When you are trying to reduce food waste, or if you’re going for an ambitious zero-waste lifestyle, the concept seems simple: don’t waste food! It can’t always be that easy. What about that that pesky produce that goes bad so quickly? Or that sticky food that won’t come off the packaging? Here are some helpful kitchen hacks to help you use up every last bit of food – so nothing at all will go to waste!
Keep your salad greens from getting soggy
If you store your salad greens in a plastic bag, you might notice they start to go bad fairly quickly. To prolong your greens from getting soggy, you can blow into the bag and seal it tightly before returning them to the refrigerator. The carbon dioxide will help to keep the salad fresher for longer.
Keep asparagus fresh for longer
Trim off the bottom of asparagus stalks and store them upright in a jar with a little bit of water. An inch or two should do the trick. Put a plastic bag over the tops of the stalks and use a twist tie to seal the baggie tightly to the jar. This will help keep them fresh for a couple of weeks!
Prolong banana life
Wrap some plastic around the stem of a bunch of bananas to keep them fresher longer. You’ll especially see this with organic bananas at grocery stores. Keep them out of the refrigerator to keep them from getting brown and squishy.
Squeeze out the last bit of lemon juice
Use a pair of tongs to squeeze your lemons with a little bit of extra force to get out all of the juice. It can be difficult to squeeze more than a little bit of juice out of a single piece of fruit, and now there’s no need to waste any! This also works for limes, oranges, and other citrus.
Delay the browning of halved avocados
Store your halved avocados with a cut onion! Compounds in onions may help to prevent oxidation, which is what makes those pesky avocados turn brown so quickly. This will help keep them fresher for an additional day or two, which is a huge deal for those of us who eat lots of avocados!
Know when eggs go bad
You can tell the difference between a fresh egg and a rotten egg without cracking it open or tasting it. Really fresh eggs will sink in a glass of water. The secret is that bad eggs will float in water, whereas really fresh eggs sink.
Keep your onions fresh
Store them in a hold-punched paper bags to keep them fresh for months at a time. Use a hole punch to make a few columns of holes in the top three quarters of a paper bag. After you load in your onions, shallots, or garlic, fold over the top and hold it closed with a clip. It’s easy!
Transform stale bread
Don’t toss out your bread when it starts getting hard and goes stale. You can use it to make delicious crunchy croutons for salads.
Make reusable food wrap
You don’t have to use wasteful plastic wrap to cover your food anymore! Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Take a few squares of organic cotton and set them on a parchment sheet. Sprinkle on beeswax shavings and bake for 5-10 minutes until melted. Smooth the wax with a brush and then hang to dry. You can use these sheets to cover food again and again!
Before your herbs go bad, chop them up into small pieces and mix them up with butter or oil. Put the herb concoction into ice cube trays, freeze them, and then store them in a freezer bag. They’re great for easy seasoning later, for sauteing, mixing with vegetables, or putting on popcorn or toast.
Keep brown sugar fresh and soft
It’s a horrible thing to reach for the brown sugar and realize it’s hard as a rock! You can prevent this from happening with just a few marshmallows. Toss them in the bag with your brown sugar and voila! Your sugar won’t turn into a rock so quickly!
Keep potatoes bud-free
Store your potatoes with an apple. Gasses released by the apple will help preserve the potato and keep it from budding. Potatoes that were stored this way continued to be bud-free after 8 weeks, and potatoes that were stored without an apple became shriveled and sprouted, as reported to America’s Test Kitchen.
Save empty butter wrappers
There’s usually a little bit of butter left behind on the wrapper after you use it all up. Don’t toss that wrapper! Keep them in the freezer and use them to grease pans when it’s time to do some baking. It’s the perfect amount and saves waste.
Use up that last bit of jam
There’s always a little bit of jam or jelly left in the bottom of the jar that is nearly impossible to scrape out. Thankfully, there’s an alternative. You can turn it into a delicious fruity vinaigrette. Add in oil and vinegar to the jar and shake it up. It’s a great way to save and spruce up your salads.
Every bit of food can be used for something, so stop wasting money by wasting food. Only purchase what you know you can use, and store it correctly to prolong its freshness. Do you have any great kitchen hacks that we missed? Share them with us in the comment section below!