Live Green and Earn Points



Greenly: Pack Smarter

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I’m not talking about your next trip here. This week, I’m talking about how to pack your fridge to keep foods fresher longer.

Since I (willingly) ate through all the produce in my fridge before I left for vacation, I returned home to a bare, empty icebox. As I slowly begin to restock with trips to the green market, I thought it was the perfect time to review the basics of food storage. With a little research, I came across these tips to keep foods fresher longer — meaning there’s less food waste. Have more ideas? Then share them with us below. Happy packing, everyone!

Fruits & Vegetables
Did you know certain fruits and veggies give off gases that can cause others to deteriorate? That said, keep fruits and vegetables separately and store like with like (this mean apples with apples). For a more detailed look at vegetables storage advice, check out this post. Also, avoid washing produce before refrigerating it. Dampness can make it mold and rot more quickly. If you wash certain items before storing, like herbs, be sure they are dried well and stored properly to ensure longevity.

It’s best to keep dairy products like milk, yogurt and sour cream in the containers they came in. When it comes to hard cheese, again, it’s best to store it in the original wrapping until after you use them. Post-enjoyment bliss, wrap them in wax paper and/or loose plastic.

Fish, Meat, and Poultry
Keep fresh meats and fish in the original wrapping. Re-wrapping or placing it an alternative dish doesn’t help extend shelf life, but instead increases the risk of exposing the food to bacteria. Yikes!

Store all leftovers in airtight, leak-proof containers. Moisture released from foods can make the refrigerator work harder to keep cool, wasting energy.

What other food storage tips do you have to share? I’m looking for more helpful advice!

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About the Author
Natalie Ghio
Natalie Ghio

Besides composting, I love traveling, yoga, exploring new flavors, supporting local farms, and cooking for friends at my home in Brooklyn.

  • Shalee R. 2 years ago
    I use the paper towel trick to make things last longer
  • Angela S. 3 years ago
    I figured out how to buy lettuce in bulk and make it last up to 3 weeks - that's my longest record so far. I wash the lettuce and pull the leaves off the base. Then I tear it into salad size pieces and place them on a paper towels (usually 3 of the select a size towels). Once I've filled the paper towels with a layer of salad, I then roll the lettuce up to absorb the moisture into the paper towels.
    When I've finished washing and tearing up all my lettuce, I get a gallon size plastic bag (sounds counter-intuitive to recycling but you can reuse the bag until it wears out or you rip it in your forays for lettuce). I then place a section of the paper towel I used to dry the lettuce which is now moist into the bottom of the bag, layer the lettuces I tore up on top - I usually do Romaine, Green and Red lettuce together, layer another piece of the paper towel and more lettuce until the bag is full. Seal the bag squeezing out most of the extra air. The gas released off the lettuce is absorbed into the paper towels and the lettuce will last for 2 - 3 weeks (you'll see red marks from the gas on your towels instead of the lettuce leaves and stems). When you finish with a bag, you can rinse it out with hot water, let it dry and save it for the next round of lettuce. The paper towels that don't get used in the bags are then used to clean the kitchen counters and floors that night so I get double use out of them.
    • Donna C. 1 year ago
      That really works! I used to use paper towels too, but got a salad spinner for Christmas. Now I only need to use one paper towel in the bag.
  • barbara P. 3 years ago
    I always knew about trying to purchase fruits and vegetables as dry as possible
  • Lisa D. 3 years ago
    When I bring my radishes home I separate them and cut off all the green leaves so they don't get all slimy.I store them in a paper towel so they last longer.Also they are all cleaned up for a quick snack.I have learned over the years that plastic is the killer of fresh veggies.
  • Lisa D. 3 years ago
    As soon as I get a head of lettuce home, I take it out of the plastic wrapping so it doesn't get slimy and spoil. I rip it in half and wash it and put it in my salad spinner and get all the excess water off and out of it, and keep it stored in my spinner.. It lasts a really long time, and it stays crispy and yummy///When I get my green onions home I take the rubber bands off of them, and take that first layer off, and store them in a paper towel loose. it keeps them from drying out on top and getting slimy where the rubber band was//With cilantro, I take off the twist tie rinse it, get all the excess water off and store in a mug of water on the top of my fridge.Make sure the leaves do not get into the water.
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