Have you ever thought about how much food waste occurs in your house? According to Money magazine, the average household tosses out about 14% of the food they buy. For the typical family, that adds up to over $1,300 worth of food per year!
We can probably all think of about a hundred different things we could do with that kind of money. We’d put it towards a family vacation, catch up on bills, get a new outfit anything other than throwing it away!
Fortunately, a lot of food waste can be avoided by learning a few simple food storage tips. When foods are stored properly, they’ll stay fresher for a longer period of time. Making a few simple changes to the way you store your food can help you avoid waste, shop less, and save money on your grocery bill! So today I’m sharing quick tips for storing food that will help keep it fresh. I’ve broken the list into categories, including fruits and veggies, meat and eggs, pantry staples, and dairy products. But before we get to the more specific stuff, let’s get started with a few general tips for ensuring food freshness. 🙂
General Tips For Keeping Your Food Fresh
- Make sure the inside of your fridge is the right temperature! Ideally, your fridge should run right around 38-40°F. This will keep your food as fresh as possible, without making your food so cold that it freezes. Use a fridge thermometer to verify the temperature of your fridge!
- Make sure to check on the expiration date on foods while you’re shopping. It’s fine to buy foods that are a day or two away from their expiration date, but only do it if you can make a solid plan to eat that food in the next day or two.
- Try to plan a few meals that center around what’s in your fridge, and how long it is expected to last. For instance, if you have a bag of spinach in your fridge that is on its last legs, you could plan to use it in omelets the next day!
- Grow your own food! Home-grown tomatoes, squash, and herbs are packed with flavor and can be harvested and eaten the very same day. You don’t have to worry about how long your food has traveled or how long ago it was picked when you grow it yourself.
- Buy local! If you’re not much of a gardener, the next best option for fresh produce is to buy it from a local farmer. Local produce is sure to last you at least a few days longer than their supermarket equivalents, which has already traveled long distances before it arrives at the store. And it’s always good to support local businesses!
- Clean and prep fresh food shortly after you get home, according to how you like to eat or use it. If it’s all prepped and ready to go for cooking or snacking, you’ll be much more likely to actually use it before it goes bad!
Tips For Storing Fruits & Vegetables
- Line the bottom of the crisper drawers in your fridge with paper towels. The paper towels will absorb excess moisture and help keep many foods fresh, rather than rotting prematurely.
- You can help keep mushrooms from getting slimy by wrapping them in paper towels before refrigerating.
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- If you notice your tomatoes are about to go bad, roast them in slices or chunks. Place the roasted pieces in a container with olive oil, and they’ll stay good in the fridge for about a week.
- Wash berries in water and a small splash of vinegar before refrigerating them to help keep them fresh. Store them in the plastic container they came in, or a ziplock bag. Place them in the back of the fridge where it stays coldest.
- Wrap lettuce in a damp paper towel before storing to help keep it fresh. If your lettuce has started wilting, you can usually revive it by soaking it in ice water for several minutes.
- Store kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and other hardy greens with their stems in a glass of water. Cover the greens loosely in a plastic bag, and they’ll stay nice and crisp longer.
- To keep celery, carrots, and radishes fresh, chop them and store them in the fridge in a container of water. They’ll stay fresh for a surprisingly long time this way!
- Coat whole squashes in a thin layer of vegetable oil and stores them in your pantry. They can stay good for months this way!
- Keep apples separate from your other food. Apples give off ethylene gas, which causes other foods to decay more quickly. And if your apples start getting soft, you can always cook them rather than eating them raw!
- You can triple the lifespan of green onions by storing them in a jar of water on your countertop. The tops will keep growing and you can snip them off as needed!
- Asparagus will last longer in the fridge if stored with its ends in water. Just stand the bunch up with the larger ends at the bottom, and stick it in a shallow glass of water.
