There is an abundance of simple storage tricks that keep our food fresh for a longer time. They also help us create less waste and save us money at the same time. These inexpensive to adopt methods can save you from shedding a tear because of an over-ripened avocado and make healthy meal prep even easier. And, they support your efforts to send less waste to landfills, reducing your individual carbon footprint.
Make sure to read (or at least skim) to the end. You might be surprised to find out where products really should be stored. First, we’re going to cover general tips, followed by where to store what in your kitchen. Then, there are recommendations for repacking and storing certain foods in water to help prolong the life of your groceries.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions to add to our list in the comments below! We’d love to share them with the rest of our community.
- Upcycle jars and paper bags into storage containers. You’ll save money on Tupperware and reduce the amount of glass you send to the landfill.
- Label containers with two dates: the day you stored it and when to toss.
- Don’t wash produce until you’re about to eat it. Excess water can promote the acceleration of decay. (*During COVID-19, make sure to sanitize and wash your produce before storing it in the refrigerator to remove any contaminants. Towel them off prior to storing. Then put a clean, dry towel in the crisper drawer.)
- Learn which foods emit ethylene and which ones don’t. This will help you separate the right varieties, so they don’t ripen and spoil as quickly.
- Store nut butters and dairy products upside down to prevent separation. The oils that would have accumulated on top can go through the nut butter, so you don’t have to remix the jar every time. And you’ll keep bacteria from growing in any sour cream, yogurt, and cottage cheese. When it’s upside down, a vacuum is created in the container that keeps mold from growing as quickly.
- Canning, pickling, and drying can be excellent methods for extending the life of foods well beyond their expiration date. It is important to note, however, there is significant nutritional value loss when these methods are used.
Freeze These for Later
- Learn how to freeze 16 different fruits and vegetables for meal prep, or if you find yourself with leftovers, using this guide from EatingWell.
- Store extra meat in a Stasher bag after portioning out what you think you’ll eat in the next few days.
- Use BPA-free ice cube trays to freeze:
- Herbs in olive oil, then use them as ready-made starters.
- Stock and broth instead of throwing away any leftovers. They’re great if you need to add a small amount of liquid at the end of a savory recipe.
- Blended wilted greens for smoothies, stir-fry recipes, and more.
- Scoops of leftover tomato paste.
- Juice from leftover lemon or lime. You’ll thank yourself the next time you want a refreshing beverage.
- Freeze sauces, soups, and other crockpot recipes in jars for quick meal prep. If you’re whipping up a batch of your favorite salsa, double it and throw what’s left in your upcycled jar.
Into the Fridge
- These are your fridge “zones”:
- Top shelf: Leftovers, prepared food, and perishable items you don’t want to forget about, like yogurt, dips, and beverages.
- Lower shelves: Eggs and dairy (not in the fridge door), and raw meat in a spot where it will not drip and contaminate other items. This is generally the coldest spot in the fridge.
- Meat drawer: Deli meat and cheese. The colder temperature will make these goods last longer.
- Crisper drawer #1 (set one to low humidity): Produce with a skin, such as apples, pears, and berries.
- Crisper drawer #2 (set the other to high humidity): Leafy, green produce like fresh herbs, spinach, and broccoli. Store greens with a towel to absorb excess moisture. It’ll help keep the greens from getting soggy over time, extending their shelf life.
- Fridge door: Condiments, salad dressing, and other items that don’t perish quickly. Items on the door experience the most extreme temperature swings since it gets exposed to the indoor air frequently when you’re opening and shutting it.
- Keep your avocados from ripening before you’re ready to eat them by storing them in the fridge. Once you’re ready, put them into a paper bag to let them finish ripening. Want them to ripen quickly? Store avocados in a paper bag with an apple overnight.
Room Temp-Friendly Foods
- Store potatoes in a cool, dry place. They can also be put in a paper bag in the cupboard. Learn more about how to store potatoes, onions, and garlic on Farmers’ Almanac. You can also store apples with potatoes to prevent them from spoiling as fast.
- Find a warm, dry spot to dry herbs for later use.
- Stone fruits such as peaches and plums should be stored at room temperature with the stem end facing downward. Tomatoes should also be stored stem down, whether stored on the counter or in a paper bag. If any come in plastic, make sure to remove them so the molding process doesn’t accelerate.
- Cucumbers should be stored on the counter so they don’t decay as quickly.
Repack These Foods
- Store any dry foods such as nuts, flours, and pasta in airtight containers.
- Remove cheese from the plastic wrap it comes in and store it in reusable beeswax wraps. This will allow it to breathe and last longer. Without airflow, bacteria can breed. You could also re-wrap it in single-use parchment paper or cheese paper.
- Transfer canned food leftovers to a reusable container instead of leaving it in the can in the fridge, so it doesn’t lose flavor or go bad.
- Give your berries a vinegar bath to help them last up to two weeks.
- Keep mushrooms in a brown paper bag on a shelf in your refrigerator.
- Wash and chop up lettuce before storing it in a mason jar in the fridge. It will stay fresh for weeks and you’ll be one step ahead on your salad.
- Follow the old farmers’ trick and store root vegetables in natural sand or sawdust. Follow this guide from Gardenista to learn how.
Store these in Water
- Store all fresh herbs upright in purified water in the refrigerator, except for basil. It prefers a moderate room temperature.
- Trim asparagus, kale, and celery before storing in a container with a couple of inches of filtered water. This way, they’ll stay crisp.
- Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and parsnips keep pushing energy into their leaves after they’re harvested. Chop off the tops before submerging them in water to keep the nutrients in the root. You could also chop up carrots and celery, then put them in a jar of water for a ready-made snack.
- Store whole green onions in a cup with about an inch of water covering the roots. If you only use the green part, you can watch it grow back.
- Cover leftover guacamole with a layer of purified water before refrigerating. The water creates a barrier against oxygen, preventing it from browning.