Whether we have plenty of groceries or struggle to fill our fridge, none of us like seeing food go to waste. Thinking about what we could have done with that meal or ingredient if it hadn’t spoiled is maddening. We lose or waste roughly 1.3 billion tons of food annually around the globe, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. So with that in mind, here are some tricks to reduce those figures and keep your stores full for longer.
20. Differentiate between use-by and best-before dates
When you purchase food, you’ll often see a best-before and a use-by date. The former number is a guideline for how long the manufacturer predicts that the food will be at its best. As a result, there’s likely some leeway with a best-before date.
The use-by date, on the other hand, is arguably more important to consumers. It’s put in place as a warning that the food might not be safe to eat, so you need to be more careful. And this is especially true with things like meat and dairy products.
19. Store spring onions in bottles
Spring onions make a nice addition to any salad, but they have a limited shelf life. And if you’ve ever had them lying around for too long, you won’t need reminding of the smell. Indeed, this is as much an incentive as any to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
The good news is that there’s a way to preserve spring onions for months at a time, according to the website Save the Student. It suggests chopping the vegetables into pieces, leaving them to dry in an empty water bottle and then freezing them. Following that, you just have to take out what you need without the risk of the spring onions going smelly.
18. Refresh avocado with lemon juice
Avocados are great for you, but catching them when they’re ripe is tricky. Often, they’re either rock-hard or too mushy. There is a knack to this, though; you have to leave them out of the fridge until they’re firm, the aforementioned website says. After that, stick the fruit in the fridge to preserve its ripeness.
And there’s a crafty hack if you’ve still got some leftover avocado. Apparently, rubbing the exposed flesh of the fruit with a piece of lemon will keep it fresher for longer. Then, you can finish it off at your leisure.
17. Soak berries in vinegar
Berries can go bad fast, and as a result can be wasted quite frequently. Considering the benefits your body gets from them, though, you should eat berries when you can. And there is a way to make your punnet maintain freshness for longer periods.
According to Save the Student, washing the berries with vinegar and water will kill off any harmful bacteria. To make the solution, you simply mix three parts of water to one-part vinegar. Afterwards, clean your berries with the liquid and then store them in the fridge to deter mould for longer.
16. Freeze herbs in ice cubes
Many of us love a herb bouquet to store in the kitchen when we might want to spice up our dishes. But they can die out before you get the chance to use them up in food. Luckily, it turns out that if you have an ice cube tray handy, you could save yourself a lot of waste.
Instagram user eathappyfeelgood suggests chopping your herbs up and popping them in an ice cube tray. After adding some water, put them in the freezer and the resulting ice will seal your herbs in. Then simply take a frozen cube out, let it defrost, and get seasoning.
15. Store banana bunches on their own
Anyone who has bought bananas will know how quickly they go from their vibrant yellow color to a muddy brown. But don’t let that put you off these potassium powerhouses, because there’s a workaround to their rapid decay.
Bananas exude ethylene – which ripens other fruit around it quickly. So to begin with, separate the products from other fruits and keep them as a bunch. Secondly, contain their ethylene by wrapping banana stalks tightly with cling film and re-attach it every time you take one of them from the bunch. Save the Student claims that this will add up to five days to a banana’s lifespan.
14. Store apples with potatoes
Ethylene production isn’t always a bad thing, and according to the website House Beautiful you can use it to your advantage in the kitchen. Whereas bananas tend to ripen everything too quickly, other fruits produce different levels of ethylene. Take apples for example – which also emit the gas and can actually delay how quickly some vegetables rot.
Potatoes are one of the vegetables that can benefit from ethylene gas. The lifestyle website says that all you have to do is store them together with apples and the fruit will act as natural preserving agents. Apparently, the gas can keep the potatoes fresh for up to eight weeks longer.
13. Keep tomatoes upside down
Tomatoes are a nice juicy addition to any salad or sandwich if you can get to them before they wrinkle. And there’s a simple storage technique to keep them fresh, according to the magazine Cook’s Illustrated.
The magazine suggests removing the tomatoes’ stems and then placing them in a container upside down. This seals the gap that the tomato juice usually evaporates from and prevents moisture and air from getting out.
12. Store lettuce wrapped in kitchen towel
No one wants slimy lettuce, but you can delay this from happening if you store it right. There are many different approaches to doing so, but Save the Student claims that using kitchen towel is the most effective way. That’s because of its water absorbing properties – which keep your lettuce dry until you’re feeling hungry.
Apparently, all you have to do is dry the lettuce off and then put it into a container with a piece of kitchen towel to keep away moisture. And this method is even more effective if you switch the towel out for a fresh piece after a few days.
11. Keep dry goods in containers
Naturally, improper storage is a significant contributor to food waste, and that applies to dry goods, too. Sure, they may have a longer shelf life in general, but even they go off eventually. So how do you keep them from spoiling? Well, that’s where food containers come in handy.
For foodstuffs such as rice and cereal, House Beautiful suggests taking them out of their boxes and storing the products in containers with air-tight lids. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what material they’re made of; plastic tubs and glass jars work equally well. They’re also far more effective at keeping your food safe from tiny creepy crawlies than their original cardboard or paper packages.
