how to Make your food last longer
and it will taste better too
Get the know-how, the tools, and the tips right here, right now.
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10 tips to make your food work for you
not the other way round !
1: Cook the consumables that will go off, first !
2. Portion control and then re-use leftovers.
3: Have the right equipment to make the most of your food.
4: Don’t throw away edible parts of food.
5: Know how your fridge works.
6: Know how your food likes to be stored.
7: Plan the weekly food and crossover ingredients.
8: Organise, and be able to actually SEE all your food.
9: Think, before you buy.
10. Keep it clean !
Get on top of that kitchen
Turn yourself into a kitchen goddess.
Control the moisture, temperature, acids and gases around your food, to make sure the gases, acids and moisture don’t get to places where you don’t want them.
So you need to know your food, what it likes, and how it reacts to being stored in different conditions.
We know what will help you achieve this along the way and we’ll explain the 10 rules below with some examples. Just click on any picture from here on in to get to a recipe or more information.
Next, it’s about planning and organising. I know that will appeal to some of you more than others. ( We’re naturally messy pups, but having things under control and organised just feels so good ! )
control the Ethylene
Ethylene is a harmless, odorless, and colourless gas that is given off naturally by fruits and vegetables to ripen them faster.
But, we’ve discovered some amazing little products that slow down this ripening process by absorbing the ethylene gas. So in turn this keeps your fruits and veggies fresh for much longer.
They’re selling like hot cakes in this Covid pandemic time, because you don’t waste food, or have to go out shopping as often, so in the end they save you money too !
Controlling the ethylene gas that some fruit emit is key here. Bananas emit a lot, apples too. We’re all about prolonging the life of food in this post, so, if you want your food to ripen faster – simple – just do the opposite of what we say below.
Products that work
A really cute apple shaped food preserver. This product has literally caught everyone’s eye so may not be available all the time. The popular Blu Apple gets 4.6/5 on Amazon reviews last time we looked.
We also love the equivalent green version ( click through and we´ll take you through to the blue or the green one depending on what each country stocks). They all do the same thing… eliminate the Ethylene gas to help prolong the life of your food.
The green one is 100% natural, 100% safe, and has a high rating or 4.7 / 5 on Amazon at time of writing.
With the green fresh pods, there 2 pods and 4 sachets (i.e. 2 refills) and each sachet lasts 6 months ! When finished they can be safely recycled in soil like a fertilizer.
Both are extremely effective products. Click the button to see which one will be available your country ?
How to follow the 10 tips
1. Cook consumables that will go off soonest
Seems an obvious one but if that’s the case, then why do people throw food out. Wanting a particular food is something that often takes precedence. Paul certainly likes to eat what he wants when he wants. I quite admire that too, and it means I get to eat the most amazing dishes. However, I hate to see food wasted, and also love organising and using up. So I wouldn’t be able to do that without feeling guilty. ( Could you guess that I used to adore that cooking show ‘red bag, green bag’ challenge ).
Another culprit is not being able to see all your food easily, so you don’t see when it’s going off… then it’s too late and off to the bin or compost they go !
So what are the alternatives?
Check the status of your food often, organise it you can see what is going to ripen first. Use, cook, eat, or keep in the fridge for eating soon, or freeze in portions for later. It doesn’t have to a meal, you could make jams and sauces from fruit and veg that are on the turn. Oranges and lemons into juice, grate the skins and freeze, turn apples into apple sauce. Don’t throw away the spare chopped herbs on the board – put them into ice cube trays with some olive oil and save for another recipe, another day.
2. Deliberately make more than you need when cooking.
Deliberately make more than you need for one meal, portion control, then reuse or re-cycle the next day. You have to agree that stews are even better the next day ! The experts say to think half a plate for vegetables and / or fruit, quarter for protein, and quarter for carbohydrades like bread or grains. the size of the plate matters too of course !
Instead of eating it all – think portion control and refrigerate or freeze the rest in meal size portions. Use smaller plate sizes, and visually divide the plate up so that your get the most of the healthiest or low calorie parts.
