With many of us now following shelter-in-place orders or doing our best to contribute to social distancing, you may be trying to take fewer trips to the grocery store. This means making your perishables last longer, which can be challenging when prioritizing nutrition and the desire to continue eating fresh foods. Today we wanted to share some tips on how you can continue to make the food in your fridge last longer while maintaining a well-balanced diet full of nutrient-dense whole foods.
Today’s tips come from M2 Performance Nutrition Coach and CrossFit Games Athlete Kassandra Hobart.
1. Leave some things out of the fridge: Ethylene emitters, such as avocados, bananas, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, pears, and plumbs, are best kept on the counter and can be tossed in the fridge once ripe to lengthen shelf life. Store separately to keep them from ripening too quickly.
2. Store your vegetables in water: Carrots and celery wilt away in the veggie drawer if not eaten in a few days. But if you store them in water, they last much longer! Place your cut veggies into your jar, then run water over them a few times to rinse well. Fill the jar to the top with water, screw on the lid, and place in your refrigerator. Since the water covers the tops of the vegetables, air is sealed out and your veggies stay fresh and crisp for a surprisingly long time. Change the water once or twice a week for the freshest vegetables possible.
3. Make protein balls: Make energy-dense snacks that have a long shelf-life to keep your nutrients high. This is one of our favorite recipes from Dietitian Angie Asche. These can also be frozen and defrosted a few at a time to make them last even longer.
4. Keep Top of Fridge Clear: It can be tempting to use the top of your refrigerator as extra shelf storage but resist the temptation! Your refrigerator releases excess heat through the top of it. Placing foods on top traps heat in and warms the food you leave up there causing it to go bad quicker. It also may cause your fridge to work harder to stay cool which means a higher energy bill for you. When you can, keep the top of your fridge clear.
5. Lemon juice to the rescue: The acidity of a freshly squeezed lemon can help preserve not only avocados but other fruits as well. If you don’t want to eat the entire apple, orange, banana, slice it up and squeeze lemon juice on it before putting it in the fridge. It may help the fruit stay fresher for another 24-48 hours.
6. Hold off on cleaning your vegetables: Wait to wash your fruits and vegetables until right before you eat them. Adding moisture to produce before you refrigerate it can actually shorten the lifespan and speed up the decay process (unless they are in an airtight environment like the jar tip above). If you do wash fruit right away, let it sit out on a paper towel to dry before putting it back in the fridge.
7. Freeze butter you’re not using: It may sound a little funny but did you know you can freeze butter? This preserves it from rancifying and gives you a ration supply to cook with for an elongated period of time. It helps save your butter from going bad and keeps you on a tight butter budget!
8. Flip Peanut butter (or nut butter) jars upside down: Flipping the jar upside down allows the oil to slowly work through the entire substance. This saves you time mixing and preserves it longer. If you use this trick on other nut butters, try to turn the jars upside down before opening or refrigerating them. These fatty acids are best stored at room temperature while the oil absorbs back into the nuts.