10 Useful Food Storage Tips! Stop Wasting $$$

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Did you know that the average American household throws out about 25% of all food and beverages that it purchases? While that may not seem like a huge amount, consider the fact that it usually totals between $1300 and $2300 per year! I think you would agree that you would rather have that money in your pocket than in your garbage.

To help you stop wasting, not only your food, but your hard earned money, here are ten great food saving hacks

1. Potatoes and onions – if your potatoes are sprouting eyes, and your onions are turning green, improper storage is probably to blame. Produce such potatoes and onions (and this also goes for squash and garlic) must be stored in a cool, dark and dry place such as a cupboard (not the fridge). Be sure to keep different items separate when you store them.

2. Refrigerator temperature – to keep food fresh, it is important to ensure that your fridge is set at the correct temperature. Too cold (under 32 degrees F.) and food will start to freeze – too warm (over 40 degrees F.), bacteria will multiply more quickly causing spoilage. Ideally keep the temperature around 35 degrees F.

3. Use ethylene gas absorbers – these handy little items will slow down the rate at which your produce will ripen (and rot). Just toss one or two inside your crisper drawer and they will absorb the ethylene gas which is emitted by fruit as it ripens.

4. Bananas – bananas come with their own set of rules. As they ripen, bananas produce a LOT of ethylene gas which occurs as a result of the stem. Be sure to store bananas separately from everything else. If you want to slow down the ripening process, wrap the stems in plastic wrap. If you are planning to freeze bananas, be sure to peel them first, chop in half and store in a plastic freezer bag.

5. Lettuce – this is one of those vegetables that quickly becomes wilted and rather sad looking after only a couple of days in the fridge. To keep lettuce crisper longer, take it out of the plastic bag, wrap the entire head in a paper towel and then put back in the plastic bag before putting in the crisper. The paper towel will help to absorb moisture, so your lettuce won’t wilt as quickly.

6. Tomatoes – there is considerable debate as to whether tomatoes are best kept in the fridge or on the counter. Kept in the fridge, tomatoes can lose some of their flavour and take on a less desirable texture. Left on the counter, however they will go bad more quickly. Ideally, you should keep them on the counter and eat them within a few days, but if you don’t think you can finish them off before they turn, then it is better to keep them in the fridge.

7. Green onions – they wilt very quickly, so what do you do if you can’t eat them all in one meal? The answer is to stand them upright in a glass that has just enough water to cover the roots. This will keep the green part fresh and crisp. As a bonus, you can use just the green part and put the roots in water and they will even grow back for you!

8. Cheese – many people make the mistake of storing cheese in plastic, but this keeps air from getting out and can cause it to go mouldy faster. Instead, try wrapping cheese in parchment paper before putting it in the fridge to help it last longer.

9. Honey – a food that – miraculously – won’t go spoil! They have even found honey that was over 3000 years old that was perfectly safe to eat! Honey can be stored in the cupboard – if you find it starting to crystallize, just heat it up before using.

10. Nuts and seeds – it is best to keep nuts and seeds in the refrigerator. This is because they contain oils that can go rancid. Refrigeration will help them last.

Hopefully some of these tips will help prevent some of the food in your home from going to the trash – and that will save you money as well!

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Tomatoes on counter, the fridge ruins them. If you need them to ripen quickly, in a paper bag. Same for avocados. Condiments fridge. Nuts/seeds in freezer or fridge. Flours in freezer. Nuts oil in fridge. Celery that goes limp…cuts off bottom put in very cold water cup. Will crisp up. Same with leafy herbs like parsley and cilantro.
    Put cut/chopped lettuces in ice cold bowl to crisp up.

  2. My mother always told me to keep nuts, especially expensive pecans (live in the NC – hot and humid most of the year) as well as chocolate chips..we always need these on hand when somebody wants want cc cookies as well as coffee beans. All condiments go into the fridge because I like them cold and again, it just seems to keep them fresher….and…my mother also did that. I put flour in the fridge since we use it so infrequently. I had a Canadian BIL and he always insisted leaving the butter on the counter. That was plain yucky to me as it has dairy in it.

  3. These are really helpful tips that should be shared by everyone! I didn’t know that nuts and seeds should be stored in the fridge!

  4. If you need to store parsley / cilantro fresh, cut the bottom of the bunch, and put the bunch in a glass with a little water and set it in the fridge. Looks like you’re “fridging” flowers (to quote my son) but it keeps the leaves fresh and crisp for quite a while.