Recycle the unused parts. Use extra cooked chicken or fish in a salad, or make a delicious steak sandwich. Grilled or roasted veggies – I freeze the leftovers early if I know I won’t use them. Anything that contains aubergine or tomatoes in particular, makes a great bread spread instead of butter ( and it makes a sandwich into a meal ! )
3. Have the right tools to maximise what you have, and easily expand your cooking skills and repertoire.
It will make life easier, cooking faster, and make the the most of your food. In the end, they should all save you money one way or the other too. Exciting new recipes will open up to you, and you will start to get creative with your own inventions more easily too.
I use my hand blender to get creative, use small portions, my mandoline (it’s a Bron and you don’t need that – (this one is good too), and microplane also get used a lot to get the shapes and textures I need, and my sous vide machine to get the most flavour and nutrients out of my food. A good non stick frying pan and griddle also get used constantly in our house.
Everyone seems to be in baking cake heaven during this world lockdown time, but I use my baking moulds more to store leftovers in the freezer. Squeeze that last lemon before it goes off, mix leftover chopped herbs from your meal prep with olive oil, then they’re ready to pop into a meal again another day. Once frozen, I empty the moulds into a freezer bag so that I have the mould to re-use again regularly.
Down to flour and water… then a counter top mixer will make you endless breads. I have to admit, our own KitchenAid mixer has even re-surfaced again during this world pandemic. Paul has started on a sourdough journey again.
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Hand blend everything !
And I like blending straight into a jar. This picture is actually Jamie Oliver with my hand blender. I use my Bamix or Braun pretty much every day, to either blend, whisk, purée, mash, chop or emulsify.
With leftovers you can also turn them into a soup, a dip, or a sauce !
Check out the top 15 hand blenders for 2021 (from budget to best value, all in ones, and professional), which cover everything from budget to prosumer models.
Make mincing & zesting easy
This was one of the best wee presents I bought Paul. We both use it all the time for mincing garlic, it gets the whole clove minced, and even finer than a garlic crusher ( and less mess!) .
We zest lemons & limes ( as you can see in the picture), and ginger almost every day too. I don´t even have peel the ginger or garlic any more as the peel stays mostly on the top.
And for parmesan, it makes it so fine, light and fluffy. Looks really professional, and, it uses up much less parmesan than a normal grater. (Much better for the waistline and the pocket too. )
We had this on one of our 5 / 2 diet days. ( I’m not one for calorie counting but I join Paul every now and then). You can go a long way on a diet with eating just veggies, and griddling them makes them super tasty and very appealing to the eye too.
Here´s how we did it. I wouldn´t go as far as to say it´s a recipe 😉 but can see our favourite ‘whatever pan‘ there that will griddle these nicely. Great for steaks and duck breasts too ! Nice and deep, with a lid, and can go in the oven too. Both our pareents and other family have this – it´s a winner.
4. Use as many parts of the fruit or vegetable that you can
no food waste
I think we have all gotten spoiled with choices over the years, and throw away too much decent foodstuff. I hope my dear old friend who threw away some unwanted greens whilst on a zoom call with me this week is reading this. ( You know who you are ! ) I used every part of the broccoli and just chop it up smaller so it cooks at the same time as the florets.
This was so made up with whatever I had in the fridge. And, it was so delicious. Just get creative. Think taste and texture and just use your hand blender to mix it all up.
Here I wanted something creamy, cheesy… click over to get the recipe.
Roasted Cauliflower leaves
Did you know that cauliflower leaves are scrumptious. I can’t get a green cabbage here on the island so it’s my closest replacement. I chop up and use like broccoli stems, or roast the leaves in the oven with a little spicy oil like harissa or sambal olek or mojo.
Red pepper everything
I roast red pepper and garlic any chance I can. They’re so yummy to have as they are but this dish can make them into anything from a useful thin sauce to a delicious healthy yet creamy dip.
