days. Then refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to a week.
Leeks. Green tops with medium-size necks; white at least two or three inches from the roots, which should be young, crisp, and tender. Avoid yellowed, wilted tops, which indicate age. Refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week.
Lemons. Rich yellow color, thin-skinned, heavy for their size, moderately firm. Tip should be full. Lemon will keep at room temperature for up to a week when stored away from heat and direct sunlight. For longer storage, seal lemons in a plastic bag and place in the covered vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, where they will keep for two to three weeks.
Limes. Domestic Persians are bright green, heavy for their size. Avoid those with purple or brown irregular-shaped spots. Store at room temperature for a week or in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for three weeks.
To extract the most juice from lemons and limes, roll them ﬁrmly on a countertop with the palm of your hand before squeezing them.
Mangoes. Varying in color from green With yellowish tinge to red. Red and yellow increase as fruit ripens. Reject those with grayish discolorations, pitting, or black spots, or ones that feel mushy. Keep mangoes at room temperature until they are quite soft, then eat promptly. If you have to refrigerate them, mangoes will keep a day or two after they ripen.
Mushrooms. White or brown, free of open caps, pitting, or discoloration. Caps are more tender than stems. Let any that feel damp-dry out at room temperature, but do not wash before refrigerating. Keep mushrooms in a brown paper bag covered with a damp paper towel, which will keep them fresh for four or ﬁve days. Clean with a damp paper towel just before using it.
Nectarines. Plump, highly colored, unblemished. Reject hard, dull fruit with signs of shriveling. Ripe nectarines will keep in a plastic bag for several days in the refrigerator.
Onions. Bright and hard Without sprouts; heavy for size. Those with a thick, tough, woody or open neck will be acceptable, but not the best. Moisture at the neck is a sign of decay. When kept dry and cool, onions will last for three or four weeks.
Oranges. For juice: firm, heavy, thin-skinned; for eating: slightly thicker skins are best. Color is no guide, as Florida oranges may be dyed. Avoid oranges that are light, puffy, or spongy; they lack juice. Oranges Will keep at room temperature for a week to 10 days when stored away from heat and direct sunlight. For longer storage, place oranges in the refrigerator in the covered vegetable crisper. They will keep there for two to three weeks.
Papayas. Medium rather than large fruit, well colored, at least half yellowish. Smooth skin, unbruised, with no signs of shriveling. Ripen in a perforated paper bag at room temperature or, more slowly, in the refrigerator, until yellow all over. Refrigerated, ripened papayas will keep for a week.
Parsnips. Pale, cream-colored. Choose firm, fairly smooth, well-shaped parsnips without soft, straggly rootlets. The flavor is enhanced by cold storage in the refrigerator. Large parsnips are tough. Discard the tops and refrigerate in a plastic bag in the crisper, where parsnips will keep from one to four weeks, depending on the quality of the vegetable.
Peaches. Yellowish background color and red blush, a general absence of greenness. Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator, spread out in a single layer to minimize bruising, for up to a week.
Pears. Firm, not wilted or shriveled. When ripe, Bartlett is yellow, Anjou green or greenish-yellow, Bosc dark yellow with cinnamon-russet overlay. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to ﬁve days.
Peas (green). Uniformly green, long pod, not too full. Because their sugar turns to starch quickly, peas should be consumed promptly. If they must be stored, keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day or two and shell just before using.
Peppers. Firm, bright, thick-fleshed. Color should be yellow, green, green and red, or completely red. Red peppers are ripe and sweet. Store in the crisper in a brown paper bag for up to two weeks. Green peppers generally stay fresh longer than mature red peppers.
Pineapples. Deep green crown leaves. The fragrance is a sign of flavor. Pulling out crown leaves is not a reliable test of ripeness. Do not count on ripening a pineapple after it has been harvested. Choose as large fruit as possible, and one that‘s heavy for its size, it will be juicier. Refrigeration is not recommended, but, if necessary, a pineapple “ill keep for several days wrapped in plastic.
Plums. Plump, full-colored. Choose fruit just beginning to soften. Plums keep for several days in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Store such delicate, easily bruised fruits as berries and plums without washing them. Rinse the fruit just before you plan to eat it or cook It.
