Extend the shelf life of fresh produce and unprocessed foods with strategies that keep your good-for-you groceries from spoiling
The perks of healthy, unprocessed foods are too numerous to even list. But there are two main downsides: First, they’re often a little pricey. Second, they’re quick to go bad. That can be quite the one-two punch—if you spend the extra money on a fancy juice or organic avocado, it’s especially painful to toss it before you have a chance to enjoy. Even more so when you consider that recent research found that Americans waste up to 41 percent of its food supply. To give your trash can and your wallet a break, we dug up the easiest, most effective ways to make your healthy foods last longer. (Plus, we have 6 Ways to Help You Save Money on Groceries.)
1. Freeze Your Green Juices
We recently met with cold-pressed juice company Evolution Fresh, and they offered up a great tip we can’t believe we didn’t think of ourselves: If your juice’s expiration date is bearing down on you, simply pop the bottle into the freezer to buy yourself some time. Warning: Liquids expand when they freeze, so either crack open the bottle and take a swig to give the juice a little growing room, or make peace with cleaning up a little seepage. (And try these 14 Unexpected Smoothie and Green Juice Ingredients.)
2. Keep Wheat Flour in the Fridge
The wheat germ in wheat flour contains high levels of oil, which can go rancid if left at room temp. Instead, stash your flour in an airtight container in your refrigerator. An easy way to tell if it’s turned: Give it a sniff. It should smell like nothing; if you detect something bitter, toss it.
3. Hold Off on Washing Berries
Moisture encourages berries to spoil, so wait to rinse them off until just before you’re ready to chow down. Also smart: checking the berry container periodically and picking out any spoiled fruit. They’ll bring the rest of the pint down with them faster.
4. Stash Herbs in This Gadget
The Herb Savor ($30; prepara.com) stores your herb stems in water, which helps keep the flavorful greens fresh for up to three weeks. Bonus: It can also be used for asparagus.
5. Paint an Avocado with Lemon Juice
Cut avocados contain an enzyme that oxidizes when exposed to air, causing it to turn brown. To halt the process, cover the cut flesh with a thin layer of lemon juice, then a sheet of plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge. You can use the same trick to keep guacamole fresh too. (Then use it for one of these 10 Savory Avocado Recipes That Aren’t Guacamole.)
6. Store a Paper Towel with Lettuce
The disposable cloth will absorb any moisture that forms while your greens are chilling in the fridge, keeping the leaves from wilting. The result: Your Friday salad will taste as crisp and fresh as Monday's. (See more Easy Salad Upgrades for Your Best Bowl Ever.)
7. Tuck Root Veggies in Cloth Bags
Heat and light encourage root vegetables like onions or potatoes to sprout. Cloth or paper sacks are breathable, so the insides will stay cool, and they roll up easily to keep light out. Use your own, or buy the stylish and functional Okra by Mastrad Vegetable Keep Sacks (from $9; reuseit.com).
8. Pour Dry Grains into Mason Jars
Grains and dry beans have a low moisture content, so their main concern isn’t necessarily going bad—it’s getting infested with bugs, rodents, and other creepy-crawlies. The screw-top lids of Mason jars will keep critters out, so there won’t be any surprises when you open your quinoa or black beans.