5. Know how a fridge works, with respect to temperature variations.
Use those salad drawers properly. From the coldest part in the salad drawer at the bottom to the warmest top shelf, and the variable fridge door. Be careful storing food near the back of the fridge… it’s more likely to freeze there.
Use some help with fridge fresheners, cover food in the fridge so it doesn’t dry up, or keep your bananas in this keep fresh bag. Shelf liners that keep food fresh, also keep the inside of the fridge or drawer neat, and stop things going off or getting soggy.
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Food life extender
This little gem came to our attention a while ago when we saw our readers were buying it. No wonder too, it has amazing reviews. As well as extending the shelf life of your food, it eliminates odors. It’s rechargeable and easy to wash and easy to use.
Our bananas last for weeks in this bag in the fridge.
Covering the stems up or hanging bananas can also extend their life but personally I find this bag the neatest, long lasting solution.
Ethylene gas eliminator
We’ll take you through to the current best ethylene gas eliminator in your country – I love that it’s ‘apple’, or an ‘egg’. They’re really popular and extremely well rated.
The Greentech solution is really neat too. It costs more and isn’t available in as many countries, but it’s rechargeable. Great for taking on holiday too, or giving as a gift !
6. Know how your food, especially consumables, like to be stored.
You can also free up a lot of space in there if you know what food should not be kept in the fridge ( like… bread, cereals, potatoes, onions, citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee, oils, melon, honey, berries, spices, squashes, courgettes, peppers, pineapples ).
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There’s a reason why your garlic and onions are often sold in net / mesh bags. They’re better stored like that. In fact a lot of fruit and veg. is happier in these bags. I now hang those bags after shopping, but they don’t last , as they tear easily.
So this solution is much better. You can get different size bags, they can be washed and re-used, and they’re a much more eco-friendly solution too.
I hadn’t heard of this before and now I want it for everything. Wrap cheese, half a lemon, a crusty loaf of bread, fruits and vegetables. Cover a bowl, or pack a snack for your lunch.
Bee’s Wrap is a really nice ecological solution here. It’s made with cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. And, it’s washable, reusable and compostable wrap.
Much better than single use plastic don’t you think, and brings a smile to your face when opening your snacks or lunch.
For fruit and other groceries that should be hung at room temperature.
Storing them in tiered baskets allows the air to circulate nicely.
We like this style but if you click through you will also see some alternatives.
7. Plan meals that use a crossover of ingredients
This helps cut down the number of ingredients you have to cook. Extra rice becomes a refried rice dish. A tomato salad one day can become a sauce / salsa dip the next.
8. Be able to actually see your food
I use clear jars as much as possible…then you can see the quantity going down and know when to top up again. I have a special jar shelf in the shed to see them all. For me the shed is just a few steps from the kitchen, so it’s like my pantry. I also use smaller jars to store leftovers in the fridge. Better to see it and use it , than have lots of containers you have to keep opening to check the contents. These ones are much prettier, and have lots of uses, especially if they’re going to be on show.
Time to get organised too and use the age old FIFO (first in, first out) system that professional kitchens use. You can assemble these easily and put them in cupboards or on shelves or the worktop. This way you don’t need to keep checking the use by dates on the tins, just feed the new ones in the back and the one you need to use will always be at the front.
Kilner, Ball or Mason
There are so many choices in size, style and quantity. These are freezer, dishwasher and microwave proof. Great for pickling, jams, sauces and just storage of dry goods like beans, tea, herbs and spices.
Personally I like the ones with wide lids so I can get my hand blender in !
You can re-use these, they’re colour coded, come in different sizes and you even get a set of mesh bags included.
A clever one-off set.
My other favourite is the stasher range of really long lasting re-usable bags ( 1000 uses I believe) . Brilliant also for using in sous vide – especially this really big one.
First in, First out
Set up your kitchen cupboard or pantry shelf like a professional kitchen with these FIFO can stackers. You can usually add more.
