Tips for Keeping Your Groceries Fresh All Week
By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach
As easy and convenient as shelf stable pantry items and frozen dinners are, it's also important to have fresh groceries in your house. Fresh produce contains the majority of nutrients that we need to be healthy, but they can take another level of attention that their pre-packaged counterparts don't need. Below are some tips to help you store your groceries properly and keep them fresher for longer.
If you want your groceries to last as long as possible in your fridge:
Make sure you're buying them fresh in the first place. Try to find out when your store re-stocks their produce and shop just after that time, or make it a point to shop weekly at your local farmer’s market.
Pay attention to the "best before" dates at the grocery store.
Make sure the fruits and vegetables are not overly ripe when you purchase them unless you want to use them right away.
Avoid green veggies that are already starting to wilt, buy slightly greener bananas, and watch out for wrinkly bell peppers.
Certain fruits and vegetables go bad quickly when they absorb moisture that collects in the fridge. Line your veggie drawer with a few paper towels to absorb any excess moisture and keep your food from spoiling. Leafy greens, berries, and other fruits and vegetables with high water content are especially sensitive to moisture. Make sure you don't pre-wash these foods even though it might cut down on meal prep time, it will shorten their life span. Mushrooms are usually purchased in a sealed container, but moisture can collect and make them slimy and brown. Store them in a paper bag or put them in a container lined with paper towels instead.
Keep apples and bananas away from other fruits and veggies. These fruits release ethylene gas, which is a compound that makes other ethylene-sensitive produce ripen more quickly. So, although your fruit bowls look put together, they're not keeping your fruits fresh. If you're storing apples in the fridge, put them in a sealed plastic bag. Avocados, tomatoes, and pears also produce higher levels of ethylene gas and should be stored separately. Tomatoes also should not be stored in the fridge, unless of course they have been added to a dish that needs refrigeration.
Keep your bananas together in a bunch as separating them will make them ripen much faster. It helps to wrap the stem in plastic wrap to keep them from accidentally separating. Sometimes bananas come in a plastic bag from the grocery store. If this is the case, throw it away when you get home. Bananas need good air circulation to last long. If your bananas become overly ripe, peel them and store them in the freezer. Those make a great base for a smoothie!
Put your fresh herbs in a jar of water outside of the fridge, like a bouquet. Green onion also lasts much longer this way and will even grow new tops! This will expand the lifespan of your herbs by weeks.
Store potatoes and onions in a cool and dark place, such as the basement or cellar, but don't put them together. Onions also release ethylene gas that will make your potatoes rot quickly. Onions and potatoes can last for weeks in a cool and dark room, but they don't do very well in cold refrigerators or warm temperatures. Onions are also known to absorb toxins as well as smells from your fridge if cut and not stored properly. Always store the other half of that onion you didn’t use up in an airtight storage container in the fridge and use it within a couple of days of cutting it. If you aren’t going to use it right away, dice it up and freeze it.
One of my other favorite ways to help produce last longer is to place each type of veggie or fruit in one of those Debbie Meyers Green Bags that help contain the gas release from certain produce, and help others to not absorb the released gasses from those veggies. They’re also BPA free which is an added bonus! You can find them here: https://www.debbiemeyergreenbags.com/ or locally at Wegmans.
Eating fresh produce is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body because you need all of the vitamins and minerals contained in them for proper health function. While I have outlined ways to keep your produce fresh for longer, please remember that it is BEST to eat produce sooner rather than later because the fruits and veggies will contain more nutrients. So go visit those farmers markets and sign up for a veggie delivery service and enjoy those healthy foods that are finally in season! My personal favorite in produce subscriptions is Misfits Market because it is organic produce that is either in too much abundance for stores to use all the yield, or it isn’t as pretty as they would like it sitting on their shelves, and all would otherwise end up in the landfill. Great savings, delicious, and nutritious – you can’t go wrong! You can save $10 on your first Misfits box by following this link: https://www.misfitsmarket.com/?promo=COOKWME-EY8CWI and signing up. You pick your delivery day, frequency of delivery, and build your box – it arrives fresh at your door on your designated delivery day! You are under no obligation to continue purchasing the box if you decide it isn’t for you! If you are local to Central New York and want more locally sourced produce as well as a choice of what is in your box, I recommend Off the Muck Market. You can visit their website here: https://www.offthemuck.com/ and email me at email@example.com if you want to save money on your first order. Happy fruit and veggie eating!