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Keep it fresh: Stretch your food dollars with these storage tips

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Learn how to keep food from going bad by making the most of your freezer and understanding where in your fridge and cupboard food will last the longest.

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Have you ever opened a bag of moldy bread? Or found something funky at the back of your fridge? Avoid another stinky surprise and stretch your food dollars by following these storage best practices.

Fridge, freezer, cupboard and counter showing where to store different foods.

A) The freezer is your friend

Tired of leftovers? Freeze them for lunch next week. Bread going bad before the loaf’s end? Store it in the freezer, and pop frozen slices right in the toaster. You can even freeze butter to keep it fresh for up to 9 months.

Consider buying frozen instead of fresh: Frozen vegetables are nutritious, easy to cook with, and they don’t mind if you forget about them for a bit (fresh broccoli lasts a week, frozen lasts a year). Plus, a full freezer uses less energy than an
empty one.

B) Know your fridge

Crisper drawers keep carrots crunchy and celery snappy; they’re the best place for fruits and vegetables. Use the high-humidity drawer for produce that wilts and the low-humidity for fruit and veggies that get moldy. The door is the warmest spot in the fridge, so use it for condiments but not milk or other perishable items.

C) Cool cupboards

Heat, light and humidity are the enemy of preserving flavor and freshness in herbs and spices, dried beans and grains and cooking oils. Store these items in a cool, dry, dark cupboard or drawer. The same goes for potatoes, onions and garlic.

D) Countertop tips

Leave tomatoes and avocados on the counter to ripen, then move to the fridge to keep them from going bad.

Top storage tools to try

Painter’s tape & permanent marker: Label and date like a pro. (It’s how restaurants keep track.)

Air-tight containers: Clear, air-tight jars, containers and bags keep food fresh and easy to see.

Phone camera: Snap a shelfie of your fridge, freezer, cupboard or spice drawer before heading to the store, so you don’t double-buy.

Lists: Keep lists on the fridge to make notes as you run out of things. An “Eat Me Soon” list is also helpful to avoid forgotten fruit and hidden leftovers.

Find more food saving tips

Find more storage tips that are good for your wallet and good for the planet at Eat Smart Waste Less. And while you're there, check out their tips for food shopping and cooking. (The site is also available in Spanish: www.eatsmartwasteless.com/acepteelreto)

This article appeared in the Winter 2020 Curbsider publication.