Best way to increase shelf life of certain things
I'm looking for techniques (beyond simple refridgeration) to increase the life of certain things:
Two things I am concerned with..
Cheese (bought a large blk of cheddar at costco)
sliced deli meats (we seem to through out a lot of it, especially turkey).
I have a Food Saver - I'm on my 2nd one now - and LOVE it. I buy in bulk at Costco and break things down to 2-person servings. Love using it for meats, summer veggies, etc. We do up HUGE batches of homemade spaghetti sauce and seal it in packages and even give it for Christmas gifts - My DH makes it in my huge old pressure cooker canner and has everything but the kitchen sink in it. I have even sealed my daughter's wedding dress (That was 14 years ago and it is still sealed and white)!
Without a vacuum sealer you can extend the life of your cheese by cutting it into maybe 3 pieces. Wrap 2 really tightly. Keep one to eat from. Less opening, airing, touching will gve it a longer shelf life.
I've always read that cheese should be wrapped in parchment rather than plastic but I found it dried out that way, and both ebsorbed and contributed refrigerator odors. However, wrapping it in parchment or even a paper towel, and then putting it in a zippered plastic bag, seems to keep it from both drying out and turning moldy quickly. Don't freeze hard cheeses - they will be crumbly (okay for mac&cheese, gratins, though). Vacuum-sealing deli cold cuts will help a little but you still need to use them pretty fast, or freeze, which adversely affects texture.
Won't help you much with cheese or meats, but to extend the shelf life of fresh tomatoes, store them (out of the refrigerator!) stem side down. I recently read about this, and it works! Amazing. I buy tomatoes with some of the vine still attached, and they last weeks longer stems down.
You can increase the shelf life of cheeses, cold cuts and other meats by limiting the contact of your bare hands to the foods during the handling process of making snacks or sandwiches. In simple terms, the mere contact of you skin to the food accelerates the (bacteria) growth process. This is what was explained in a food safety and handling class food service employees were required to take for anyone working in Bergen County, New Jersey.
As for soup, you can extend the shelf life by bringing the soup to a boil for a few minutes after a few days, which will allow you to gain an extra 2-3 days longer period.
If you do not have plastic gloves, you can stick you hand in a plastic bag from a previous vegetable or bread purchase from your market.