Storing Food: 7 Easy Tricks to Avoid Food Waste

Photo: Pixabay/ CC0

Correctly storing food not only stretches your monthly grocery budget – it also improves the taste and decreases waste. The following tips will help you avoid common mistakes while advising you on optimal food storage practices.

The average American household wastes hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year by throwing out rotten food. In fact, the US department of agriculture estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is subject to food waste. We consumers contribute to this trend. We buy too much; we mindlessly adhere to the often meaningless “Best By” dates; we store our groceries incorrectly, allowing them to spoil more quickly. Correctly storing food not only helps to preserve flavor and nutritional value, it also helps reduce food waste.

Storing Food at Room Temp Is Best

Storing food tomatoes
Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge! Here they lose their natural aroma and go bad even quicker. (Photo: © Utopia / Binford)

Tomatoes lose their flavor in the refrigerator and can even spoil more quickly than other foods stored there. It’s better to keep them in a cool room, like a basement or pantry, at an optimal 60˚F.
Even if you don’t have this storage option in your home, it’s still better to keep your tomatoes at room temperature rather than store them in the fridge. The same goes for other vegetable varieties with high water content, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchinis, and eggplants.

Storing apples and bananas correctly helps make them last longer. (Foto: © labalajadia -

Food Storage 101: Keep Bananas and Apples Apart

As lovely as a mixed fruit bowl looks, (ripe) bananas and apples should never be stored together. Both fruits give off ethylene gas, which speeds the ripening process. In this case, the affect is amplified and your fruit is more likely to go bad before you can eat them.
Ripe bananas give off a disproportionate amount of ethylene gas and should always be kept separately from other fruits and vegetables – and yes, hanging whenever possible to prevent bruising the fruit. Bananas should never be placed in the refrigerator; there they quickly turn brown.

storing food box of plastic
Neither food nor plastic need to go to waste if stored properly. (Foto: © zoeytoja -

Avoid Plastic Waste When Storing Leftovers

When it’s time to wrap up leftovers or cut fruits and vegetables for overnight refrigerator food storage, many people pull out the box of plastic wrap. This is a completely unnecessary waste of plastic! It’s just as easy to put leftovers into the reusable plastic or glass containers we all have lying around. Properly storing food means no waste – neither food nor plastic.

Another added benefit: It’s easier to take leftovers packed this way to work the next day for lunch. You waste less and save money – it’s a real win-win.

citrus fruits
Somehow it’s no surprise: Just like where they’re grown, lemons are no fans of the cold. (Foto: ©

Lemons Hate the Cold

Lemons and other citrus fruits like oranges or mandarins cannot stand the cold, so never store them in your refrigerator. Storing them in the open at (lower) room temperature will keep them fresh the longest.

Even sliced lemons will last a good week without spoiling stored at room temperature. Place the lemon on a small dish cut side down to prevent spoilage.

Reduce (plastic and) food waste: Store mushrooms in paper bags or gently wrapped in a dish towel in the fridge. (Foto: ©

Storing Food: Mushrooms Need Air

Supermarket mushrooms are always packed into plastic containers. Once home, however, they’re much happier stored in paper bags or wrapped in a dish towel in your refrigerator. Mushrooms need to breathe, and their original packaging traps moisture, causing them to spoil sooner.

It’s also important to store mushrooms away from any stinky foods, because they easily absorb nearby odors.

When it comes to mushrooms, it’s best not to overbuy and to use what you’ve purchased as quickly as possible due their short shelf life.

Strong food
Food storage tip: Reuse those empty glas jars from pasta sauces or spreads to store leftover canned foods like chickpeas. (Foto: © HandmadePictures -

Empty Cans Completely

Once you’ve opened a can of something, it’s best to empty the food out of it completely. It’s possible to contaminate your food with aluminum from the can itself. And while most cans today are plastic-lined, many of those linings contain the often-criticized BPA.

Play it safe by emptying the contents of any open can into another container, such as an empty jar salvaged from another product.

Storing Food
Don’t Toss Those Greens (Foto: © airborne77 -

Combat Food Waste: Don’t Toss Those Greens!

We admit it: this tip isn’t exactly on topic. That said, reusing vegetables does prevent food waste all the same. Radish, kohlrabi, beet, carrot, and other greens are all edible and delicious. You can add them to soups or make your own vegetable broth, grind them into pesto, or use them to create fillings for ravioli or lasagna.

Improper food storing practices in your kitchen is an often overlooked contributor to food waste. We’ve all done had a part in it before; The last of last week’s grocery run get pushed out of sight to the back of the fridge only to be discovered a week later well past their genuine best-by date. On the upside, waste of this sort it is also a problem we can all do our part to fix with just a few tweaks to our daily habits, improvements to our kitchen organization and consumer mindset. Store food at home like a pro instead of running back to the store for food.

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This text was translated from German into English. View the original: 9 Lebensmittel, die du immer falsch gelagert hast

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