10. Store mushrooms in paper bags
Mushrooms are another product that keep better outside of their original packaging, the Food Network says. Apparently, the most effective way to keep them at their best is similar to how we recommended storing lettuce. But the key difference between the two is the material you store them in.
Even after purchase, mushrooms need to breathe and plastic won’t let them do that. A paper bag, on the other hand, is a porous material and lets oxygen in. So, after you’ve washed the mushrooms and dried them off, wrap them up with kitchen towel and leave them in a paper bag in the fridge.
9. Freeze meat
It’s common knowledge that putting meat in the freezer will dramatically increase its shelf life. Indeed, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, uncooked meat can stay frozen for up to a year – while the cooked variety can be good for as long as three months.
Fresh meat reacts differently to freezing than a lot of fresh produce, and it doesn’t lose nutrition in the process. So, if you don’t intend to eat your meat in the very near future, freeze it. Both the cooked and uncooked variants can be safely frozen; but keep in mind that the length of time it can stay in the freezer depends on the type and cut of the meat.
8. Freeze eggs
Yes, that’s right, it isn’t a widely known fact but you can actually freeze eggs to make them last longer. And according to the cooking magazine Taste of Home, it’s not just cooked eggs you can store in the freezer; it works for the scrambled variety, too.
The publication also claims that cooked eggs can be stored in the freezer for up to a year. Apparently, you can also freeze the raw version, but don’t forget to remove their shells first or they’ll shatter. Also be sure to remove the white out of deviled or boiled eggs before freezing to avoid them turning rubbery.
7. Keep eggs at the back of the refrigerator
Naturally, a lot of people keep their eggs chilled in the refrigerator. But believe it or not, this method is apparently not very good for preserving eggs. As a result, if you don’t intend to freeze them, you may want to consider some grocery reshuffling.
According to Eggs.ca, the product lasts for longer periods of time at the back of a fridge shelf. That’s because like other foodstuffs, eggs are vulnerable to changes in localized climate, and there is a more consistent temperature at the back of the fridge. Otherwise, your eggs are just being exposed to shifting levels of heat every time you open your refrigerator door.
6. Keep dairy at the bottom of the refrigerator
And you might want to consider finding another home for other dairy products, too. Similarly to eggs, the fridge door isn’t the optimal place to store them for any length of time. The reason is the same, too; exposing them to shifting temperatures can make milk-based products spoil.
Real Simple magazine reporter Kimberly Holland suggests keeping dairy products in the bottom or middle shelf of the fridge. After all, the more time the foodstuff are exposed to the heat of the kitchen, the quicker bacteria will develop.
5. Don’t refrigerate bread
Fridges are great at keeping many foodstuffs chilled and fresh, but you should avoid storing bread without preservatives in them. Instead of adding to its lifespan, On Food & Cooking author Harold McGee states that refrigerators cause these types of bread to become stale up to six times faster.
Freezing bread is the best way to store it for long periods of time, but there are some alternatives. A bread bin will also maintain a consistent environment for bread preservation. You could just leave it on the counter too – preferably wrapped in plastic or foil. This can make the crust harder than usual, but a light toasting should remedy that problem.
4. Don’t wash produce before refrigerator storage
Of course, food should be washed before it’s consumed. But when it comes to storage, Healthline recommends keeping it unwashed. This method is the optimal way to keep fruit and vegetables, because moisture can rot some food quicker. Meanwhile, if you need to wash them ahead of time, be sure to then dry the food properly before storing.
But when it comes to washing your food, it’s important to clean off any bacteria that it may have picked up on its way to your home before tucking in. The exception to this is, of course, pre-washed vegetables – which generally come ready to eat.
3. Remove vegetable roots
Vegetables with roots may look nice, but they don’t actually store very well. These additions are actually detrimental to the freshness of your vegetables if you’re keeping them in storage, and the reason why is interesting.
Save the Student points out that roots take nutrients from the rest of the vegetable. This, of course, makes it die faster. So rather than holding onto the pretty addition to your favourite veg, be sure to cut those roots off before storage.
2. Revive stale bread
One thing many of us don’t know is that stale bread can still be perfectly edible. Although you have to be careful when eating off food, there are still ways to revive stale bread. We previously mentioned using a toaster, but there’s another way too – and this one involves the opposite end of the temperature scale.
According to House Beautiful, you can make stale bread soft again by using ice cubes. Simply rub one over the surface of a stale loaf before putting it in the oven. After 12 minutes, take your bread out and it should taste fresh again.
1. Store onions in stockings
This may sound bizarre, but stay with us. If you have a pair of clean natural-toned tights, MailOnline suggests popping spare onions in them. Separate each one with a knot for easy access, and they’ll apparently keep fresh for up to half a year.
According to the U.K. publication, tights keep humidity out and also provide the onions the air and light they need to stay fresh. Make sure to keep them in a cool place, too. It’s worth noting, though, that this trick doesn’t work with dark-toned stockings. They won’t allow much light through and as a result might cause your onions to sprout.