Pomegranates. pink or bright-red rind. Reject hard and dry fruits. Store for several days at room temperature or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Potatoes. Firm, relatively smooth, not badly cut or showing green; no sign of wilting or sprouts. Keep cool, dark, and well ventilated; a paper bag is a good storage container. At 45°F to 50°F (7°C-10°C), potatoes will keep well for several weeks, new potatoes for somewhat less time. At higher temperatures, potatoes will not last much more than a week, new potatoes for less time.
Radishes. Smooth, well-formed, ﬁrm, crisp, without black spots or pits. Avoid those that are pithy, spongy, or wilted. If tops are on, they should be fresh and green. Remove tops after purchasing, as with beets and carrots. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to two weeks. Like celery, Limp radishes will perk up after a brief bath in ice water.
Rhubarb. Firm, crisp, tender, bright, not, too-thin stalks. Younger stems have immature leaves and are the most tender (do not eat the leaves; they are toxic). Oversize stalks may be tough. Tenderness, crispness can be tested by puncturing the stalk. Use promptly or store stalks, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator crisper for up to one week.
Spinach. Good green color, though small yellowish-green leaves are okay. Large yellow leaves are not. Store unwashed in the refrigerator in a. sealed plastic bag for no more than two or three days. Wash thoroughly just before using it.
Squash. Soft-skin squash should be tender, crisp, and fairly heavy in relation to size. Hard-rind squashes should have no soft spots. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for four to six days.
Strawberries. Clean, bright, solid red color, caps in place; free of moisture and mold. Discard any that are softened or bruised. Store with caps on in a single layer in the refrigerator. Berries will keep for several days.
Sweet potatoes. Firm, bright, good coloring. Keep dry; do not refrigerate. If stored at room temperature, use within a week. If stored in a cool, dry place, they will keep for several months.
Tangerines. Heavy for size, deep orange to almost red. Puffy appearance and feel are normal; softness is not. Store at room temperature for about a week or for several weeks in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper.
Tomatoes. Buy only in the season when local harvests are available. Bright red, ﬁrm but yielding to pressure. Out of season, buy cherry tomatoes; for cooking, plum tomatoes. For best taste, do not refrigerate and serve at room temperature.
Turnips. Smooth, firm. If tops are on, they should be green, young, and crisp. Remove after purchasing. Reject those with very large or coarse roots. To store, place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper, Where they will keep for about a week.
Watercress. Young, crisp, tender, rich medium-green leaves. Watercress is quite perishable, so refrigerate immediately in plastic bags. Use within a day or two of purchase. Wash just before using it.
Watermelons. Firm, symmetrical, attractive, waxy bloom, lower side varying in color from somewhat yellowish to creamy yellow. Very hard melons with white or very pale green undersides are probably immature. Avoid those that look dehydrated. Sweetness in whole melons is hard to determine without plugging and tasting; in slices, look for ﬂesh that has a deep red color, firm texture, dark seeds, and no streaks. Uncut melons will keep at room temperature or in a cool room for several days. Cut melon, tightly Wrapped in plastic, will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
To get the most nutrients from produce, buy only what you can use in a few days. If fruits and vegetables tend to sit in your refrigerator for a week or more, you’re better off with frozen produce it may retain more vitamin C than fresh produce that becomes wilted or pallid before you can eat it.
If you notice cartons of eggs sitting in the supermarket aisle waiting to be shelved, don’t buy them. Eggs can easily spoil when they are left unrefrigerated.
Always open the carton and look at the eggs before you put it in your cart. even one egg is cracked, select a new carton. Cracked eggs are particularly vulnerable to bacterial contamination, such as salmonella. And once a carton is soiled with raw egg, bacteria can spread to the surfaces of other eggs.
Store eggs in their carton on an inside shelf of the refrigerator. Putting them in the little slots on a refrigerator door, which is repeatedly opened and closed, can cause temperature ﬂuctuations; this accelerates spoilage as well as increases the risk of breakage. The carton also prevents eggs from absorbing the odors and ﬂavors of other foods.
