Have you ever thought about how much food waste occurs in your house? According to Money, the average household tosses out about 20% of the food they buy. For the typical family, that adds up to over $1,500 worth of food per year!
I’m guessing you could think of about one hundred different things you could do with that kind of money. Maybe you’d like to pay off some debt, catch up on bills, splurge on a new outfit… or really anything other than throw it away!
But the good news is that we can reduce a lot of our food waste just by learning a few simple food storage tips! Because when your food is stored properly, you have more time to get around to eating it before it goes bad.
To help us all improve when it comes to food waste, I’ll be sharing 36 quick food storage tips in today’s post! This list features tips for fruits and veggies, meat and eggs, pantry staples, and dairy products, so no matter what you’re storing, you’ll find tips to help you do it here.
But before we dig into the more specific stuff, let’s get started with a few general tips for ensuring food freshness! :-)
36 Food Storage Tips That Will Keep Your Food Fresh
▶︎ General Tips
1. Check Your Fridge Temperature
Check the temperature inside of your fridge, which should be somewhere between 38-40°F. This is cold enough to keep your food as fresh as possible without freezing it. Eliminate the guesswork with a fridge thermometer, which you can buy for just a few dollars online.
2. Check Dates At The Store
Make sure to check the expiration date on foods while you’re shopping at the store. There’s nothing wrong with buying foods that are a day or two away from their expiration date, but you should only do it if you can make a solid plan to eat it ASAP.
3. Plan Around Your Fridge
One strategy that can help you cut down on waste is planning a few meals around what’s in your fridge and how long you expect it 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!
4. Grow Your Own
If you have the space for a garden (or even just a few pots), try growing your own food! Home-grown tomatoes, squash, and herbs are packed with flavor, and can be picked and eaten the very same day. You never have to wonder how long your food was in transit or how long ago it was picked when you grow it yourself.
5. Buy From Local Farms
If you’re not much of a gardener, the next best option 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!
6. Prep Your Food
#6 – Clean and prep fresh food shortly after you get home according to how you plan to use it. If you do the prep work beforehand, you’ll be more likely to actually use it the way you planned to before it goes bad!
▶︎ Tips For Fruits & Vegetables
7. Moisture Control
Line the bottom of the produce drawers in your fridge with paper towels. The paper towels will help absorb excess moisture and keep many foods fresh so they don’t rot prematurely.
You can help keep mushrooms from getting slimy by wrapping them in paper towels before refrigerating.
If you notice your tomatoes are starting to get a bit wrinkly, they’re probably on their last legs. Buy yourself an extra week or so by roasting your tomatoes in slices or chunks. Place the roasted tomatoes 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, and 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.
13. Crunchy Veggies
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 store them in your pantry. They can stay good for months this way!
Store apples separately from other foods. Apples give off ethylene gas that can cause other foods to decay more quickly than they would otherwise. (But on the other hand, this effect can come in handy in cases when you want to quickly ripen bananas for banana bread!)
16. Green Onions
You can triple the lifespan of green onions by storing them in a jar of water on your counter top. 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.
Avoid separating bananas before you plan to eat them. They stay fresh longer when kept in a bunch! Store bananas at room temperature until ripe. If they’ve over-ripened, stick them in the freezer to use in a future batch of banana bread.
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 want to eat it right away, stick it in the fridge to prevent it from ripening further.
21. Freeze Fresh Herbs
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 Meat, Fish, & Eggs
22. Fresh Fish
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.
24. Meat & Poultry
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. To freeze smoked meats like bacon, ham, etc., wrap them in a vinegar-dampened cloth, then cover in wax paper and freeze.
▶︎ Tips For Bread & 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.
26. Coffee Beans
Buy whole bean coffee and grind 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 that period, you can freeze the rest to keep it fresh!)
27. Dry Ingredients
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 make it go stale faster because it’s such a moist environment. For best results, keep bread out on your countertop in a tightly sealed bag or container.
29. Shelf-Stable Foods
Store your dry foods in airtight containers, rather than the packaging they came in! This will help keep pasta, cereal, pretzels, and other foods fresh 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, put a pinch of dry rice into the shaker too. The rice will absorb excess moisture and keep the salt from sticking together.
31. Brown Sugar
Store brown sugar in your freezer to keep it from hardening. For brown sugar that has already gone rock-solid, toss a piece of bread or a marshmallow into the container to soften it up.
Honey won’t ever really spoil, so there’s no need to toss it out when you see crystals or cloudiness. Just microwave it on medium power in 30 second increments until it clears up and thins out.
▶︎ Tips For Dairy & Cheese
Before storing cheese in your fridge, wrap it tightly in wax paper to allow airflow while sealing out moisture. After cutting cheese, you can rub butter on the cut part to help keep it fresh. To freeze shredded cheese for later use, simply shred it, toss with cornstarch, and store in a freezer bag.
Keep milk in the main part of your fridge rather than in the door. The shelves in the door are typically warmer than the rest of the fridge, and your milk will stay fresh longer if you keep it nice and cold!
35. Cottage Cheese & Sour Cream
To keep cottage cheese or sour cream fresh, store it upside-down in your fridge! Inverting creates a vacuum inside the container that will help reduce the chance of mold or bacteria growing on the surface.
To keep butter fresh in the fridge, keep it in its original package. To freeze it for later use, seal it up in a freezer bag and store for up to 6 months.
With the help of these tips, you’ll be reducing your household’s food waste in no time (and keeping more money in your pocket while you’re at it!)
What’s your best tip for keeping food fresh?