Did you know that globally, almost 1 billion tons of food go to waste yearly? In the United States alone, the average person wastes 238 pounds of food, costing about $1,800 per year. That’s a lot of food AND a lot of money. One of the reasons that food goes to waste is spoilage due to improper storage.
We put together a list of food-saving tips to make those grocery bucks go further.
Storing your green snacks can save you some greenbacks
- Store your greens with paper towels in a plastic or glass storage container. The paper towel will absorb excess moisture that would normally cause the lettuce to wilt.
- Pop-out those ice cubes and make room in your tray, because cut-up herbs can be successfully frozen in olive oil. You can even transfer them to a different container if your ice decides it wants its home back, or pop an herb cube into your Nana’s famous chicken soup recipe. Did someone say easy??
- Taco Tuesday wouldn’t be complete without avocado or guacamole. But if you end up with leftovers, you can store avocado halves with lemon or lime juice, or add it to the guacamole leftovers to prevent them from turning brown and oxidizing. The citric acid will act as a natural preservative. And while we’re on the topic, the same can be done to prevent apple slices from browning!
- Create a “crisper drawer.” Most fridges have them, but knowing how to properly utilize your crisper drawer can help your veggies stay fresher longer. Most of these drawers allow you to adjust the humidity between high and low by closing or opening small vents (the more open, the less humidity and more airflow). Leafy vegetables and greens should live in a high-humidity drawer, whereas fruits need low humidity since they release ethylene, a gas that speeds up the ripening process.
- Place asparagus and scallions upright in water, like a bouquet of flowers that say “I love you, and I care about how much you cost.” Simply trim the bottoms and place them in a jar with 1-2 inches of water, covering the top with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. The same trick applies to cilantro, an herb that can quickly decay and turn brown (eww!). You can also place green onion cuttings in water and they’ll regrow more stems from the scraps. How’s that for propagation??
- Remove the tops of root vegetables before storing them. The tops will suck nutrients out of your veggies.
- Onions, potatoes, and garlic should be stored in a well-ventilated bag in the pantry to prevent spoilage. But DON’T store onions next to potatoes – the onions release a gas that will make potatoes sprout. However, potatoes do like the company of apples, because they offset a beneficial type of gas to potatoes. So, onions with potatoes, NO; apples with potatoes, YES!
- Rinse berries in a mild vinegar solution to help kill bacteria, and dry them fully before storing. Usually you don’t want to wash your produce until right before use, but berries are the exception, so do your best to remember: berries = vinegar. Seems like a strange combo, but trust us, it works!
- Another fruit that releases gas is bananas, so they need to be stored away from other fruits (for obvious reasons). You can also wrap the tops with cling wrap to prolong their life.
Oh, and just for kicks, we have some extra tips! Check it out.
- Store milk in the back of your fridge. Your fridge has different zones, and the back is the coldest. You can even freeze milk if it’s nearing its doom-date. But one thing to avoid is storing your milk in the fridge door – so if it’s there right now you may want to go move it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
- Store meat on the bottom shelf of your fridge. It will stay the coldest and won’t drip onto other foods, which can immediately spread bacteria.
- Cheese is no stranger when it comes to aeration, and nobody wants to waste their hard-earned cheddar by throwing away cheddar. Wrap cheese in parchment paper, a more breathable material, instead of plastic wrap or tin foil.
- Dry goods should be kept in air-tight containers, such as jars and plastic boxes, because they keep out unwanted air and also those tiny, pesky bugs like mites and insects. It’s never fun when they invite themselves in! You can also store dry foods in cans.
- Cookies can be stored with bread. Now hear us out before you form an opinion – a small slice of bread can be added to your cookie container to lend moisture. So if you prefer your cookies chewy and soft, give it a try!
- Maple syrup and other syrups should be stored in the freezer if you don’t plan to use them anytime soon. Or even if you do, they won’t freeze due to the sugar, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling out your next pancake breakfast.
- You should also store nuts in the freezer to keep them fresh longer. Due to their high unsaturated fat content, they’ll go bad faster than you think, especially when exposed to light and oxygen.
- Stale bread can still be eaten, just spray it lightly with water or rub it with an ice cube and place it back in the oven. Voila, soft as a feather!
- Store refrigerated items in glass containers so you can see what there is to eat, and promptly remove spoiled foods to prevent mold from spreading. This could go without saying, but we thought the extra tip wouldn’t hurt.
Now that you know some super-saving ideas, it’s easy to see that keeping your potatoes away from your onions really isn’t that hard, and doesn’t take food-saving genius to do. With a little effort, you can take these ideas and permanently change how you store your food. Because in the end, the savings can really add up!
Interested in more ways you can save money, outside of your produce and dry foods? Check out our Smart Money page.