Simple Ways to Store Your Food For Longer

Did you know that Australians waste around 7.3 million tonnes of food each year? To get an idea of what this looks like, imagine throwing out a bag of groceries every 5 times you shop! In fact, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment warns that a third of the world’s food never ends up on the plate. This waste then makes up 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And besides being harmful to our planet and our own health, this excessive waste of food costs the Australian economy around $20 billion each year. Luckily, the Australian Government has started working towards the goal of halving the country’s food waste by 2030.

But what about us? How can we reduce our waste in our own homes? Aside from donating excess food to charities, composting, and repurposing, one of the easiest habits is to start storing our food in better ways. By extending the lifespan of store-bought food, we can cut down on the amount of groceries that end up in landfill, while saving money on the weekly shop! And you don’t need to use any chemicals or special gadgets to make food last longer. There are plenty of eco-friendly and zero-waste methods that are easy to do using items you probably already own. Keep scrolling down for some practical ways to store food so they stay fresh for longer – you’ll be glad you did.

Our Top Tips For Storing Your Food For Longer

  1. Leave them alone: Most fruit and many types of vegetables should actually be left out on the counter. Just make sure to consume them within 1-3 days. Popping them in the fridge without proper protective storage methods can destroy not only the flavour but also the texture of such food items. So instead of transferring new groceries straight into the produce compartment in the fridge, leave them on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight. Some produce like cucumber, eggplants, and tomatoes actually prefer warmer temperatures, so avoid storing them in the fridge or use them up as soon as you can.
  1. Wrap them up: Beeswax wraps are a great way to store many kinds of food, either cooked or fresh. While being a more environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic, beeswax wraps work exactly the same in keeping water and air from spoiling the wrapped up food. All you need to do is warm up your hands when moulding the wrap. But if you don’t have some wraps hanging around, airtight plastic bags will keep your snacks fresh for longer too. 
  1. Use produce bags: Keeping produce in cloth produce bags can keep them crisp and fresh for up to a week. It’s a good idea to first remove any stems, cut them into smaller pieces, wash, and dry them before keeping them in a produce bag in the fridge. Cloth produce bags are great for allowing better airflow to keep produce fresh. Just remember to change the produce bags whenever they get damp.
  1. Just chill: Just like fruits and vegetables, meats that are stored correctly will not only taste better, but also be safer to consume. Unless you are buying meats specifically to store in the freezer, make sure to put any unused raw meat away. Always transfer unused meat to a dish then loosely place some cling wrap or foil over it before transferring to a freezer. Try not to let the cover touch the meat to allow for better airflow. Most meats stored in the fridge at 4°C to 5°C will last 2-7 days. In the case of cured meats that come in vacuum-sealed packs (like beef jerky or beef biltong), they can be put directly in the fridge for 4-6 weeks if the seal is unbroken. 
  1. Split them up: Some fruits and vegetables naturally produce a hormone called ethylene. When certain produce is exposed to this hormone, it can ripen and go bad really quickly. Green vegetables suck the water out of root vegetables, so store them separately in the fridge. A good rule of thumb is to separate fruits from vegetables and keep bananas far away. 
  1. Keep them dry: Place paper towels along the bottom of your produce containers in the fridge. They will absorb excess moisture, which will keep many fruits and vegetables from spoiling too quickly. You can also use paper towels to prevent that gross slimy residue from building up in your bags of greens. All you have to do is stick a paper towel into the bag or wrap up the vegetables with them. It’s a great trick to keep leftover salads fresh, too. 
  1. Or keep them wet: Before putting vegetables like carrots and celery in the fridge, submerge them in a glass of water. Tougher greens like kale and swiss chard should have their stems sitting in water and covered loosely with a plastic bag before being stored, too. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how keeping them in water will keep them fresh for longer in the fridge. Just be sure to change the water whenever it gets murky.
  1. Repurpose baking paper: For this hack, you can use either waxed baking paper or parchment paper, depending on what is most convenient for you. After eating a piece of soft cheese, wrap it in a new piece of waxed or parchment paper. This way, you can help the cheese stay fresh for longer, prevent mould from growing, and keep the cheese moist.
  1. Airtight is right: If you tend to buy grains in bulk, make sure to transfer them to an airtight vessel when you get home. And for uncooked rice, throw a few cloves of fresh garlic on top to keep the pesky rice weevils away!

So the next time you go grocery shopping, try to get only what you can use up within the week. This way, you can also plan ahead for the meals you want to have. And with these simple tips on storing food in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy your groceries for longer, while saving money on each shop.