  5. I recently heard on an NPR interview that, interestingly, refrigerating tomatoes affects it’s chemistry such that it ruins the “aroma” of the fruit, not the texture. Also, I keep my condiments in the frig for who-knows-why. Sometimes the bottles says to refrigerate, but if it doesn’t, I just guess. Things I refrigerate: soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo (duh), relish, marinades, salad dressing, sesame seed oil (but not canola or olive oil…or vinegars).

  6. First time I’ve seen your videos and I love them. Ii love that you make cleaning so easy and fun. I’ve always separated my bananas but the tip about putting Saran wrap on the stem is going to be very useful. I can’t wait to buy some green onions and try your tip.

  7. In the fridge, BUT I wonder how long you should keep mustard, jams, salad dressing, marinades etc. in the fridge. Some of that stuff seems to be in there a long time. I suppose I should date it when it goes in? Suggestions welcome!

  8. Love, love, love your tips and videos!! I keep my condiments in the fridge. My mother did it that way so I do it that way. Great tip about the bananas.

  9. Keep condiments in fridge (way it’s always been done), live in Tennessee. Been leaving honey in cupboard just recently. Love your ideas so far.

  10. I lose my green onions and bananas fairly quickly, so I’m going to try your idea in New Hampshire. Lettuce is another problem. A friend once told me to separate the leaves, wash & dry, then separate each with a damp toweling. Then put the who thing back into a plastic bag. That’s great if your making lots of sandwiches. I’m going to try your trick with the whole head. I really think my veggies drawers are the problem. I can’t seem to get the humidity right.

  11. May I know whats the difference between artificial vinegar,rice vinegar and distiled vinegar ? Is articual vinegar the same as distiled vinegar

  12. I keep the condiments (ketchup/catsup, mustards, hot sauces, any mayo-based spreads, and BBQ sauces) in the fridge. I worked in a restaurant many years ago and saw first-hand ketchup and steak sauces turn within two days of being opened. Some people like that extra zippiness that ketchup gets when it sets out but I found the fermented taste off-putting. Same with A-1 and other steak sauces.

    I’d be interested in some of the hacks you suggest for storing fresh herbs and the luck you’ve had either keeping them out on the counter or wrapped up in paper towels in the crisper.

  13. I love your kitchen!! So clean ! And organized . I have noticed if I keep my tomatoes fridge then take one out to use it gets soft and is no longer get firm. So I try to eat my tomatoes in a few days. As for my condiments if it says refrigerat I do. Luv the videos keep up the awesome work

  14. I usually keep my condiments in the fridge, simply because they say so in the label: keep refrigerated after use. It’s quite warm here in the summer, so I believe it’s better to keep them there. 🙂

  15. Like the hint about bananas. Once you put the green onions in the glass do you leave it on the counter or put it in the fridge?

  16. I like the information that you have given. But what I’d like to know is, at my job at a hotel we keep bananas torn apart on top of the apples. The bananas go bad really quick. We can’t keep them wrapped like you mentioned. Is there any other way to keep bananas out on our breakfast bar? I usually end up taking them home and making a lot of banana bread (which I don’t mind doing).

  17. Very useful and simple tips and tricks to store food..I will definitely implement them to store my food stuff in my daily routine..thnx for sharing..

  18. Condiments in the fridge. Who likes warm ketchup? No thank you. I grew up in Iowa and now live in Ohio. Thanks for the awesome videos.

  19. I love your videos and tips. I have gotten so much useful advice. Bananas can be refrigerated whole in their skins once they have reached their desired ripeness. The skins will turn black but the banana is perfect inside. I never refrigerate tomatoes for the reasons you mentioned. All my nuts and seeds, especially flax, go into the fridge with the exception of chia. Apparently it lasts a long time without going rancid at room temp. If you have the space though and more chia than you could use in 6 months, you might want to put that in the fridge as well. aAl my seeds and nuts go into sterilized jars and this prolongs the shelf life. Thanks for the tip about covering the banana stem and putting lettuce in paper towels!

  20. I’m French, I’ve lived in Paris, France, most of my life and now, currently in Belgium. So, not quite a tropical weather.
    I’ve always kept my condiments in the fridge (ketchup, hot sauce, jams) because keptchup and jams go bad pretty quickly I think. Hot sauces, I’m not so sure. I remember staying at a friend’s house, where they keep the jam on the counter. I found it quite gross, because, it would get moldy very quickly but they would just scrap the moldy parts away and keep eating it.. yuk. I guess it’s like the people who wpread their jam with a spoon and the others with a knife hehe another debate.
    The only thing I keep out of the fridge is nut butters, honey and obviously Nutella :p

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