Everyone knows that food is costly. People spend hundreds to even thousands of dollars every month just to keep the fridge and pantry stocked. While people know what they are paying to get their food, many don’t realize how much goes to waste.
The inherent nature of food is to spoil. It only stays fresh for so long after you bring it home from the supermarket. If you don’t use it soon, you lose your goods entirely and all that money ends up in the trash. Fortunately, though, there are quite a few tips and tricks out there to keep your food game running strong.
If you’re tired of watching all your hard-earned money go straight to the landfill, you’re going to love this list. Here are 35 ways you can keep your food fresh longer and more money in your pocket.
1. Use a paper towel to keep lettuce fresh
Greens are definitely a necessity if you want a healthy diet, but they don’t stay good for long. Change that by lining your crisper drawer with a paper towel. It will suck up all the extra moisture from the lettuce and keep your greens crisp and fresh.
2. Bananas like to be in bundles
Ever notice how the stores try to keep bananas in bunches? That’s because they stay fresh longer while in a bundle. If they’re already past their prime, stick them in the freezer to make banana bread later.
3. Keep an apple with your potatos
Nobody wants to deal with cutting sprouts out of their potatoes. Fortunately, there’s a hack to keep them sprout-free for a while longer; just toss an apple in the bag. Apples emit ethylene gas as they sit, which keeps potatoes from going soft and sprouting on you prematurely.
4. Just don’t keep apples with other fruits
For this same reason, you want to keep your apples away from all your other fruits. Ethylene may keep potatoes fresh, but it spoils other produce in a hurry. Instead, keep apples in a plastic bag in the fridge (and one with the taters). You’ll be amazed at how much you save on all your produce!
5. Soak your berries in vinegar
Berries are one of the priciest items at a grocery store, and also one of the first to spoil. Throw a wrench in the spokes of this process with a simple vinegar soak. Just mix one cup of white vinegar with 3 cups of water and soak the berries for 30 minutes. The vinegar will kill any bacteria or mold spores present and keep your berries fresh and firm for much longer.
For a full tutorial, check out this farmer’s secret to keeping berries fresh. You can always trust a farmer when it comes to food hacks.
6. Keep tomatoes on the counter
Yes, a tomato is a fruit and no, it doesn’t belong in the fridge. Ever noticed how a tomato from the fridge is stripped of its flavor and somehow not as juicy? That’s because they prefer to be room temp. Just keep them on the counter and if they get too ripe, make some canned tomatoes for later. If you want quality right from the start, check out this tip to picking the perfect ‘maters.
7. Use foil to keep celery fresh longer
Just like most fruits and veggies, celery off-gases ethylene, too. To keep your celery from going limp or dry, wrap it in aluminum foil instead of plastic. This will allow the celery to “breathe” out the gas and stay nice and crisp for your munching needs.
8. Keep herbs like a bouqet
Alongside berries, herbs are one of the quickest foods to spoil if left in the grocery bag in the fridge. Never lose another leaf to spoiling with this tip. Just take your herbs and stand them in a shallow glass of water as you would a bouquet of flowers. Keep them on a sunny windowsill and they will keep until you’re ready to use them. You might even be surprised with new growth!
9. Or just freeze them
If you find your herbs are already a bit past their prime, you can also freeze them in a bit of olive oil. Next time you need to add a little pick-me-up to your meal, just pop the herb and oil “ice” in a frying pan to heat it up for a delicious pop of flavor.
10. Mushrooms keep better in paper
When it comes to mushrooms, a paper bag should be your only option. This has everything to do with their slime factor. Mushrooms absolutely, without a doubt, need to be able to breathe. Otherwise, they rapidly break down into a stinky, sticky slime that will only be good for the compost.
If you keep them in a paper bag too long, they may become dry but you can easily replump them with a quick rinse in water.
11. Let your avocados ripen on the counter
Often times avocados aren’t fully ripe when sold, and that’s because they ripen up fast. If you take them home and pop them in the fridge when hard, though, they will stay that way. To make them last, ripen them on the counter and then put them in the fridge to keep them from spoiling.
12. Keep your onions in stockings
Not your best pair, of course, but if you’ve got some old ones in the back corner of the drawer this is the perfect upcycle for them. Just slip an onion in, tie a knot right beneath it, and repeat the process with the rest of your onions. After they’re all in, hang the stocking from the ceiling in a cool, dark area. They will keep for months this way.
13. Keep raisins in an airtight container
It can take quite a while for grapes to turn into raisins but, once they do, they can spoil fast from there. If you don’t like dealing with rubbery, glued-together clumps of raisins, keep them in an airtight container. This will keep the moisture content evenly distributed for all your raisin sprinkling needs.
14. Rejuvenate your greens with ice water
Do not, we repeat, DO NOT torture your soul by eating wilted greens. It’s too easy to restore them to their crispy fresh condition. Just separate leaves and soak them for 5-20 minutes in a bowl of ice water and watch your lettuce become new again.
15. Keep chopped veggies fresh in a jar of water
Certain veggies love to be submerged in water. To keep carrots, celery, and radishes fresh and ready-to-eat, just chop ’em up and toss them in a jar of water. Seal the jar and keep them in the fridge. They will outlast almost everything else in your fridge.
16. Coat squash in oil
Ever notice how sometimes squash comes with a thin layer of wax on them? This is how commercial farmers preserve them for the market, but not all of them do. If you want to keep whole squashes for a lengthy amount of time, buff them down with some vegetable oil. Pour a small amount on a paper towel and rub a thin layer all over the squash. Make sure it is clean and completely dry before doing so to ensure a long shelf-life.
