Often times, when we grocery shop, we tend to buy more than we really need. Throwing in a few extra apples, a couple more handfuls of green beans, or an extra piece of meat from the butcher. But what ends up happening? It gets thrown away. You might as well be throwing money straight in the garbage can!
Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help keep your food fresh for longer so you don’t end up tossing it in the trash.
Scroll through this handy slideshow to help get the most out of your groceries and your dollar.
Here are 50 ways to keep your fruits, veggies, and other perishables fresh for longer.
#1 Wrap banana stems
When bananas ripen and mature, they release ethylene gas which eventually softens the fruit and turns the skin brown. Help keep bananas fresh for longer by wrapping the stems with foil or plastic wrap. This prevents the gas from escaping and keeps the bananas firm and yellow.
#2 Separate and hang onions
Onions will stay fresh for longer by storing them separately by type. Also, moisture is the enemy for onions so keeping them in a cool, dark spot ithe best bet for ultimate flavor. Place them in stockings and hang them inside your pantry for the ultimate onion storage.
#3 Garlic likes the dark
Garlic will stay flavorful and fresh if you keep it in a dark and dry place. Try putting bulbs and cloves in a paper bag in the pantry or a cupboard. If the bulbs are intact, they can last for up to 2 months. If separated, the cloves can be stored for 3-10 days.
#4 Parsley, cilantro, and basil
Herbs can lose their potency and flavor if they aren’t stored properly. Keep herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil in prime condition by storing them in water at room temperature as you would flowers. They will stay nice and fresh for around 5 days.
#5 Keep potatoes out of the light
Potatoes are another produce item that doesn’t like to be in the sunlight or moisture. Put them in a paper or mesh bag instead and keep them in a cool, dark pantry where the temp is around 44-51 degrees Fahrenheit. Stored this way, you can have potatoes around for 1 to 2 weeks.
#6 Ripen avocados in paper bags too
If you happened to purchase avocados that are just still a little bit too hard, you can speed the ripening process by putting them in a paper bag. If you want to keep them harder for longer, so you can use them later, you can store avocados in the fridge.
#7 Tomatoes don’t like the cold
“The more mature the tomatoes are, the more concentrated their flavors are. When they come into contact with the freezer and remain at that temperature, they lose their flavor. The best thing to do is to keep them at a temperature above 50ºF. Their storage time can vary from 3 weeks to 2 months, depending on how ripe they are when they are purchased,” says Brightside.
#8 Mushrooms can team up with parsley
Mushrooms can be kept super fresh by storing them in a paper bag with a sprig of parsley. The parsley acts as an antioxidant and prevents spots from appearing on the mushrooms. Then put the bag in the fridge.
#9 Wash your strawberries in vinegar
Right when you get your strawberries home, give them a wash with a little bit of white vinegar and water then store in the fridge. Doing this won’t affect the flavor and can make them last around 5-6 days.
#10 Wrap leafy greens in paper towels
Whether it’s lettuce, spinach, or collards, wash them in cold water then dry them off. Wrap the leaves in a paper towel and store the greens in a plastic bag or container. You can be eating those leafy greens for up to two weeks!
#11 Hang on to halved lemons
Just because you only needed half a lemon or lime doesn’t mean you need to toss out the other half. Instead, wrap the other half in aluminum foil or put a little salt on the pulp and store in the fridge. You’ll just need to rinse the salt off before using again. The half should last another 3 days without losing its flavor.
#12 Keep cut avocados green
Avocados can oxidize quickly and end up turning brown and unappetizing. Keep the flesh green by squeezing a little bit of lemon juice on it or brushing with a little oil. Then, place in the fridge to keep fresh for another 2 days.
#13 Preserve peeled potatoes
After peeling potatoes, they can take on an unappealing gray color. Prevent this by putting them in a container with water, add a couple of drops of white vinegar, and put it in the fridge. Surprisingly, they’ll stay nice and crisp for up to 4 days without changing the flavor.
#14 Save overly ripened bananas
If your bananas have already gotten too ripe, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still eat them. Just unpeel the banana, toss in a plastic bag, throw in the freezer and then blend it up in smoothies. They can last for nearly 3 months!
#15 Save herbs for weeks
“This is a great way to use your freezer to preserve herbs. Finely chop the herbs or plants you want to use and pack the wells of ice cube trays with them. Add melted butter (let it cool before freezing) or extra virgin olive oil,” says Brightside.
#16 Line your crisper drawers
Keep all of your veggies crisp and fresh just a little longer by lining your crisper drawers with paper towels. They will absorb any moisture and prevent and premature rotting.
#17 Save rotting tomatoes
Have you noticed your tomatoes are going a little too mushy and soft? Hurry up and save them by roasting them in chunks or slices. Place them in a container with olive oil and you can keep them in your fridge for about a week.
#18 Hang on to celery, carrots, and radish
“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!” says One Good Thing by Jillee.
