Whether you’re working from home or just trying to save a bit of extra money, eating in is a great way to become a better cook while protecting your wallet. But for those used to ready-made lunches and takeaway dinners, it can be a bit overwhelming finding out all the dos and don’ts in the kitchen. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to learn! That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of food safety tips that every home cook should know…
1. Practice Hand Hygiene
If you didn’t wash your hands pre-COVID, we’re sure you’ve started now! Washing hands properly is the easiest way to make your home more hygienic. Everyone knows to sing Happy Birthday while scrubbing well with soap and water. But hand hygiene goes beyond just washing well with soap. You should also make sure any small cuts or wounds are covered securely with bandaids. Here’s a restaurant tip: Buy your bandaids in bright colours, so you’ll spot them straight away if they fall off while cooking. Finally, keep your nails clean and short to make sure your food doesn’t come in contact with harmful bacteria.
2. Make Sure Your Knives Are Sharp
Sharp knives might seem more dangerous, but it’s blunt knives that home cooks should be wary of. While a sharp knife cuts cleanly and securely through your ingredients, blunt knives can easily slip and knick fingers (or worse). Make sure to test your knives regularly, and sharpen at home with a knife sharpener. Once your knives are sharpened, store them securely out of reach of children and animals.
3. Wash Your Produce
This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many beginner cooks use their produce straight from the fridge. Fruit and vegetables can be sprayed with harmful pesticides, dirt, and may even have tiny bugs hiding in leaves. Even peeled vegetables should be washed, as some bacteria can penetrate the surface of the skin. A good scrub underwater is usually enough to make your produce ready to eat! Just make sure to dry veggies after washing, so it’s easy to cut safely.
4. Watch Out For Slippery Cutting Boards
Speaking of cutting safely, beware of slippery cutting boards. Smooth kitchen surfaces and plastic boards often equal slipping and sliding, when what you want is a secure surface for your knife. Make sure to ensure your chopping board is secured before you start cutting food. If you’re stuck with a slippery board, you can hold it in place easily by placing a folded kitchen towel between your board and surface. Once your chopping board is securely in place you can begin cutting food confidently.
5. Check Your Fridge
If you’ve had your kitchen appliances for years, it’s good to make sure everything is still operating safely. Broken fridges can make your groceries (especially meat and dairy products) turn bad fast, so ensuring it’s cold enough is food safety 101. Similarly, malfunctioning freezers can cause food to defrost and expire before you’ve had a chance to use it. If you’re unsure how to check your fridge, call your manufacturers’ customer service hotline for tips.
6. Be Mindful of Expiration Dates
Not all foods expire at the same time! Some cooked foods, like rice, should only be thrown out after a few days in the fridge. Others can keep for weeks if stored appropriately. Getting familiar with ingredients can help you spot the signs that something is turning before it goes off, and ensures that you never have to learn food is spoiled the hard way. Some fruits and vegetables can be salvaged with some water and attention, while proteins such as meat and tofu can’t be saved once they’ve started to go bad. Learning the difference can save time, money, and your stomach.
7. Take a Food Safety Course
Last but not least, taking a food safety course helps avoid any safety blind spots in your kitchen. Even if you never plan on working in hospitality, learning proper food safety ensures that you and your family stay happy and healthy. A food safety course can teach you how to avoid food poisoning, how to handle food safely, and even how to avoid kitchen pests! Food safety courses take the guesswork out of kitchen safety, so all you have to worry about is making delicious food. Click on our Food Safety Course tab to learn more. Now get cooking!