THE DAIRY CASE
Gradually change from high-fat dairy products to low-fat. For example, if your family drinks whole milk (3.5 percent to 4 percent fat content), switch to 2 percent milk, then 1 percent. Eventually, you may want to buy only skim (fat-free) milk.
Don’t put milk in your shopping cart until right before you‘re ready to pay. The less time that milk remains unrefrigerated, the less chance of its being spoiled.
Look for varieties of cheese that contain three grams of fat per ounce or less. That means you may have to switch from Cheddar, Swiss, and American cheeses. Fresh goat cheese often sold at farmers’ markets is a tasty alternative.
STORING DAIRY PRODUCTS
Close milk and cream cartons tightly so they do not absorb the odors or ﬂavors of other refrigerated products.
Keep nonfat dry milk in a tightly closed container at room temperature to prevent it from getting lumpy or stale.
Cover soft cheeses tightly and keep them refrigerated. Hard cheese does ﬁne in a cool, dark place.
If mold develops on soft cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or sweet or sour cream, discard the entire product. If mold develops on hard cheese, cut off an area an inch in circumference around the mold. The rest will be edible.
BREAD, CEREAL, AND RICE
Check the label on the bread packaging. A fiber-rich loaf is one that contains two or more grams of ﬁber per slice. Also check for sodium. Choose brands with fewer than 200 milligrams per serving.
The most nutritious breads are the least refined; however, darker bread is not always more nutritious than highly refined white bread since caramel color is often added to rye, pumpernickel, and whole wheat bread.
Select cereals with whole grains wheat, rye, oat, or corn listed first on the label.
Watch out for granola-style cereals, which are often high in fat because nuts and oils have been added.
Know how to read the new cereal and bread labels so you can choose the most nutritious products. For example, a label that reads “high in oat bran” can appear only on foods that meet the government‘s standards for “high” fiber or “good source” of ﬁber. Good sources have 2.5-4.9 grams per serving. High fiber foods have at least 5 grams.
Try brown rice instead of polished, refined White rice or instant white rice. Brown rice contains much more ﬁber.
STORING GRAINS AND BREADS
Keep cereals, rice, and other grains in airtight containers. Exposure to light will destroy their riboﬂavin, so if the storage containers are glass, keep them in a dark cupboard.
Keep yeast bread wrapped in foil or plastic. Store them in a cool, dark place, like a breadbox. In hot, humid Weather, place the bread in the refrigerator to protect against mold. If mold does develop, discard any bread, cereal, or grain product.
Store whole-grain flours and crackers at room temperature, except in hot weather.
BUYING MEAT AND POULTRY
Avoid meat with marbling or visible chunks of fat. Meat or pork cuts labeled round or loin are among the least fatty choices. These include sirloin, tenderloin, pork loin, and top, bottom, and eye round.
Choose cuts of meat labeled “select” instead of “choice” and “prime,” which are the higher-fat versions.
If you buy packages of ground chicken or turkey, ask the butcher if skin or fatwas ground into the product, Or else buy a lean cut of meat, or a chicken or turkey breast, and ask your butcher to grind it Without the skin or fat.
Avoid self-basting turkeys, which are often injected with oils high in saturated fat. (You can make your own basting liquid With polyunsaturated oils, such as corn or safflower oil.)
Try chicken or turkey hot dogs, which have less fat than other varieties. Limit your consumption of these products twice a week.
KNOW YOUR FISH
Buy ﬁsh that is refrigerated or placed on thick layers of ice. Beware of stacked ﬁllets or Whole ﬁsh the topmost layer may not be cold enough to prevent deterioration. This also applies to fish displayed under hot lights.
Sole, haddock, monkish, Pollock, scrod, catfish, and many other species are low in saturated fat and calories.
Shellfish, such as shrimp, crayfish, and lobster, are low in saturated fat but relatively high in cholesterol. If you are concerned about your cholesterol level, limit shellfish consumption to twice weekly.
Select fresh fish that is clear and shiny, not milky, and without a fishy odor.
Whole ﬁsh that is fresh will have clear eyes.
If you buy canned tuna, choose water-packed. Oil-packed tuna may have 7 to 13 times as much fat as the tuna in water.
