Food waste is one of today’s biggest issues. In America alone, approximately one pound of food per person is wasted DAILY.
Not only is this a terrible use of resources, but the expense of throwing away gone-off food can be crippling for some households.
Thankfully, there are ways you can minimize your household food waste. By putting a little effort into buying fresh, composting where possible, and only cooking what you need, you can reduce the amount of food that ends up in the trash.
Plus, with these food storage tips, you can make every ingredient and item in your fridge, freezer, pantry, and cupboards last that little bit longer, so you can maximize use and enjoyment out of every morsel.
Use Reusable, Stackable Containers
One of the best food storage tips we can give you is to invest in reusable and stackable food storage containers. Many are safe for storage in the refrigerator or freezer, and some can even be placed straight in the microwave or oven for reheating.
These food containers aren’t just great for leftovers; many foods actually last longer in reusable containers than they would in their original packaging – so it’s well worth the investment.
Ice-cube trays aren’t just great for cooling your cocktails on a summer evening; they’re also a thrifty food storage pro’s best friend!
Pretty much any sauce, jus, gravy, and even homemade stock can be quickly frozen in an ice-cube tray. Not only does this make leftovers last longer, but it also makes future use a breeze as you have pre-portioned cubes that can be defrosted and heated in a pan, ready for cooking.
One of my favorite uses for ice-cube trays is fresh herbs. Whenever my fresh herbs start to turn, I simply cut them up and mix them with a little butter or oil, then pour them into an ice-cube tray and freeze for later.
Tofu is an outstanding protein source for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone on a low-fat diet thanks to the high nutritional content and absence of animal products. But when you’re first learning how to use tofu, storing it correctly can seem like a challenge.
For anyone asking how long does tofu last, the package directions are generally spot-on. Once opened, you can store tofu for a few days, but you might find you have more success popping it in the freezer.
Not only does freezing tofu (in an airtight container) keep it “good” for up to 6 months, but it can also alter the structure of the soy block, making it more absorbent of seasoning and marinades, and reducing the excess water volumes.
Although a can of beans might seem like a quick, cheap, and easy option, buying your beans, legumes, and anything else in dried form is almost always considerably cheaper by volume.
Dried foods are also much easier to stack and tend to have a longer shelf life.
Cool and Dry
When storing fruits and veggies, it can be tempting to just throw it all in the refrigerator and forget about it… But not everything can live its best life in those cold conditions.
Potatoes, onions, garlic, avocado, tomatoes, squash, and many other items will actually go off quicker in the refrigerator, so you’re better off storing them in a cool, dry area like the pantry.
Many condiments are also fine to store in the cupboard, leaving more space in the fridge.
Organize Your Cupboards
This isn’t so much a storage hack as it is a general life hack… But keeping your cupboard, pantry, and even refrigerator well organized is an excellent way to reduce waste and make your life easier.
My favorite tip is to keep your tea, coffee, and sugar near the kettle, create a breakfast bar with cereals and bread, and store items with other ingredients for the same dish (baking ingredients together, for example).
This simple reorganization will save you a surprising amount of time when looking for ingredients for your next meal or snack. Plus, having everything nicely organized will save you spending money on things you already have and make it easier to spot when an item needs restocking.
Wrap Greens in Paper Towels
Green leafy veggies are certainly not known for their long lifespans, but did you know that wrapping your greens in paper towels can help them live longer? The paper towels help absorb excess moisture, preventing greens from withering or losing their crispiness.
There are a few other, similar hacks you can apply to keep other fruits and veggies better for longer, including:
- Keep celery crispy by wrapping the stalks in aluminum foil before storing in the fridge.
- Stop bananas ripening too quickly by wrapping the stems in plastic wrap (it’s also a good idea to hang your bananas to help them ripen at a more natural pace).
- Store your mushrooms in the refrigerator in a paper bag to keep them firm and dry for up to 10 days.
Learn How Fruit and Veg Affect One Another
There’s a reason sailors used to think that bananas on long voyages are bad luck…
When bananas ripen, they give off a particular gas that encourages other fruits to ripen more quickly and subsequently go bad more quickly. Storing bananas away from your other products will ensure your fruits and veggies last as long as possible.
On the flip side, some fruits and veggies are actually better together. Storing an apple with your potatoes, for example, helps potatoes stay fresh for up to twice as long!
Another surprising example of friendly foods is brown sugar and marshmallows… Simply pop a marshmallow or two in your jar of brown sugar and discover how the sugar maintains moisture and stays usable for far longer.
Get a Breadbox
Although breadboxes might seem like an incredible retro addition to your kitchen, the modern choice to store bread in the refrigerator is a little short of a crime against food! The cold temperatures in the fridge will only mean your bread goes stale quicker, and nobody enjoys a soggy loaf!
Bread does best in a cool dark place, so a breadbox is the perfect storage option… Plus, I personally think they look really cool!
Check Your Temperatures
Our final food storage tip is to check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. According to food experts, the optimal temperature for your refrigerator should be between 35’F and 38’F. The freezer should be between 0’F and -18’F.
Keeping your food stored properly is vital for getting the maximum enjoyment out of it. Whether it’s keeping your mushrooms safe in a paper bag or taking your bread out of the refrigerator, just a few small changes to your kitchen layout and organization can make a world of difference.