Can’t keep your herbs from wilting? Yoghurt spoiling way before you’re ready to eat it? Follow these genius kitchen hacks to make food waste a thing of the past.
Food wastage is a big problem both for your wallet and the environment. But it can also be hard getting the balance right of having enough to eat,but not so much you end up having to throw a lot of it away.
So whether you stocked up on so many groceries during iso you don’t know what to do with it all or you’re just looking for a way to make your groceries stick around for a while — our experts have the best tips for keeping your food fresher for longer.
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1. Don’t wait too long to freeze
“The fresher your food is before it goes in the freezer, the fresher it’ll be when it’s time for it to come out,” tips dietitian Melissa Meier. So if you realise you won’t get through your groceries before they spoil, pop them in the freezer sooner rather than later.
2. Mushrooms prefer paper to plastic
Your mushrooms may come in a plastic tub, but because plastic doesn’t absorb moisture, they will be more vulnerable to mould and rotting. Instead, store your mushrooms in a paper bag to keep them clean and dry.
3. Store yoghurt in muffin tins
Constantly throwing out big tubs of expired yoghurt? Follow nutritionist Rick Hay’s lead and divvy it up into smaller portions. “The muffin tin is your best friend — simply use the moulds to freeze your yoghurt,” he says. When you want a portion, pop one out with a spoon and put it in a container to defrost.
4. Use paper towel in your crisper
“Excess moisture makes your produce go bad much faster,” says Hay. “Lining your salad drawer with paper towel will help absorb the condensation the veggies generate,”
5. Make sure your seals are airtight
To avoid freezer burn, “use airtight containers and make sure your food is wrapped and sealed properly “, tips Meier.
6. Don’t wrap cheese in cling wrap
This stops it from breathing, which can change its flavour and lead to bacteria growth. Instead, use wax paper and then pop it in an unsealed plastic bag.
7. Freeze your cooked grains
Because leftover cooked rice is a food-poisoning risk, if you want to keep your leftovers for longer, freeze your rice and quinoa right after they’ve cooled down, instead of storing them in the fridge.
8. Treat your herbs like flowers
“Buying your herbs in a bag and keeping them in there is a death sentence for them,” warns Hay. “Instead, store them in a glass of water and keep them on the windowsill.”
9. Always wrap celery in foil
Keeping celery in a plastic bag will lead to a build-up of ethylene gas, which speeds up moisture loss and decay. Wrap it in foil instead to allow the gas to escape and slow moisture loss.
10. Blanch your veggies first
To preserve the flavour and structural integrity of veggies like green beans, broccoli, carrots and corn, give them a quick dip in boiling water before sending them to the freezer.
Blanching your produce will help prevent them from oxidising, which stops them from turning brown, and it also keeps them nice and clean.
11. Don’t store full loaves in the freezer
If your bread comes pre-sliced in a plastic bag, you’re good to toss it in as is, but if your roll of crusty sourdough is whole, cut it up before freezing. Frozen bread can be tricky to cut, and you won’t be able to thaw the whole thing and re-freeze if you get stuck!
12. Be strategic with fresh produce
“Be smart about what you buy and when,” says Meier. “For example, if you want to have avocado on toast for breakfast at the end of the week, make sure you buy a hard avocado so that it has time to ripen rather than one that’s already soft and will be off in a day or two.” To keep used avos from spoiling too quickly, brush them with olive oil — it helps slow the oxidation process.
13. Put an apple in with your potatoes
Want to stop your spuds from sprouting (and losing all their nutrients)? Stash an apple in the pantry with them. “Apples produce ethylene gas, which keeps potatoes fresher and firmer so you can enjoy them for longer,” says Hay.
14. Give berries a vinegar rinse
“Berries are fragile little things — they go mouldy faster than any other fruit. But there’s a way to keep them from turning bad too quickly,” tips Hay. Wash them in 3 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar to kill mould spores and bacteria, then dry them thoroughly before popping them in the fridge.
Fridge vs pantry
The final word on where you should store these foods…
If you’ve managed to find a perfectly ripe avocado, whack it in the fridge straight away. Leaving them at room temperature will only speed up the oxidation process, but keeping them refrigerated can prolong their freshness.
Keep tomato sauce in the pantry? It needs to move. “In terms of food safety, most condiments and sauces should be stored in the fridge,” notes Meier.
Unlike honey — which can be left in your cupboard — maple syrup can grow mould once it’s opened, so keep it in the fridge to avoid a nasty surprise.
“Bananas hate the fridge,” says Hay. “They can’t ripen in there and the cold turns their skin brown prematurely, which makes it impossible to tell if they’re ready to eat or not. Keep them on the kitchen counter.”
Nope, you don’t have to keep Vegemite in the fridge. Because of its high-salt, low-water content, bacteria can’t easily set up shop, so it should be right in your pantry up until its expiry date.
Like tomatoes with flavour? Then keep them out of the fridge! According to Hay, refrigerating tomatoes kills their taste and texture, so keep them in the pantry or on the kitchen counter.