17. Stand asparagus bundles in water
Like many herbs, asparagus will keep fresh much longer with their ends in water. Just grab a wide-mouthed jar and put an inch or so of water in the bottom. Stand the asparagus in the jar ends-down and have it to hand when you’re ready for it.
18. Same goes for your green onions
Believe it or not, you can increase the lifespan of your green onions by 3 times as much this way. Just keep the jar on the counter or window sill in a sunny spot. Now you’re actually growing yourself fresh chives that can be snipped as needed.
19. Keep garlic in an open container
Garlic is one of those sneaky spoilers. They seem to last forever, until they don’t. The best way to store them is in whole heads, unpeeled, in an open container. Don’t keep them in the fridge, as the humidity will encourage sprouting and mold growth. Instead, keep the conatiner in a cool, dry, dark space. They can last up to six months this way.
20. Keep fish on ice
Fish should always be kept ice-cold until it’s ready for cooking. If you plan on using it within a day or two, put it in a bag and place in a bowl of ice in the fridge. Otherwise, seal it in a bag and pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
21. Keep meat in its original packaging
To minimize the risk of contamination, meat should be left in its original packaging if you’ll be using within a few days. If not, wrap it tightly in foil or seal in a plastic bag and freeze for later. Smoked meat can be wrapped in a vinegar-soaked cloth and then in wax paper before you freeze it.
22. Freeze your flours
Ever opened your flour and discovered weevils worked their way in? If this happens, empty your flour into freezer bags, label and date them, then freeze them for 48 hours. This will kill any weevils and you can sift them out later. Do this as soon as you purchase to prevent them from invading in the first place.
23. Use whole coffee beans
Everyone knows fresh ground coffee can’t be beat. Buy whole beans and grind as needed. The beans will keep in an opaque, air-tight container for 3 to 4 days. If you have surplus beans, just keep them in the freezer until you need them for max freshness.
24. Keep a Bay leaf in your bulk foods
Another way to deter weevils is to place a Bay leaf in your dry bulk foods. The smell sends them running for the hills and keeps them out of your goods. This will work for flour, rice, cornmeal, beans and even pasta!
25. Keep bread on the counter
Bread molds more quickly in the refrigerator. This is due to the high humidity content. Keep it on the counter and it will stay fresh longer and won’t have that stale refrigerator taste to it. Seriously people…there are bread boxes for a reason.
26. Put your dry goods in an airtight container
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people just leave their cereals and other dry goods in the box or bag they came in. This will only make your food stale as air moves in and out of the packaging. Instead, keep them in airtight containers to preserve freshness.
27. Keep salt from clumping with rice
If salt is left in a humid environment, it can easily clump up on you. Fortunately, you can prevent this with just a pinch of dry rice. Add it into your salt-shaker and the rice will absorb any moisture in the shaker and leave your salt free-flowing.
28. Rejuvenate brown sugar with a marshmellow
Brown sugar maintains quite a bit of moisture on its own, and is always prone to clumping. Sadly, those clumps can turn to indestructible rocks in no time at all. Before straining yourself trying to break them up, just toss a couple marshmellows in. The sugar will absorb the slight bit of extra moisture from the marshmellow and loosen right up. Don’t have a marshmellow? Use a small chunk of fresh bread, instead!
29. Warm your honey
Honey can literally last for thousands of years. When it gets cold, though, it can crystallize and harden into a rock. Don’t toss it, though! You can easily restore it to its liquid state by sticking the jar in a bowl of hot water to melt it back down.
30. Wrap cheese in waxpaper
Wax paper is a magical thing for cheese. It is breathable enough to keep your cheese dry without letting it become hard in the fridge. Just wrap it over the cut end of your brick. If you don’t have wax paper, the same effect can be achieved by spreading a thin layer of butter over it.
31. Don’t keep milk in the door of your fridge
With as much as you get in and out of your fridge, everything that sits in the door is subject to warming up a lot faster than what’s on the shelves. Keep milk and other dairy products in the main compartment of the fridge so it always stays cool.
32. Keep cottage cheese and sour cream upside down
After you peel the plastic film away, your cottage cheese and sour cream are susceptible to spoiling much faster. By flipping the containers upside down, it will create a vaccuum of sorts and keep mold from growing.
33. Keep butter in its packaging
If you aren’t using your butter right away, keep it in its store packaging and pop it in the freezer. Once butter comes into contact with air it begins the spoiling process. Keeping it wrapped tight and frozen will allow it to keep for months.
34. Pre-cut fruits and veggies
Everyone loves a good watermelon, but no one wants to do the cutting. Sadly, a lot of tasty fruits go bad due to lazy munchers. By chopping up your melons, pineapples, and other tedious-to-chop fruits ahead of time, it will be ready to go when you want to snack. This means it will actually get eaten instead of spoiling on the counter in favor of easier fare.
35. Shop local
One of the best ways to keep your food fresh for longer is to start buying it locally. No, this doesn’t mean from your local Kroegers of Safeway. We mean hit up your farmers’ market, or even the farmer’s fields up the road during harvest season. This means less time from field to table, which means longer shelf life for you. As a bonus, you get to know the people growing your food and how they grow it.
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There is no good reason to waste money by letting your food spoil. Hopefully these tips will keep you stocked in fresh eats and save you boat loads of cash in the process. Please SHARE this with your friends and family. If you like what you learned, make sure to check out this article on 40 gadgets that will make life in your kitchen a breeze!