Thursday, October 27, 2011

On a Working Gal's Budget: Proper Food Storage (VeganMoFo)

Cutting your grocery bill doesn’t stop when you get home from the store.  Proper food storage is essential (vital, crucial, mandatory!) to getting the most out of all the food you spend your hard earned money on.  Knowing how best to store and organize your food will help you use it before it goes bad and stop you from throwing your groceries and green into the compost bin.  I’d like to share some things I’ve learned along the way that have stopped me from doing just that. 

It’s important to know how best to store precious produce, especially since this is what tends to spoil the fastest.  Because most of my produce comes from a biweekly CSA, I need to make sure that it lasts me the full two weeks.  The amount of goods I get is enormous and apart from a couple meals that I cook for my man each week, I am basically the only one nomming on it.  What follows are some tips on how to keep your goods good using proper storage methods. 

1.  Invest in proper fruit/vegetable storage:  For this I use Tupperware Fridgesmarts.  I am a Tupperware lady at heart.  Many people gawk at how pricey these containers are, but I have saved plenty when the amount of food I’m NOT throwing away is considered, not to mention the time and gas I save by not having to make emergency trips to the store because my fill in the blank went bad.  Check out Amazon for great deals on Tupperware.  If you are not a Tupperware fan, there are other containers specially made for storing fresh produce that you can get at your local Target or what not.  The important thing is to get your produce out of the plastic bags from the store or your own reusable mesh produce bags and into something that will help it last longer (look for containers with airtight seals that are designed to prevent produce from sitting in its own moisture).

2.  Know how and when to care for your produce:  Berries and delicate fruits/vegetables shouldn’t be washed and then stored.  For the most part, I wait to wash my produce until I am ready to use it or pack it in a lunch.  When I get a huge trough of strawberries from the farmers market I throw them straight into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge.  I then wash what I want, the day I want it.  This gives me a few more days to eat them before they go bad. 

3.  Make sure your storage is organized and everything is visible:  In my experience, food that I can’t readily see doesn’t get eaten.  For this I use as many clear containers as possible and I label everything, even in the fridge.  A roll of masking tape and a permanent marker work wonderfully and won’t leave gunk on your storage.  Each week or so when you are about to make a grocery trip, go through your fridge and clean out anything that is no longer good and stuff that you may want to freeze for later.  Fridge space is precious.

4.  Know what’s best for the fridge, the freezer and beyond: 
Fridge - Most vegetables are going in the fridge.  See some exceptions below.  Fruits that should be refrigerated are berries of all kinds and grapes.  Fruits can be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process as well.  I leave mangos out but if they have ripened and I can’t eat them that day, I’ll stick them in reefer.  This goes for kiwis as well. 
Outside your Fridge – Onions, potatoes, yams, tomatoes and eggplant should not take shelter in your fridge.  Most fruit I keep out of the fridge as well.  Store these items in a rad looking bowl and put them on your dining table or countertop.  With them in your sites, you will probably eat them faster.    
Freezer -  Bread and such like tortillas and wraps should be frozen, especially if you live alone or don’t go through bread really quickly.  My bread can start collecting mold within 2 days of being out on the counter, especially during the warm seasons.  Bread and tortillas are so easy to just defrost what you need when you need it.  Nuts and seeds should also be stored in the freezer when you bring them home.  The oils in nuts can go rancid and it is not a pleasant taste.  These guys are also rather pricey so you don’t want those valuable dollars spent in vain!  Keeping nuts and seeds in the freezer allows you to keep a wide range on hand for various recipes (see Sweet Nut Puree Fruit Topping).    

Special Note on Mushrooms:  Mushrooms go in the fridge and should not be cleaned until you are ready to use them.  They should be wiped clean, rather than placed under running water.  When you get a package home from the store, remove the plastic wrap and place the container in a brown paper bag.  I reuse the same brown paper bag over and over for this.  The brown paper bag prevents the mushrooms from getting slimy. 

Get saving!


  1. I love this! I'm all about saving money, AND leftovers!! I'll have to look into FridgeSmarts.

    I nominated you for a Liebster award!

  2. These are some great tips! Definitely need to work on keeping my fridge organised so that everything's in sight, I tend to forget about food shoved at the back of my fridge and discover it a little too late.