This is a guest post by Rebecca Goodwin from My Green Australia and is the first instalment in a series of posts on how to reduce food waste in the home.
The food budget in most households can be a hotly contended debate; should you spend more money on organic fruit and vegetables, do you buy brand labelled food or generic labels or should you buy canned vegetables versus fresh vegetables?
Many decisions at the store can be driven by price, but when you have purchased your food, do you really know how to store it to reduce your waste budget. As we all know, food that is thrown out and discarded is a financial loss.
Knowing how to store your food correctly will help you save money and reduce your food waste, we also have some great tips for going plastic free!
- Asparagus. Store in an airtight bag in your refrigerator crisper. If you are going plastic free, store them upright in open jar with an inch of water at room temperature and they will keep for a week outside of the fridge.
- Avocado. To ripen, leave on the bench at room temperature in a paper bag. To stop an avocado ripening, store in refrigerator. When cut open, leave the seed in and brush the exposed surface with lemon juice to stop the flesh from turning brown and store in plastic wrap or a closed container.
- Beans. Store in an airtight bag in the crisper compartment of your fridge. If going plastic free, store in an open container with a damp cloth across the top. They like humidity but not wetness.
- Broccoli. Store in an airtight bag in your crisper and remember to eat as soon as you can. Plastic free option is to wrap in a damp cloth and store in the fridge.
- Capsicum. Store in an airtight bag in your fridge, make sure you have selected ones with no spots or shrivelled skin.
- Carrots. Store carrots in an airtight bag in your crisper. Remove any green tops before storing – this can be put in a compost bin or worm farm. Plastic free option is to place them in a closed container with plenty of moisture, such as wrapped in a damp cloth or store in a small amount of water, then place in the fridge. Change the water frequently if storing for a long time.
- Cauliflower. Store the clean head of cauliflower in an airtight bag in the crisper. Plastic free option is to store in a closed container in the fridge and eat as soon as possible for best flavour.
- Celery. Store unwashed celery in an airtight bag in the crisper. The removed tops and base can be used in soups, stock or given to a worm farm or compost. Plastic free option is to place the celery in an bowl of shallow water on the bench and left at room temperature.
- Cucumbers. Place cucumbers in your fridge crisper and use as soon as you can, another options is to wrap in a damp cloth. Again, they are best eaten as soon as possible.
- Lettuce. Store lettuce in a lettuce spinner or in an airtight bag. Use as soon as you can. Plastic free option is to use a glass container storage option.
- Mushrooms. Avoid buying any withered looking mushrooms as this is a sign of deterioration. Don’t store mushrooms in plastic, store in a paper bag in your crisper.
- Onions. Store onions in a cool dark place and avoid storing with potatoes as they can spoil each other. Onions like air circulations, so make sure they are on an open tray and avoid stacking them.
- Potatoes. Remove your potatoes from any plastic bag that they are in and store in a dark, cool place such as a paper bag or cardboard box. Avoid storing with onions, and if your potatoes have gone green or soft, compost them or place them in a worm farm.
- Pumpkins. Cut pumpkin can be stored in plastic wrap in your crisper and a whole pumpkin can be left at room temperature on the bench.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are to be stored at room temperature on a bench and avoid placing in direct sunlight. No need to refrigerate.
- Apples. Best stored at room temperature, or slightly cooler on a bench or shelf. For longer storage, they can be store in a cardboard box in the fridge but taste best at room temperature.
- Bananas. Store at room temperature out in the open (not stored in a cupboard). Bananas stored in the fridge will result in blackened skin but the fruit should be okay for eating.
- Berries. Store covered in the fridge and they are best used as soon as possible. If you are not going to use as soon as you can, then freeze them for later. Plastic free option is in a paper bag and lay them in one layer and not in a pile as they are delicate.
- Grapes. Remove any damaged or rotten grapes before storing in an airtight container. You can either remove them from the vine or leave as is.
- Kiwi Fruit. Kiwi fruit can be stored in the fridge but is best stored at room temperature.
- Lemons. Can be stored both in the fridge or at room temperature. The juice can also be squeezed and stored in the freezer.
- Limes. Similar to lemons, limes can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Remember to keep them out of direct sunlight and the juice can also be squeezed and stored in the freezer.
- Mandarins. Mandarins can be stored in room temperature or in the fridge.
- Melons (Rockmelons and Watermelon). Melons can be stored whole in room temperature and cut melons stored in the fridge in a covered container.
- Pears. Pears can be kept at room temperature. Ripe pears should be consumed as soon as possible as they may spoil quickly.
- Strawberries. Strawberries can be stored in a punnet in the fridge. Make sure they are dry and there are no mouldy strawberries in the container. Plastic free option is to store moisture free strawberries in a paper bag in the fridge. If the bag gets wet, replace with a new bag.
Rebecca is the editor of My Green Australia, an online resource on living greener and kinder in Australia. She is an avid fan of Australia and Australians who are working to make the country a better place to live for everyone and everything!