#19 Coat your squash with oil
Keep your squashes fresh for longer by rubbing the skin with a thin coat of vegetable oil. Store them in the fridge and you can hang on to that squash for months!
#20 Keep apples away from other fruit
Apples, like bananas, give off ethylene gas which can cause other fruits to decay faster. So, to keep your other fruits from ripening too quickly, keep your apples in a separate storage area.
#21 Triple your green onion’s lifespan
Store green onion in a jar of water on your countertop at room temperature. The tops will continue growing and you can just snip a little bit off every time you need it!
#22 Asparagus should be stored in water too
If you don’t plan on using your asparagus right away, store it in the fridge with its ends in water. Stand the bunch upright in a glass of water.
#23 Storing fish properly
When buying fish, it’s always best to eat it right away. But if you need to store it overnight, keep it in a bag on top of a bowl of ice in the fridge. If you need to store it longer, it’s best to freeze it.
It’s always best to store eggs in their original containers or cartons. If you’re unsure if an egg is fresh, here’s an easy test! Place an egg in a cup of water, fresh eggs will sink while old eggs will float.
#25 Keeping meat and poultry around
“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. Smoked meats like bacon, ham, etc. can be wrapped in a vinegar-dampened cloth, then wrap the whole thing in wax paper and freeze,” says One Good Thing by Jillee.
#26 Keeping flour fresh
You might not think flour goes bad, but it does. To make sure it maintains optimum freshness, freeze your flour for 48 hours after buying it. Then, transfer it to a tightly sealed container and store in a dark, cool place.
#27 Be savvy about your coffee
Always buy whole bean coffee, that way, you can grind it when you need it and it will have the most flavor. Store the beans in an airtight and opaque container to keep it fresh. Try and use it within 3-4 days, if you have extra, freeze it.
#28 Prevent weevils from invading
Prevent weevils from invading your flour, cornmeal, or rice by storing a bay leaf in the container. The scent of the bay leaf will deter the bug.
#29 Keep your bread moist
“Storing bread in the fridge can actually cause it to store more quickly due to the moist environment. Bread is best kept on your countertop in a tightly sealed bag or container,” says One Good Thing by Jillee.
#30 Don’t let dry goods go stale
Invest in some airtight, see-through food storage containers for your dry goods. Things like cereal, pasta, pretzels will all stay fresh for much longer. Mason jars work great too!
#31 Prevent salt from clumping
If you living in a humid area, you’re probably familiar with table salt clumping up in its shaker. Prevent this by tossing in a pinch-full of dry rice. The rice will absorb any excess moisture which means no more clumps!
#32 Prevent brown sugar from hardening
Brown sugar can go from fresh to hard as a rock in no time at all. Prevent this from happening by storing brown sugar in your freezer. If it’s already rock-solid, toss in a piece of bread or a marshmallow to help soften it right up.
#33 Honey tips
Honey never actually expires but it can become cloudy or crystallized. To make it “fresh” and viscous again, toss it in the microwave on medium heat in 30-second increments until you have the desired consistency.
#34 Properly store your cheese
Before you put your cheese in the refrigerator, be sure to wrap it securely with wax paper. Also, after you’ve cut cheese, you can rub a little butter on the cut part to keep it from hardening. For extra long storage time, you can even freeze cheese! If it’s shredded, be sure to add a little corn starch so the pieces don’t clump together.
#35 Watch where you put your milk
“Keep milk in the main part of your fridge rather than the door. Items stored in the door of your fridge are subjected to temperature fluctuations every time the fridge door is opened. Milk will stay fresh for longer if kept nice and cold!” One Good Thing by Jillee.
#36 Extend the life of your sour cream or cottage cheese
Keep your sour cream and cottage cheese fresh for longer, store it upside-down! When you do this, it creates a vacuum which reduces the chance of mold or bacteria from growing.
#37 Fresh butter
Always be sure to store your butter in its original packaging. Butter freezes well, so stock up when it’s on sale and toss in the freezer. It can last for up to 6 months!
#38 Freeze berries correctly
Freezing berries is a great way to store them while maintaining their freshness. First, though – lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Then, toss in a Ziplock bag and put back in the freezer for long-term storage. Now, the berries won’t clump!
#39 Prevent cut fruits from browning
“To prevent browning on cut fruits like apples, pears, and avocados, apply lemon juice to the cut surface, then apply cling wrap directly against the surface, creating a seal to keep air out and prevent oxygenation,” according to the Diabetes Council.
#40 Freeze the beef
If you don’t plan on eating ground beef within 24 hours, be sure to toss it in the freezer to maintain freshness. Simply thaw when you’re ready to eat!
#41 Same goes for leftovers
The same concept goes for leftovers. If you’re not going to be eating them within a day or two, freeze them in individual airtight containers and pull them out for easy go-to dinners.
#42 Italian bread
Put loaves of Italian bread in a plastic bag instead of the paper kind. And if you’re not going to be using it right away, slice it, put in a Ziplock, and freeze it for later.