It’s great to be able to see all the tins you have so nothing gets hidden at the back of a standard shelf. You also get to use the oldest one first, so they should never go out of date before you use them.
9. Think, before you buy
Don’t buy bruised fruit or veg., or ones that are too soft in one area alone. It’s probably bruised inside. Be careful especially with cucumbers, apples etc. Don’t buy potatoes that have started to sprout ( beans sprouting can be ok to eat ). Don’t buy green veg that have started to go yellow.
Plan ahead and if you don’t need to eat the fruit & veggies straight away, then you don’t need to buy the ripest either. You can afford to let them ripen at home, and they may be cheaper too.
10. Keep your fridge clean
If your fridge is clean, your food won’t get damaged or contaminated easily with spoilage or mold from other food. It also keeps any unwanted smells away too.
Fridge & Drawer liners
As well as saving you from cleaning spoilage off the shelf itself, these will prevent mildew and also help extend the shelf life of your food.
A – Z of food storage tips
A work in progress, and we’re testing them out. We’ll keep updating this page so do refresh the page if you have visited more than once. If we don’t post this page now, we’ll never be done writing, and we want to get the information to you now !
If you have tried these too, or have any other tips, please use the comments box at the bottom to let us know. OR email us on [email protected]
Asparagus – trim the ends like flowers in a vase and pop then in a jar with a little water ! Loosely wrap a plastic bag over the top and pop in the fridge. Again this one is a new one on me ( ref: housebeautiful.com) . If we are lucky enough to get asparagus, we tend to use it pretty quickly whilst it’s fresh !
Avocados – once cut, put lemon or lime on it to stop it going brown ( It’s the absorbic acid that does it… same rule applies to stop cut apples from browning) Keep them out of the fridge to ripen but once they are ripe, store in the salad drawer to extend the life. Once they are at the point to use, but you aren’t ready yet, it’s safer to store them somewhere you will see them ! So I store on the top shelf of the fridge where it’s a bit warmer but I out it in a plastic bag, loosely. Don’t seal the bag. Leave it open a little to get air in . I extended half an avocado life by 2 more weeks doing this – 1 week in the bottom salad drawer, 1 week in a bag on the top shelf. If you think you aren’t going to use them up in time, then cut them up and store in the freezer till you need them, then if you get a surprise guest, get them out a make a great guacamole or something ! Use a hand blender, add cocoa powder and vanilla extract and avo a healthy ice cream !
By the way, leaving the stone in may keep it fresh but it doesn’t seem to stop it from going brown ! I do it all the time.
Bananas – keep separate from other fruit as it makes them all ripen too fast. Usually you should keep them out of the fridge but someone gifted us a ‘banana bag’ . Yup it’s a thing ! You store the bananas in this special wee bag in the fridge and they can last for weeks. We love it. If you’re storing them outside the fridge, hanging them helps prolong the life, or you can wrap the stem in tin foil or cling film to extend the life longer.
Broccoli, white & red cabbages, cauliflower and celery – chop off the ends, celery flowers and any bad bits and wrap in 3 weeks so far for me.
Bread – remember granny wrapping it in a tea towel – well that makes it last longer . Even better to store the wrapped bread then in a loose plastic bag. Or combine both tips by using this cool bees wrap.
Butter – It doesn’t need to go in the fridge. Keep it in a covered butter dish – the temperature stays a lot more stable inside.
Cheese – In the fridge, use the bees wrap, or a waxed paper or a porous paper like baking ( parchment) paper if possible to store opened cheese. Hard cheese storage out of the fridge, use a wire cheese box if you can and store in a cool place.
Cucumber, courgettes & lettuce – Cucumbers all come in a plastic wrap – a friend once brought us fruit and veg from their grannies farm and the cucumber was already in the plastic wrap! Hilarious –they obviously supply the local supermarkets or export or something. It keeps the moisture away , and protects it a little from bruising when handled because these babies bruise easily ! So that’s your clue, don’t put them in the fridge – yet. I’ve done that and you just get these big wet patches developing on them and ruin the texture. They go downhill quickly after that. So. Once you have started to use the cucumber or courgette, then you’ll have washed the outside. Make sure its dry, then wrap in a towel or paper towel and put that in a loose ( not sealed) plastic bag and store at the top of the fridge. You don’t want it to get toooo cold, so also be careful about where you place it . I place at the front so that there is no risk of it getting pushed to the back and freezing.