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- Avoid separating bananas before you plan to eat them. They stay fresher, longer when kept in a bunch! Store bananas at room temperature until ripe. If they’ve over-ripened, stick them in the freezer and use them to make banana bread later on.
- Don’t store bulbs of garlic in a closed container. It will last much longer if stored in an open basket or a paper bag.
- When buying avocados that need to ripen, store them at room temperature. If an avocado is ripe but you don’t plan on using it for a few days, stick it in the fridge to stop it from going bad.
- Keep herbs fresh by storing them in whole bunches. Just rinse the bunch, put it in a ziplock freezer bag, and toss it in your freezer. It should stay fresh for up to a month this way! When you’re ready to use them, just chop them up and toss them in whatever you’re cooking.
Tips For Storing Meat, Fish, And Eggs
- Fish should be kept in a bag on top of a bowl of ice inside your fridge. Eat it as soon as possible! You can also freeze fish to keep it fresh for longer.
- Store eggs in their original carton. If you can’t decide if your eggs are still fresh, place one in a cup of water. Fresh eggs should sink, while old eggs usually float.
- Meat and poultry should be kept in its original packaging if you’ll eat it in the next day or two. If not, wrap it in tin foil or stick it in a ziplock bag, then store it in your freezer. Smoked meats like bacon, ham, etc. can be wrapped in a vinegar-dampened cloth, then wrap the whole thing in wax paper and freeze.
Tips For Storing Bread And Pantry Staples
- Freezing flour for 48 hours is sure to kill any insects that may be present. After that, transfer it to a tightly sealed container. Store the container in a cool, dark location.
- Buy whole bean coffee, and grind it as needed to get the best flavor. Store your coffee beans in an airtight and opaque container to keep it fresh, and use within 3-4 days. (If you bought more than you can use in a few days, freeze the rest to keep it fresh.)
- To help keep weevils at “bay,” store your flour, rice, or cornmeal with a bay leaf in the container. The scent of the bay leaf should deter weevils from moving in.
- Storing bread in the fridge can actually cause it to store more quickly due to the moist environment. Bread is best kept on your countertop in a tightly sealed bag or container.
- Store your dry foods in airtight containers, rather than the packaging they came in! This will help keep pasta, cereal, pretzels, and other foods fresher for longer. I like to use mason jars, but any airtight container will do!
- If you live in a humid area, you’ve likely experienced salt clumping up in your salt shaker. To prevent this from happening, put a pinch of dry rice into the shaker too. The rice will absorb excess moisture and keep the salt from sticking together.
- Storing brown sugar in your freezer will keep it from hardening. For brown sugar that has already gone rock-solid, toss a piece of bread or a marshmallow in with it to soften it up.
- Honey won’t ever spoil, so don’t toss it out when you see crystals or cloudiness. Just microwave it on medium heat in 30-second increments until it clears up and thins back out.
Tips For Storing Dairy Products
- Before storing cheese in your fridge, wrap it securely in wax paper. Wax paper allows the cheese to breathe while keeping it dry. After cutting cheese, you can rub butter on the cut part to help keep it fresh. Cheese keeps pretty well in the freezer too! To store shredded cheese in the freezer, simply shred, toss with cornstarch, and place in an airtight baggie.
- Keep milk in the main part of your fridge rather than the door. Items stored in the door of your fridge are subjected to temperature fluctuations every time the fridge door is opened. Milk will stay fresh for longer if kept nice and cold!
- To keep cottage cheese or sour cream fresh here’s an easy tip. Store it upside-down in your fridge! Inverting the container creates a vacuum which will help reduce the chance of mold or bacteria growing on the surface.
- Store butter in its the original package. Stock up when it’s on sale and freeze it to keep it fresh. Seal it up in a freezer bag, and it will stay good for up to 6 months in there!
Using these simple tips, you can cut back on food waste and save yourself some money while you’re at it! Do you have any tips for keeping food fresh? Share them in a comment below, and we can continue the conversation!