Tips to Extend the Life of your Food
We’ve all been there. That disappointing moment when you realize that the delicious dish you were planning for dinner requires ten ingredients that have all gone bad in your fridge. You find yourself frustrated, thinking, “I’m sure I only brought these a few days ago!” but alas, the food has gone rotten and can’t be salvaged. What to do?
Now you’re faced with two options. Either go back to the supermarket or reach for another takeout menu. Both more hassle and money than you were willing to put into your dinner tonight!
Although we can’t really help with the food that’s already gone bad, we can help you avoid this unhappy circumstance going forward, with our life hacks to help you extend the life of your food so that you can enjoy longer between shopping trips and less waste!
What’s more, our guide on how to extend the life of your food is only the tip of the iceberg. Once you’ve got the hang of these, you’ll be begging for more innovative and life-hack ways to keep your food fresher for longer! And we know you won’t be disappointed.
Learn proper food storage
Before we teach you any clever tricks to prolong the life of your food, you need to learn how to store it correctly. Items such as potatoes, onions, and even tomatoes are commonly left in the fridge when in reality, potatoes and onions last a lot longer in a cool, dry area like a dark cupboard. In contrast, tomatoes do their best on the counter out of direct sunlight.
Not only do many people make the mistake of putting the wrong things in the fridge, but many people don’t realize that the refrigerator actually features certain parts that are specifically designed for different things. For example, most fridges have a cold zone located at the back of the top and middle shelves, a moderate zone towards the front, and a more humid zone at the bottom. This is the ideal place to store vegetables. By keeping your products in the right part of your fridge you will massively improve their shelf life. Winner!
You should also check you’re using the right temperatures. For the best results, your fridge should be at 40’F or below, and freezers should be at 0’F or below.
Invest in food storage containers
Not only will food storage containers help with cross-contamination and keep your food fresh in the sealed containers, but they’re also great for decluttering your pantry and fridge. Look out for food storage containers that are safe to go in the freezer so you don’t need to worry about needing new ones for frozen food or leftovers. Also, we recommend you try to get a variety of different sizes so you can efficiently package your food.
Use a vacuum sealer
Another great way of preserving produce is to invest in a vacuum sealer. By sucking out the air, you’ll keep your food fresher for longer as there’s nothing for the food to react with. It’s worth writing dates on vacuum-sealed foods, however, as although they will last longer even with a vacuum sealer, things won’t last forever! Vacuum sealing food is also an excellent way of avoiding dreaded freezer burn.
Use cling wrap efficiently
Okay, so cling wrap isn’t our absolute favorite thing at the moment as we’re trying to cut down on plastic consumption, but we can’t deny how useful cling wrap is for extending the life of our food.
To avoid using too much plastic, use things like cling wrap intelligently to prolong food life. One example of using cling wrap well is by wrapping the tops of a bunch of bananas to slow down the ripening process and keep the whole bunch fresher for longer, rather than wrapping the entire bunch. Bet you didn’t know that little hack did you?
Repurpose food on the turn
So you let yourself slip and have some food that’s about to turn. Not everything on the turn is necessarily waste as there are some great tips to make the most of food that might otherwise you might end up throwing away! We love using on-the-turn herbs and cooking them with butter, placing into an ice cube tray, and freezing for a later date: instant herby butter that can be melted and cooked into your next dish!
Homemade stocks and soups are also great for veggies that are on their way out, as you simply boil these together to pull out the flavor without worrying about the texture of overripe carrots or other foods. As with the herb-butter, soups and stocks can easily be portioned up and frozen for an easy meal the next time you can’t be bothered to cook.
Discover food life-hacks
Along the same lines, learning a few life-hacks for food preservation can come in really handy! We love tricks like putting a paper towel in with the lettuce to stop it wilting, using lemon juice to revitalize a tired avocado, using paper bags to store mushrooms, and that funny trick of putting an apple in with your potatoes. All of these tricks do a great job of extending the life of your food without any hassle, and there are literally thousands more to learn and experiment with! They’re not just the stuff of old wives’ tales. They’re tried and tested techniques that have been successfully passed down through the generations.
Do regular inventory checks
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure you’re not wasting your food is to do regular inventory checks. Being aware of what foods you have on hand and when they’re going to go off will allow you to prioritize when meal prepping and waste less. We also recommend keeping the foods closest to expiring at the front of your cupboards/fridge/freezer, so you have a reminder to use those ingredients first!
So there you have it, some easy to implement, tried, and tested tips that will help you extend the life of your food. Saving you time and money in the long run. We’d say that’s a definite result.
- Food Storage – UNL FOOD – University of Nebraska–Lincoln
- How to Prolong Shelf Life and Avoid Food Waste – PHYS.ORG
- The Science of Freezing Foods – University of Minnesota Extension
- Preserve Food And Increase Shelf Life – UF|IFAS University of Florida