Non-destructive monitoring of food internal attributes by near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is typically performed by the continuous wave (CW) technique, where steady state light sources (e.g. lamp or LED with constant intensity in time) and photodetectors (e.g. photodiode or charge coupled device camera) are used to measure light attenuation. Indeed light scattering can largely affect light attenuation resulting in the need of calibration for each new batch of samples. To tackle this effect time-resolved NIRS (TRS) has been proposed to improve the classical CW approach to NIRS. The main feature of TRS is its ability to retrieve information on photon path-length in a diffusive medium (generally much larger than the geometrical distance between source and detector). The use of TRS in combination with proper physical models for photon migration allows for the complete optical characterisation with the simultaneous non-destructive measurement of the optical properties (absorption and scattering) of a diffusive medium. This can be of special interest for most fruits and vegetables as well as for other foods (e.g. meat, fish, and cheese), because information derived by TRS refers to the internal properties of the medium, and is not so much affected by surface features as is the case for CW spectroscopy. In the past TRS measurements were possible only with complex laboratory instrumentation consisting of picosecond pulsed lasers, water cooled photomultiplier tubes, and electronic chain for time- correlated single photon counting. In this work we present the recent advances in TRS technology (laser, detectors and acquisition electronics) that allow the design of portable instrumentation for use in the pre- harvest (i.e. in the field) and post-harvest.