STORING MEAT, POULTRY, AND FISH
Loosely wrap meat, poultry, and fish and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The wrapping can be the original packaging, either plastic or butcher‘s paper. However”, if there is a lot of blood on the paper, rewrap the item before storing it.
When freezing meat, do not use ordinary plastic wrap, which can make it vulnerable to freezer burn (a result of the loss of moisture from prolonged exposure to air). Instead, wrap it in two layers of plastic freezer paper.
If you plan to keep shellﬁsh refrigerated for more than a few hours, place it on ice or at below-freezing temperatures. Use it within two or three days.
DESSERTS AND SNACKS
Satisfy a craving for sweets with fresh fruit. Some good combinations: a sliced peach, 1/4 cup each of strawberries and blueberries, and 1/2 cup honeydew melon balls; a sliced banana, a sliced orange, and a tablespoon of raisins.
Many crackers are high in both fat and sodium. Rice cakes, flatbreads, crispbreads, and graham crackers are among the lowest in fat, and some brands are entire without salt.
For low-fat cookies, choose vanilla-flavored wafers and gingersnaps.
THE DELI COUNTER
Choose freshly-cooked roast beef, baked ham, or chicken or turkey breast. Avoid such high-fat processed meat as liverwurst, bologna, and salami.
Ask to see the meat. before it is sliced. If fat is visible, ask if another cut is available. If not, consider an alternative.
Steer clear of mayonnaise and oil-based salads. If you prefer the convenience of ready-made salads, ask if they can be prepared with light mayonnaise, Which has half the fat. of the regular variety, or With fat-free dressing.
FOOD BY MAIL
Mail-order food has become a popular gift for friends and family members. Common sense demands that certain safety precautions be observed. Here are some facts to remember When sending or receiving food over long distances.
Be sure that the food is labeled properly. The packaging must indicate clearly that the item is perishable and the need for refrigeration if any.
Ask the supplier if the food will be shipped insulated or with a cold source. Dry ice is preferred. This may apply even to smoked, canned, or vacuum-packed meat or poultry products.
Alert the recipient to expect a delivery, to ensure that someone is there when it is due to arrive. Neither the mail-order company nor tho delivery company is responsible for the product if there is no one there to receive it.
When you receive a mail-order food product whose label says “Keep refrigerated,” use it only if it arrived well chilled. Otherwise, you may be courting danger.
Follow handling directions carefully for dry ice. Do not touch it or inhale the fumes.
IF YOU LOSE POWER
Normally, set the refrigerator below 40°F (4°C) and the freezer at or below 0°F (-18°C). If your power goes off, a full upright or chest freezer or a freezer compartment will keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen a day. Here’s what to do if there is a sudden power outage.
Keep the freezer door shut as much as possible if you expect the power to be restored fairly soon. Without power, the refrigerator section will keep food cool between four and six hours, depending on the kitchen temperature.
Add dry ice to the freezer unit; block ice can keep food on refrigerator shelves cool.
Refreeze food that still contains ice crystals or that feels refrigerator-cold when the power returns.
Take food to friends‘ freezers or a commercial freezer, or else use dry ice if you expect a prolonged power outage.
Discard any thawed food that has reached room temperature and remained there two hours or longer.
Throw away foods with a strange color or odor.
Don’t smell moldy food some molds can cause respiratory problems. Wrap up moldy food and discard it. Clean the refrigerator where it was sitting. Inspect foods nearby in case the mold has spread.
Transfer cooked food into shallow containers. Cover them tightly, and label date, and refrigerate them promptly. Bacteria multiply rapidly in warm food: the bacterial content of unrefrigerated foods can double in 20 minutes.
Remove leftover stuffing from poultry and refrigerate separately.
Use refrigerated leftovers within a few days (see chart at right).
Reheat leftovers thoroughly in a microwave oven or double boiler to retain most of their vitamins, color, texture, and flavor. Wrap large pieces of meat in foil and reheat in the oven at 35O°F (l77°C).
Discard any food that is questionable in smell or appearance. Bacteria can grow readily in meats, poultry, ﬁsh, stuffing, gravy, cream sauce, and cream or custard desserts.
