Spoiler Alert: How to Store Foods So They Last Longer
1. Salad Greens
The most wasted food group is fresh produce. (Dairy is No. 2; meat, poultry, and fish tie for No. 3). To extend the life of the topmost perishable produce, keep your fridge set between 35° and 37°, and follow these tips.
First up: For salad greens, moisture is the enemy. Open the clamshell, place a paper towel over greens, and return lid. Refrigerate, lid-side down.
2. Leafy Herbs
Stand the herb bunch in a glass partially filled with water. If small enough to fit, place in a large zip-top plastic bag, and close partway, allowing air to circulate. If the herb bouquet is larger, invert the bag over the glass and close partway.
If space allows, spread berries in a single layer on a towel-lined tray. If not, keep in original packaging with paper towels between layers.
Keep milk cold. The more time milk spends between 40° and 120°, the faster it spoils. That means, if you leave the carton on the counter while you sip your morning coffee or while the kids eat their cereal, you’re taking days of the life of your milk.
If there’s a chance you’re not going to use the seafood within 48 hours, buy frozen instead of fresh. Because it’s been flash frozen at the source, the quality is preserved and you don’t have to race the clock.
6. Poultry and Meats
Keep poultry and meats in the original packaging they came in at the store, and place on the bottom shelf of the fridge—this is the coldest spot. If you can’t use them within three days (or by the sell-by date), place in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze.
7. Whole Grains, Whole-Grain Flours, and Nuts
Because of oil content, these foods can go rancid relatively quickly (within 1 to 3 months) when stored at room temperature. For longer storage, place in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the fridge or freezer. They’ll stay fresh 6 months to a year this way.
First, be realistic, and don’t buy too much: Unless you’re having a big party, it’s hard to get through a big wheel of cheese before it goes bad. Next, know that cheese lasts much longer when stored properly in the fridge. Avoid wrapping it in plastic wrap; instead, wrap in cheese paper (such as Formaticum), or wrap in wax paper and then loosely wrap in plastic wrap.
According to the USDA, the typical American trashes 23% of eggs. What a waste! Extend their life by keeping them in the carton and avoiding the egg compartment in the refrigerator door—that’s the warmest part of the fridge. Instead, place them on a lower shelf. And don’t automatically throw them out on the sell-by date; that’s not the same as a “use-by” date. Test an egg for freshness by placing in a glass of water: Good eggs sink; bad eggs float.
Though many folks store bread in the fridge, doing so actually makes bread become stale even faster. Instead, store at room temperature in an airtight container, or freeze it for longer life.