Veteran industry chefs and at-home enthusiasts alike enjoy diving into new and exciting recipes. When you’re consistently cooking a variety of meals at home, finding the perfect balance of a grocery list is tricky — how do you stock up enough produce, fruit, and staples like potatoes to cook enough meals without some of that food going bad?
There’s nothing worse than seeing fuzz on your berries or finding out your salad greens have turned slimy. When this happens to you, don’t hang up the apron and order takeout indefinitely. There’s a better way to eat every item you bought: improve your food storage techniques to make your groceries last longer.
Follow these food storage tips to cut down on your grocery bill while preventing waste and making the most out of each grocery store outing.
Best Food Storage Techniques
Food location, proximity to other foods, and storage temperature are all factors that affect the lifespan of your latest grocery haul. These at-home food storage upgrades will keep your kitchen comfortably stocked.
Push the Dairy Back
The shelves on your refrigerator door experience significant temperature fluctuation when the doors open and close. Many families store their milk and other dairy products on those shelves for easy access, which inevitably leads to dairy spoiling faster.
Prolong the shelf life of your almond milk or your creamer by storing dairy at the back of your refrigerator, preferably on the top shelf. Nestled in the back, where the temperature is reasonably constant, your dairy can remain fresh longer.
Separate Onions and Potatoes
Both onions and potatoes do best in a cool, dark, dry place like a pantry shelf. Because of these similar needs, many families logically store them, along with other dry goods like garlic, in the same place, like a bowl or a container in the pantry.
However, for optimum freshness, potatoes and onions should not be stored next to each other. Onions and potatoes draw out the gasses and moisture of one another, causing both to go bad and ripen faster. If you store them on the same shelf, add a divider for longer-lasting groceries.
Add Paper Towels
As any salad lover knows, the leaves inside bags of greens, lettuce, or spinach will become slimy after a few days. This effect is mostly due to moisture accumulation inside the bag that speeds up the decomposition process.
Prevent this unwanted residue by inserting a few paper towels into the bag or storage container where you keep your salad greens. Getting moisture away from the greens will help your salads stay crisp throughout the week.
Store Meat at the Bottom
When you store fresh meat on the top drawer of your refrigerator, the juices can escape and spoil the vegetables below, even if the plastic wrapping remains in place. Keep meat on the bottom drawer to contain those essential liquids from affecting your other groceries.
Out of room on the bottom shelf? You can keep your meat on any level as long as you place a tray or dish with a raised lip beneath it. In addition, separate cold cuts from other types of meat, like poultry, to avoid cross-contamination and limit your chances of experiencing an upset stomach after preparing a meat dish.
Pause the Washing
Some home chefs dedicate the minutes after arriving home from the supermarket to washing all of the fruits and vegetables they bought. If this is true for you, switch your routine for better results.
Mold will inevitably grow on damp produce. To avoid your latest batch of berries getting moldy, only wash produce when you are about to prepare it. Avoid chopping ingredients until you are about to cook them as well — chopping produce will release gasses and enzymes that can make food spoil faster.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a neat trick to save those berries from molding quickly. After a few days, soak your berries in a solution of three parts water and one part vinegar to remove bacteria and prevent molding. The key is to thoroughly pat dry your berries before placing them back into the fridge.
Best Food Storage Containers
Upgrade your food storage containers to add longevity to your vegetables, herbs, and leftovers.
Ditch the Paper
When you are storing your groceries, remove items like flour and grains from the store-provided paper packaging and transfer them to airtight containers. This simple step will prolong the freshness and eliminate the risk of bugs eating their way into your stockpile.
Restaurants and families who stick to a few essential recipes can conveniently store rice or flour in an ingredient bin in the pantry. For smaller cupboards, display your ingredients in clear, airtight storage jars to keep what you need within arms’ reach.
Respect Your Herbs
Fresh herbs are like flowers: without water, they wilt. Allow your herbs to thrive by storing them in the same manner that you would display a flower on your dining table. When you bring your green onions, asparagus, or stem-like herbs home, cut the stems and store the greens in a tall glass of water. Cover the top of the glass with a bit of plastic wrap and keep it in your refrigerator.
Cover Your Celery
Most celery comes wrapped in a rubber band or enclosed in a plastic bag. Once you arrive home, cover your celery bunch in a protective layer of foil to keep it fresh and crunchy for as long as four weeks.
Wrap Your Bananas
Before you store a new bunch of bananas, get out some plastic wrap and cover the crown. This precaution slows the release of ethylene gas, which in turn prolongs the ripeness of the bunch before they get too sweet and spoil. No need to wrap the individual bananas — all you need to cover is the crown.
Save Your Leftovers
Don’t let any meal go to waste. When you have substantial leftovers, transfer the food to a leakproof, clear container with an airtight lid. Many of our food storage containers include easy-to-read quart and liter measurements on the side so you can evenly distribute what remains when you dig in for seconds.
Freeze leftovers as soon as you can after preparation, and store leftovers in the refrigerator directly after the food cools down. Transfer any food for a later time into your fridge within two hours of preparation to prevent spoiling and aging.
By adopting these changes to your food storage routine, you can expect tastier, fresher produce for use in a variety of tantalizing recipes. Set yourself up for success with a home kitchen and routine designed to store food smarter.
Explore our food storage options today to upgrade your home kitchen and make the most of each trip to the grocery store.