Handy Hints

Cooking tasty, healthy meals for your family doesn't need to cost you lots of time or money. Select a topic below to find out how you could make a change.

Food Safety

Extend the life of food by freezing

To make food last longer, freeze it before its use-by-date, and defrost and use it within 24 hours. Providing eggs are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their 'best before' date. 

Freezing cooked food

Make sure to cool cooked food or leftovers as quickly as possible, and then store them in the freezer. Dividing food into shallow containers will speed up the cooling process.

Freezing Tips

When you reheat food, make sure it's steaming hot all the way through. If the food is just warm, it might not be safe to eat. Never reheat food more than once.

Freezing raw food

It's fine to freeze most raw or cooked foods - just make sure to do it before the 'use by' date. Also, don't forget to follow any freezing or defrosting instructions on the label.

Keeping your kitchen clean

Before you start preparing food‚ it's important to make sure your worktops, kitchen utensils and chopping boards are clean. If they've been touched by raw meat, poultry or eggs, you'll need to wash them thoroughly to keep your family safe from illness.

Hand washing

Hands can easily spread bacteria around the kitchen and onto food. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before starting to prepare food. Especially if you've been touching raw meat or chicken, going to the toilet, touching the bin, or touching pets.

Defrosting raw meat or fish

If you're defrosting raw meat or fish, keep them in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge to make sure they don't touch or drip onto other foods.

Why shouldn't you wash raw meat before cooking it

If you wash raw meat, chicken or fish, you run the risk of splashing bacteria onto worktops and utensils. Washing doesn't get rid of harmful bacteria - the only way to do this is by cooking the food thoroughly. 

Defrosting frozen food with a microwave

You can use a microwave to defrost frozen food, but if you do, make sure you cook it straight away.

What you should know about use-by-dates

You will see use-by-dates on food that goes off quickly.  Make sure you store this food appropriately, and eat, cook or freeze it by the use-by-date shown on the label. Even if food looks and smells fine, using it after this date could put you and your family's health at risk. 

Stick to the use by date

Use-by-dates refer to safety. Food can be eaten up to the end of this date, but not after, even if it looks and smells fine. Always follow the storage instructions on the packet.

How to stop bacteria from spreading

Here are some things you can do to stop bacteria spreading. Avoid using the same knife to prepare ready-to-eat-foods and raw meat or fish. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat or fish. Always store raw meat or fish on the bottom shelf to ensure they don't drip on other foods.

Safe eating for under 2s

Children under 2 years should be gradually introduced to food, so make sure you don't overwhelm them too early!

How to store raw food safely

It's important to keep raw meat and fish away from ready-to-eat food, such as salad, fruit and bread. These types of food won't be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that's got onto the food won't be killed.

Storing tinned food: can I leave a tin can open?

Never store food in an opened tin can. The tin from the can makes the contents taste bad and may make you ill. Instead, empty the food into a bowl or other container, cover, and put it in the fridge.

Defrosting frozen food

Defrost frozen food in the fridge so it doesn't get too warm. Cook it within one or two days as it will go off in the same way fresh food does!

Safe eating for 2-5s

As they grow older, children aged between 2 and 5 should be given more variation in their diet.

Best before isn't the same as use by date

Best before 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.