Foods that cause food poisoning often show no signs of spoilage, so don’t rely entirely on taste, smell, or appearance.
The cardinal rule: when in doubt, throw it out.
Exclude air when packing food for the freezer to reduce oxidation and loss of nutrients, ﬂavor, and color. Fill containers of solid food to the top; containers of liquids, to Within half an inch of the top.
When freezing leftovers, seal packages With freezer tape, label contents With a felt pen or Wax pencil, and date them.
Once the food packages are solidly frozen, arrange them Within the freezer to allow for circulation of air.
The smaller the container, the more quickly and more safely food will freeze and thaw.
USING DAILY VALUES
Daily Values were formulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide more nutrition information than the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances provided on labels. The USDA’s applied to vitamins, minerals, and protein. The newer Daily Values also encompass fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, and ﬁber.
Daily Values are based on the number of calories consumed each day. For labeling purposes, 2,000 calories has been set as the reference for calculating percent of Daily Values.
Regardless of calorie level, the numbers listed under “% Daily Values” on labels are based on a nutritionally sound diet containing 60 percent of calories as carbohydrates, 10 percent as protein, 30 percent as fat (including 10 percent saturated fat), and 12.5 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.
Know how much fat you consume daily so that you can guard against heart disease and some types of cancer and control your weight.
For a general idea of your daily limit of fat grams, take your ideal body weight and divide it in half. For example, if you would like to weigh 130 pounds, aim for a limit of 65 grams of dietary fat daily. Consult a dietitian or physician for further guidance.
Read nutrition labels and use a guide listing the dietary fat in common foods.
To make it easier for food shoppers to understand what they are buying, the U.S. government has mandated the use of these labeling terms:
Free or without. An amount that is nutritionally trivial and unlikely to have a physiological consequence.
Low or little. Low enough to allow frequent consumption Without exceeding the Daily Value for the nutrient.
More. It contains at least 10 percent more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient (that is, dietary ﬁber, potassium, protein, or an essential vitamin or mineral) than the reference food that it resembles.
High, rich in, or excellent source. It contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for that nutrient in a serving.
Good source. It contains 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for that nutrient.
Light (or lite). These terms can mean one of two things: First, a nutritionally altered product contains one third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. (If the food derives 50 percent or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of the fat.) Second, “light” can be used for the sodium content of a low- calorie, low-fat food that has been reduced by 50 percent.
Calorie-free. Fewer than 5 calories per serving.
Low calorie. 40 calories or less per serving.
Reduced or fewer calories. At least 25 percent fewer calories per serving than the reference food.
Sugar-free. Less than 0.5 gram per serving.
Reduced sugar. At least 25 percent less sugar per serving than the reference food.
High fiber. 5 grams or more of ﬁber per serving. (Foods making high-fiber claims must meet the definition for low fat, or the level of total fat must appear next to the high-ﬁber claim.)
Good source of fiber. 2.5 grams to 4.9 grams of ﬁber per serving.
More or added fiber. At least 2.5 grams more ﬁber per serving than the reference food.
Fat-free. Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.
Saturated fat-free. Less than 0.5 gram per serving of saturated fat and the level of trans fatty acids does not exceed 1 percent of total fat.
Low fat. Contains 3 grams or less of fat per serving.
Reduced or less fat. At least 25 percent less fat per sewing than the reference food.
Low saturated fat. l gram or less per serving and not more than 15 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids.
Reduced or less saturated fat. At least 25 percent less saturated fat per serving than the reference food.
Cholesterol free. Less than 2 mg of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.
Low in cholesterol. 20 mg or less of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.
Reduced or less cholesterol. At least 25 percent less cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving than the reference food.
Sodium free. Less than 5 mg per serving.
Low sodium. 140 mg or less per serving.
Very low sodium. 35 mg or less per serving.
Reduced or less sodium. At least 25 percent less per serving than the reference food.
Light in sodium. It contains at least 50 percent less sodium than the reference food.
Lean. This term, which can be used to describe the fat content of meat, poultry, seafood, and game meat, means that the food has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100 grams.
Extra-lean. The term can be used to describe meat, poultry, seafood, and game meats that have less than 5 grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per serving and per 100 grams.