How to Make Food Last Longer
The issue of food waste is a hot topic, and it’s no wonder why. Research shows that we Americans waste between 15 and 25 percent of the food we purchase. Imagine tossing one out of every four grocery bags right into the trash! However, there are simple things you can do to make some of your favorite healthy foods last longer.
You may have bought an avocado, opened it and found that it was unripe. To allow it to continue to ripen, sprinkle the exposed flesh with citrus juice (like lemon or lime), place the two halves together, cover tightly with clear plastic wrap, and refrigerate. What about extra avocado that’s already ripe? To store, sprinkle the flesh with citrus juice, place in an airtight container or tightly cover in clear plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 1 day.
Once you open a package of nuts, the shelf life is about 2 weeks. The fat within the nuts can go rancid more quickly once the package is opened. To make nuts last longer, store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
In order to reduce food waste, don’t toss those stems! The chard leaves can be used just like spinach in pasta dishes, omelets or soup. The stems can be substituted for vegetables like asparagus and broccoli in a stir-fry or soup, or sauteed in a touch of olive oil and garlic.
This is another veggie where you can use more than the flesh in your dishes. Roast, boil or steam beets and toss them over a spinach salad, blend them into smoothies or puree them into dips. Beet greens can be cooked just like spinach or Swiss chard. You can steam or saute them and add them into stew, soup, pasta or grain dishes.
Soft cheeses like Brie and goat cheese need to be consumed quickly. When it comes to a hard cheese like Parmesan, however, it’s a whole other story. To make it last for months, take the hard cheese out of its original packaging, then wrap in parchment paper and foil. Further, if you find mold growing on hard cheese, you don’t have to toss it. Instead, cut off 1 inch (about the size of a quarter) around the mold and you can continue enjoying your cheese!
Your herbs can last longer if you treat them like flowers. That means dry and then trim the stems, then place in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag or paper towel. Store in the refrigerator and change the water daily. If you find yourself with just too many fresh herbs, chop and freeze them!
Raw eggs can last in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks. However, do not store them in the door (it’s the warmest part of the refrigerator). Instead, place them in the coolest part of the refrigerator, which is by the back. Also, store eggs in their original container. There’s no need to wash them before use, as they have been prewashed.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.