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Optimum stock-keeping depends on many factors, most of which you probably won’t even be aware of, but which on closer inspection make a great deal of sense. The following factors are crucial in terms of keeping your own store of food:

 

Food to be stored: Different foods can be stored in different ways. The specifics will depend on the particular characteristics of the types of food in question, be they vegetables, fruit, cereals and cereal products, potatoes, milk and dairy products, meat and meat products, fish and fish products, eggs, dried products such as pasta, baking ingredients or drinks. See our food glossary for more information on optimum food storage.

Period of time: The length of time for which you wish to store your food will often determine the preservation method, depending on the food in question. Put simply: would I be better off buying UHT or fresh milk? The storage duration also has a bearing on the size of the storage containers and spaces to be used. The required storage quantity depends on the availability of the food too, i.e. does it have to be bought in a shop or can it be harvested from your own garden?

Space:
The better the space available for stock-keeping, the more cost-effective and efficient the process will be. It makes more sense to have a single large pantry unit, such as a pull-out larder, than to store food in different spots around the kitchen or even in various rooms. By designing and adapting the space or pantry to the storage requirements of the food to be stored you will end up throwing away less food as a result of decay, drying out, pests, etc. The available space or cupboards determine the quantity of goods which can be stored as well as the storage period.

 

 

Cost-effectiveness: When storing your own food, you must weigh the time spent on preserving goods, the cost of equipment and energy, the space required and the standard of quality achieved against the benefits of bought products. Every household must make its own individual decision in this regard. Only those foods that will be consumed in the foreseeable future should be kept in stock. The amount of food thrown away should be kept to an absolute minimum. A well organised form of stock-keeping enables you to achieve these goals.

Quantity:
The quantity of food to be stored affects the way in which it is kept. For example, a reasonable amount of cheap raspberries can easily be frozen. But if larger quantities are involved, the freezer will consume an excessive amount of energy. In this case, you would be better off making the raspberries into marmalade or juice. The quantity of food you will need to store in the future must be taken into account when planning your storage spaces and pantry.

Type of stock-keeping:
The different types of stock-keeping are dry storage, chilling and freezing. The methods will be used to a greater or lesser extent in each household, depending on the available space. Preservation methods go hand in hand with the different types of stock-keeping.


Packaging:
The packaging in which food is stored has a significant impact on its ability to maintain its quality. Therefore, storage containers should be selected in such a way that good order and optimum use of storage space can be achieved. Neglecting to package food, or using inappropriate packaging, can have an adverse effect on the food’s quality, leading to freezer burn or pest infestation, for example. Food containers must always meet the following requirements: they must be food safe, tasteless, tear-proof, shatter-proof and stackable (in the interests of optimum use of space). It must also be possible to see the contents through the side - possible if the container is transparent, for example - so that you can always see at a glance how full the container is. The packaging of frozen products in particular, but also that used for storing dry goods, must be impervious to water vapour and must close tightly.

Retention of nutrients: One of the main aims of stock-keeping is to retain the nutrients in food. This is why frozen products are very popular, because in some cases they can prove to be more nutritionally balanced than "fresh" food, which is actually already several days old when it reaches the supermarket (taking the time spent on harvesting and transport into account), where it then sits on display until it is bought. If food is frozen properly, it loses fewer nutrients than if it is dried, for example. However, you should also take the impact on the environment of increased energy consumption (in the form of the power used by the freezer) into account.

If you keep these factors in mind, there is no reason why you cannot come up with a system of stock-keeping that is perfect for you.