Tips on Choosing and Storing Fresh Foods

Fresh foods make healthier meals. The best way to absorb the essential nutrients your body needs is by seeking them out from the fresh food sources that feature them most prominently. Therefore, it is always recommended to buy fresh produce and cook your meals at home as often as possible. Choosing fresh foods and storing them can sometimes be a bit tricky, so here are some tips:

Food Type



Chicken / duck / turkey
  • Look for well-rounded / plump birds, free from blemishes, bruises and broken bones.

  • Fresh poultry should have light and even coloured skin.

  • Clean and cut the poultry for storage.
  • Never keep freshly bought birds at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • For beef, look for lean cut meats that are firm, slightly moist with a fresh red colour.

  • For lamb, choose lean cut meats that are pinkish red and firm with little marbling and little fat.

  • Clean and cut the meat for storage.
  • Don't buy meat if the colour has turned to brown, the meat may have been left at room temperature for too long.

  • Never keep freshly bought meat at room temperature for more than two hours.
Fish/shellfish (seafood)
  • Go for variety when choosing fish / shellfish.

  • Seafood should smell fresh, not fishy or sour.

  • Fish should have clear, slightly bulging eyes, metallic shiny flesh and bright red gills.
  • Shellfish (oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and cockles) should have tightly closed shells or they should close their shells when you tap them.

  • Ideally, shellfish should be cooked immediately after preparation as they spoil easily.
  • Don't buy fish / seafood if the flesh is not firm and does not spring back when pressed.

  • Do not store seafood without cleaning.
  • Choose ripe vegetables that are bright in colours and physically crisp.

  • Go for variety – include dark green leafy vegetables, leguminous (French beans, longs beans, peas), root vegetables (beet roots, carrots) and fruit vegetable (tomato).

  • Buy vegetables that can last 2 to 4 days to ensure freshness and cook leafy vegetables first as they wilt quicker.

  • Refrigerate separately in perforated plastic bags.
  • Never buy vegetables that are − wilted, soft to the touch, dull in colour, and give off unpleasantly smell.

  • Don't keep vegetables together with meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Buy fruits twice a week.

  • Eat fruits that spoil quicker first (banana, papaya, ciku, kiwi,etc) while leaving those that can keep longer (guava, apple, orange, pear etc) for later.

  • Keep fruits that release ethylene gas (pears, mangoes, papayas and bananas) separately from other fruits (apples, watermelon).
  • To avoid damaging the fruits, don't press too hard while choosing.

  • Don't buy fruits with dull colours, damaged or bruised.

  • Don't keep fruits together with meat, poultry and seafood.

When shopping for fresh foods, some other tips to keep in mind include:

  • Go early in the morning, that′s when fresh produce are transported to markets
  • Always purchase fresh meat / poultry / seafood products last, and head home straight if possible to reduce the amount of time these are not refrigerated.
  • Always place seafood, poultry and meat in separate plastic bags to avoid contaminating other foods (groceries, fruits and vegetables).

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