In these unusual times, when every dollar and grocery trip counts for double, limiting waste and making your produce last longer is more meaningful than ever. Here are 12 hacks to help you do just that:
If your refrigerator isn’t in great shape, the food you put in it won’t be either. For example, did you know every little spill and crumb in your fridge contains bacteria that can make your food spoil faster? That’s why reorganizing and disinfecting your fridge at least once a month is necessary to keep your food tasting great and lasting longer. Here are a few more essential fridge tips:
- The right temperature is everything. It’s arguably the single most important factor to how effectively your fridge stores food. The FDA suggests keeping refrigerators at 40°F or below, and freezers at 0°F or below.
- Do not overcrowd your fridge. Stuffing your fridge to the brim creates warm spots and inconsistent temperatures throughout, which can substantially reduce your food’s shelf life.
- If your crisper drawer has a temp setting, set it to low. Your veggies will stay firmer and tastier longer.
No one likes mushy berries or soggy greens, so it’s time to stop washing your produce too early. Adding moisture to fruits and veggies accelerates decay, trimming several days off their longevity. Instead, wait to wash your produce until right before you plan to eat it. You’ll be surprised how big a difference it makes.
Storing eggs and dairy in the fridge door—it’s a big no-no. Every time the fridge is opened, the temperature in the front section of the appliance rises, putting vulnerable food items at risk. Want your yogurt, creamer, and protein-packed eggs to stay delicious longer? Store them on the bottom shelf near the back, where the temps stay consistently cold.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you want your gourmet and sandwich cheeses to remain flavorful, you gotta’ stop putting them in airtight containers. Skip the sealed ziplock bags and Tupperware, and tightly wrap cheeses in a porous paper like wax, parchment, or—you guessed it—cheese paper. As with the rest of your dairy, place it on the bottom shelf of the main fridge compartment.
To combat the stink factor, make sure not to store strongly aromatic ones like blue cheese right next to other sensitive foods, as they’ll both absorb one another’s smells and flavors.
Several fruits, but especially apples, bananas, and avocados, emit large amounts of ethylene gas, which can prematurely ripen other fruits and vegetables nearby. In fact, nearly all produce emits some sort of gas as it ages, gases which are normally damaging to dissimilar items stored in close proximity.
As a rule, try to store fruits and veggies separately. Berries, kale, and bell peppers emit very little gas, so feel free to store them however you like.
I know, I know—above we told you to avoid getting produce wet until you’re ready to eat it. But there’s an exception: leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, and kale actually do better after a quick rinse.
Start by washing your greens and then loosely wrapping them in paper towels. Finally, place these bundles inside unsealed plastic bags or containers. This should keep them tasty for over 10 days.
In some cases it can help extend the life of your bread, but usually refrigeration just makes it stale faster. Instead, keep your loaves, bagels, and naan on the counter, in a bread box, or in your pantry, tightly sealed. If you can’t finish your bread in time, toss it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To maintain its yummy texture, slice it up before freezing.
Whether they’re for baking or healthy snacking, nuts last far longer stored in the fridge over the pantry. Basically, it’s the oil in nuts that causes them to go bad faster, and the fridge helps slow the oil’s decay.
For crunchier, better-tasting celery and broccoli, reach for tin foil. It’s super simple: tightly wrap bunches of celery or broccoli in a sheet or 2 of foil. This should up their shelf life to about 4 weeks. Voila!
You read that right—just like a bouquet of flowers. Grab a mason jar, fill it with an inch or so of water, and stand your bundles of asparagus, cilantro, and parsley upright in the glass. To keep them extra fresh, cut the tips off the bottoms first and cover the top with plastic wrap.
Eating half an avocado usually means eating one half now and throwing the other half away after you thought it’d keep overnight in the fridge, but it didn’t. Here’s a trick to always save that second half for later without it turning brown and weird tasting: brush it.
Using either lemon juice or olive oil, thoroughly brush leftover avocado halves, covering the entire exposed surface. This will prevent oxygen from ruining the fruit, keeping your avocado delicious and beautiful for the following day.
Plain old paper bags are miracle workers when it comes to preserving mushrooms. As mushrooms age, they begin to expel moisture, which can result in mushy, often moldy mushrooms if they’re stored incorrectly. Paper bags absorb this moisture while simultaneously keeping your mushrooms firm and fresh.
Just throw them unwashed straight into a paper bag. Fold over the top, place the bag in the main part of your fridge, and expect them to last up to a week. Avoid the crisper drawer, it’s way too humid in there.