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Storing Fresh Foods

Waste Less With These 8 Tips for Storing Fresh Foods

By Steve Edwards

I asked the waiter 'Is this milk fresh?'
He said, 'Lady, three hours ago it was grass.'

Phyllis Diller

Fruit VeggiesIf you glance at news headlines, you've probably read "Americans don't eat enough fruits and veggies" and how we should eat more fresh foods. There's no better time to improve on this than during the summer, when we have enough choices for even the pickiest of us to find something we like. One of the main problems with fresh foods is their life span. You need to buy only what you can eat right away, which doesn't always fit into our hectic lifestyles. And while fruits and veggies are not expensive, they quickly become so if you waste half of what you buy. Here are eight tips to help you stretch every penny while improving your health.

  1. Grocery StorePlan ahead. Try and make a trip to the market every five days. Most fruits and veggies will stay fresh and edible at least this long. If you're on a schedule, you'll know you've got to eat all you've purchased prior to the next trip, which is a pretty helpful tool for staying on a healthy diet. If you're a once-a-week shopper, read on. We'll provide some tips for squeezing a few more days out of your perishables.

  2. SunriseTime your shopping. By shopping early or late in the day, when temperatures are cooler, you can expand the life span of fresh foods. This is particularly useful if you use your local farmers' market—which you should, because these foods tend to be fresher, cheaper, and of better quality. Getting to the market early gives you the pick of the litter and expands the time the foods will stay fresh.

  3. CoolersCoolers aren't just for beer. If your schedule demands midday shopping, you can minimize its effects by keeping a cooler in your car. Keep an ice pack in your freezer and remember to grab it before you head to the market and toss it in the cooler. Sure, this makes it hard to hit the store on a whim but it will force you to plan better, which has no downside. If you need another reminder, shop with reusable bags. If you have two things to remember, you'll lessen your odds of forgetting. Plus, some markets reward you for using them.

  4. FridgeAll parts of the fridge are not created equal. Unfortunately, all those cool compartments in the doors are not the most efficient way to store most things. It's colder in the deep recesses, so store the most sensitive items in the back. This is especially true for eggs because the "special" egg slots are almost always in the door. Don't use them. Store your eggs in their original carton in the deepest corner of the fridge. (Click here to read more about eggs.) Separate your foods in the fridge, too. Fruits and veggies should not touch one another. In fact, it's best if nothing is touching each other. But fruits and veggies should be stored in different drawers because fruits emit ethylene, which causes veggies to rot quicker.

  5. SinkPrep your food. Some foods do better if you prepare them, others not, but taking a few minutes when you get home to organize your groceries will help you get the most for your money. Think of it as a coupon you don't have to remember to bring to the store.

    LettuceMost plants are better left in the state you bought them until ready to use, but there are some exceptions. Salad greens, for one, should be prepped prior to storage. Wash thempreferably in salt waterand then spin them dry in a salad spinner. Then separate the leaves with paper towels and store in zip-lock bags. This can keep your greens fresh for up to a week.

    HerbsHerbs, as well, benefit from some prep work. For leafy herbs, unbind them and separate and toss anything soft or discolored. Then place them in a glass jar, stems down in water, as if you were arranging flowers. Then cover loosely with a plastic bag.

    Cut FruitBuy cut fruits and vegetables only when ready for use. Cutting produce too far in advance exposes it to air-accelerating bacterial growth.

  6. Lime SplashTo wash or not to wash? Contrary to what your market does for aesthetics, don't wash most fruits and veggies prior to storage. And if they are wet from the market, dry them off and then store them in your crisper drawer between layers of paper towels. This will keep them fresh for up to 10 days. If you leave them wet, they'll mildew in less than half that time.

  7. TomatoWhat to leave out of the fridge. Some items do better at room temperature. Potatoes are one. Tomatoes are another, though this is debated. What isn't debated is that you should store them stem down no matter where you put them. Most fruits should be taken out of the fridge a day or two prior to eating them, since they are generally sold just short of ripe and they ripen more quickly at room temperature.

  8. Milk BottlesContainment. Science is your friend when it comes to maximizing the life of fresh foods. Here are a few examples. Glass stores dairy better than the cartons they come in. Transferring your milk to glass containers will both improve its taste and double its life span. The same goes for cheese. And we've vastly improved upon the traditional Tupperware and Saran Wrap storing methods. New storage bags and plastic containers extend life by allowing produce to breathe. Some are even designed to absorb ethylene gases. There are also other devices that you can place in the fridge to absorb ethylene. Taking a few minutes at the market to study the latest technology can make it easier than ever to maximize your food's potential.

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I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...


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