As easy and convenient as pantry items and frozen dinners are, it’s also important to have fresh groceries in the house. Fresh produce contains the majority of nutrients that we need to be healthy, but they can take another level of attention that our pre-packaged counterparts don’t need. Here are some tips to help you store your groceries properly and keep them fresher for longer.
If you want your groceries to last as long as possible in your fridge:
- Make sure you’re buying them fresh in the first place.
- Pay attention to the “best before” dates at the grocery store.
- Make sure the fruits and vegetables are not overly ripe when you purchase them unless you want to use them right away.
- Avoid green veggies that are already starting to wilt, buy slightly greener bananas, and watch out for wrinkly bell peppers.
Certain fruits and vegetables go bad quickly when they absorb moisture that collects in the fridge. Line your veggie drawer with a few paper towels to absorb any excess moisture and keep your food from spoiling. You can also purchase produce containers like the ones I use here that are designed to keep your fruits and vegetables away from the moisture that can degrade them. Leafy greens, berries, and other fruits and vegetables with high water content are especially sensitive to moisture. Make sure you don’t pre-wash these foods— even though it might cut down on meal prep time, it will shorten their life span. Wash them instead when you are about to use them. Mushrooms might be purchased in a sealed container, but moisture can collect and make them slimy and brown. Store them in a paper bag or put them in a container lined with paper towels instead to keep your fungus fresher for longer.
Keep the apples and bananas away from other fruits and veggies. These fruits release ethylene gas, which is a compound that makes other ethylene-sensitive produce ripen more quickly. So, although your fruit bowls look put together, they’re not keeping your fruits fresh. If you’re storing apples in the fridge, put them in a sealed bag. Avocados, tomatoes, and pears also produce higher levels of ethylene gas and should be stored separately.
Put your fresh herbs in a jar of water outside of the fridge, like a bouquet. Change the water frequently to keep them fresher for longer. Green onion also lasts much longer this way and will even grow new tops! This will expand the lifespan of your herbs by weeks.
Keep your bananas separate — keeping them in a bunch will make them ripen much faster. It helps to wrap the stem to keep them for longer periods of time. Sometimes bananas come in a plastic bag from the grocery store. If this is the case, remove it when you get home and reuse it somewhere else. Bananas need good air circulation to last long. If your bananas become overly ripe, peel them and store them in the freezer for smoothies, baking, or n’ice cream – non-dairy ice cream. Here’s a recipe for you.
Store potatoes and onions in a cool and dark place, such as the bottom of the pantry, but don’t put them together. Onions also release ethylene gas that will make your potatoes rot quickly. Onions and potatoes can last for weeks in a dark and cool room, but they don’t do very well in cold refrigerators or warm temperatures.
If you have followed me for a while on socials you will know that I buy my groceries fortnightly or every two weeks, so keeping the fresh items I purchase fresher for longer is important to me so that I am not wasting money and I’m not contributing to food waste. You can make your groceries last longer too just by following some of these simple steps.