Storage Tips to Reduce Food Waste


Woman with tablet PC looking into refrigerator

If there was ever a time to commit to reducing food waste, it’s now.

People across the country are scrambling to stock their fridges and freezers in an attempt to reduce the number of trips to the grocery store during this season of social distancing.

Of course, all of this is a moot point if all the produce, dairy and meat is spoiling due to lack of proper storage or recipes.

We’re here to help.

Read on to learn what foods to eat first, how to stock your fridge and how to reduce food waste.

Eat These Foods First

It’s important to know the timeline of the food in your fridge.

Cabbage, for instance, can hang out on your fridge shelf for up to a month. On the other hand, raspberries, for example, are only good for a few days in the fridge.

Plan your meals and snacks around foods that have a shorter shelf life.

The following foods should be eaten within 1 week of purchase:

  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes

This next group of foods should be eaten within 1-2 weeks of purchase:

  • Lettuces
  • Leafy greens
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Pears
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Celery

Next are foods that should be eaten within 2-3 weeks of purchase:

  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits

Finally, these foods can stand the test of time and should be eaten within 4 weeks:

  • Cabbage
  • Turnips
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash

For items not on this list, consult the Food Keeper app, developed by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Stock it Right

Food will retain its optimum quality if stored correctly, and the first step to keeping food fresh is to check the temperature setting on your fridge.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, fridge temperature should be 40 degrees or below and freezer temperature should be zero degrees. Purchase appliance thermometers for the fridge and freezer to monitor the temperature.

When thinking about your fridge, consider putting items that need to stay coldest in the bottom part of the fridge such as fresh meat or fish.

Items such as milk should be stored on a fridge shelf and not in the door, as that’s the warmest spot in the fridge. Save the fridge door for condiments.

Certain fruits and vegetables keep better on the counter than in the fridge such as apples, bananas, melons and avocados. Store these items in a cool, dry place in your kitchen.

Likewise, refrigeration can affect the flavor and texture of some types of produce. Tomatoes, bananas, peaches, potatoes, pears and onions should all be stored outside the fridge.

Reduce Food Waste

Many people are buying in bulk right now, and it’s easy to forget what you purchased or use it before it expires.

It might helpful to look in your fridge once per week to see what items should be tossed, what items should be eaten and if anything can be frozen to be enjoyed later.

Have a bunch of random ingredients you need to use but not sure where to start? Download the SuperCook app, which builds a meal based on the items you have in your fridge or pantry.

What other tips do you have for keeping food fresh?