Life is expensive, but when it comes to food, there are plenty of ways to save money. You can plan meals ahead of time, eat seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables, and find different ways to step up your leftovers game. But when it comes to food, the easiest way to save yourself money (and reduce your food waste) is with a few brilliant food storage hacks. You may think you are good to just throw all your produce in the fridge, but you’d be surprised how much a few simple tweaks can help your food last way longer. You want to make sure you are getting the most out of your groceries, and that starts with how you store it.
I am sure you have found yourself digging through the fridge, only to find moldy cheese or spoiled produce. You have probably reached into your fruit basket, and come up with a mushy, rotting pear more than once. If you know how to properly store your food, you can actually preserve, or even extend, its shelf life. Not only does that save you another annoying trip to the grocery store, but it also saves you money. Talk about a win-win situation.
Here are nine food storage hacks that will help you do just that.
1. Store your tomatoes stem down
Tomatoes are good on just about everything, from your breakfast sandwich to your lunch time salad to your evening pasta dish, but they can go bad quickly if they aren't stored properly. The key? Avoid rotting tomatoes by storing them stem down. It will help keep moisture out, and freshness in.
2. Wrap your lettuce and other greens in a paper towel
If you're sick and tired of wilted lettuce, there is a trick for you. After purchasing your greens, rinse them in cold water, and wrap them in a paper towel before refrigerating. The paper towel will absorb unwanted excess moisture, and will ensure that your lettuce stays crisper for longer. If you really want to guarantee lasting freshness, store lettuce in a hard bodied container, like a box, instead of a bag.
3. Use bread slices to keep your cake fresh
Nothing is sadder than a stale cake — nothing. If you want each slice to be as moist and delectable as the first, secure pieces of bread to the cut ends of cake using a toothpick. This way, the moisture — and deliciousness — of your cake is kept right where it belongs.
4. Store potatoes with an apple
Potatoes can last a long time on their own if stored in a cool, dry place, but if you want to make them last even longer, try storing them with an apple. Though apples emit ethylene gases that cause other produce to ripen too quickly (read: store away from your other fruits and vegetables), when it comes to potatoes, apples can extend the shelf life of your potatoes, and prevent them from sprouting.
5. Make herb ice cubes to keep herbs longer
Fresh herbs are great, but when do you actually use the entire bunch of parsley you buy at the grocery store? Instead of letting your leftover herbs wilt in the bottom of your crisper drawer, chop them and freeze them in ice cubes made of olive oil and water instead. This way, your herbs don't rot or get dried out, and you can keep them for months. Besides, look how nice they look! That is some beautiful storage.
6. Store yogurt upside down
Mold happens, especially with large containers of dairy products, but you can easily make your giant tub of yogurt last longer. By storing things like cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt upside down, you create a vacuum in the container that keeps bacteria (and thus mold) from growing. Just be sure you're careful when opening!
7. Give in, and use canning jars already
You store your pencils in them, you use them as flower vases, but it's time to start using your mason jars and canning containers as they were meant to be used — as food storage. Canning jars are air tight, spill proof, and see through, which means you can keep your leftovers in them without worrying about having them dry out or get too moist, and you can always see what is inside of them. Forget the plastic Tupperware — glass is the way to go for fresher, longer lasting food storage.
8. Store your fruits and vegetables in separate places
Though you might think there's no harm in throwing your grapes into the crisper drawer with your lettuce, you're wrong. Fruits and vegetables emit different gases as they ripen, and those gases can cause the other to ripen too quickly. Prevent your food from spoiling too quickly by keeping them separate.
9. Don't keep eggs and milk in the fridge door
Even though there are special slots for your eggs and even sometimes for your milk, do not store these food items on your refridgerator door. The door is the place in the fridge that is kept at the most inconsistent temperature, thanks to the many times you open and close it a day, so keeping your milk and eggs there will cause them to go bad more quickly. Instead, keep things like mayo, salad dressings, and ketchup — things that don't spoil easily — on the door, and keep your eggs and milk tucked away on a shelf. You'll never have to smell sour milk again... hopefully.
For more food ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.