This is may favourite find. I’ve been able to make lettuce last a lot longer. I wash the lettuce in a bag, spin it dry, and store it like this and it’s amazing ! My cucumber, even better… I still have it looking fabulous at least 2 weeks later !
Eggs – keep them out of the fridge.
Cheese – In the fridge, use a waxed paper or a porous paper like paking ( parchment) paper if possible to store opened cheese. Hard cheese storage out of the fridge, use a wire cheese box if you can and store in a cool place.
Flour and powdered goods – keep them in a tightly sealed ( preferably dark) container. I use jars a lot. Over time mites love living in your flour (yeuch!) so keep it airtight.
Ginger – Best not to store it in the fridge ( goes off fast) , and not in a sealed jar ( goes mouldy) . So store it on the counter where you see it and use it . If you don’t use very much, very often, divide it up and store some in the freezer. It makes it even easier to peel too, and don’t forget … the best way to peel is to use a tea-spoon, and the best way to grate is to use a micro-grater.
Herbs – usually they shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. If you do, then treat them like flowers ! Tall and in a jar with a little water and at the top of the fridge. If you aren’t going to use them all then cut them up and store In an ice cube tray with olive oil. Hey you can do the same with extra chopped up garlic too ! Just take it out and melt when you need it …for cooking or in a salad dressing or sauce.
For more woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, just roll them loosely in a paper towel and pop them in a bag. Put them at the top of the fridge or in the door, where you ca seem to reuse. I put my dressings etc there so it works for me.
Lemons – I’m still testing this. I assumed they’re better in the net bags they come in sometimes, but it’s not good for them to be touching – especially if one is riper than the rest. It will go mouldy more easily. Apparently storing in a plastic bag ( and NOT in the fridge ) is best too, so I will give this a go.
Onions, shallots, garlic – they come in nets for a reason ! Store or rather hang them in a cool darkish if possible place. Once cut they can go in the fridge, but put them in a container as the gases are not god for the fridge door seals – erodes them apparently.
Strawberries – Housebeautiful.com say to wash them in a vinegar solution ( 1 part distilled vinegar to 10 parts water) before storing and they can last up to 2 weeks longer. I haven’t tried this myself yet but will do when strawberry season comes along When you buy them, make sure you don’t have any mouldy ones in the punnet – check again when you get home and hook those out and throw them away immediately.
Tomatoes – keep out of the fridge and store this fruit in a fruit bowl – even with other fruit to ripen it faster. It loses its taste if it’s kept cold in a fridge, so it likes to be at a warm room temperature to be super tasty.
Peppers – don’t need to be in the fridge.
Potatoes – keep them in a cool dark place if possible. Apples is another ethylene gas emitter but apparently you need to store them ( or at least one) with potatoes. Apparently, it stops the potatoes from going off . Then there are to schools of thought on this – some say they make things go off faster, but when it comes to potatoes apparently not ! Sprouting – is ok for some foods like beans, but not for veggies.
I’m on the fence with this at the moment as a few weeks in, I’m seeing some sprout a little but I’ve no idea how old the potatoes were to begin with.
So I store an apple with my potatoes… but how will I know if it works. I’m Irish, so potatoes get eaten up quickly in this house !
Final note: click on the picture…
See if you get green or blue products when you click through to Amazon !
Just before I make this post public, I’m going to start this day with a feel-good deed, and click on the picture to buy green one for my parents . With fresh pods, there 2 pods and 4 sachets (i.e. 2 refills) and each sachet lasts 6 months ! When finished they can be safely recycled in soil like a fertilizer. Happy day everyone.
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