18 Ways to Fight Food Waste

Start salvaging your groceries and leftovers with these economic tips. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
5-minute read

Whether its extending the life of your groceries or salvaging those that are already past their prime, these storage tips will have you saving food and money. Learn how to preserve everything from old fruit to the last few drops of wine. 

Fruit and vegetable secrets

1. Zest anytime you need it
Don’t toss those lemons after you’ve used their juice! Store halves in zipper-lock bags in the freezer until you need their zest for a recipe.

2. Berry bath to beat bacteria
Get rid of any mold spores lurking on your berries or greens by rinsing them well in vinegar water before putting them in your fridge. After discarding any berries that show even a bit of mold, put 3 cups cold water and 1 cup white vinegar in a large bowl or salad spinner. Immerse the berries, and swish around for about a minute. Drain the berries, then rinse with clean, cold water until any trace of vinegar aroma or taste is gone. Spread out rinsed berries on a clean cloth or paper towels, and pat and roll lightly with towels to dry them well.

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3. The gentlest way to dry berries
Berries need to be rinsed, but they taste (and keep) best when they’re dry. Here’s the best drying technique: Set a dry dish towel on the counter, stretched out lengthwise. After rinsing the berries, place them in the center of the towel. Then fold the towel in as you would a formal letter. Take an end in each hand to hold the towel loosely, then tilt the package gently back and forth to roll the berries and dry.

4. Bring berries back
Berries gone soft but not moldy or rotten? Place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and stick in the freezer for 20 minutes. They’ll be firm enough again to serve with ice cream or yogurt.

Related: Nutrition Diva's 9 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

5. Wrap bananas right
Bananas are almost as bad as berries when it comes to how quickly they can go from perfect to overripe. It often seems like the blink of an eye! But you can make your bananas last longer without brown spots by simply wrapping the stems in plastic wrap. Why it works: The stems are the hot spot for ethylene gas emission, which brings on the browning. Contain the stems and you minimize the spread to the rest of the banana. Simple and smart!

6. Keep figs fresh longer
Figs are fragile—they bruise and spoil quickly if left to bump against each other in a bowl or bag. So treat them like another fragile food: eggs. Place figs in an empty egg carton to protect their personal space and help them stay fresh to enjoy longer.

7. Tip-top tomatoes
For the best storage, keep tomatoes stem-side down in a cool place on your counter. Because they’re fairly delicate, placing tomatoes upside down thwarts air from entering through their stems, which accelerates ripening.

If tomatoes are stored in the fridge, they’ll lose flavor and develop a mealy texture.

8. Send cukes to the counter
Surprise! Cucumbers will last longer at room temperature whereas keeping them in the fridge will accelerate their decay.

9. Freeze the green
Have way too many green onions left after using what you need for your recipe? Chop them up and freeze them in an empty water bottle (plastic or glass). They’ll be quick to pull out whenever you need to add some to a stew.

10. Save the white, too!
Quit wasting money on green onions! Next time you buy fresh green onions, don’t toss the white ends. Instead, stick them in a glass of water and place the glass in a sunny window. In a few days, the onions will begin to regrow. Then whenever you have a recipe that calls for green onions, just snip off what you need. Keep the water fresh by changing every so often.

Best tip for beverages

11. Save your wine by losing your marbles
How do those boxes of wine last so much longer than open bottles? Their design minimizes air entry, which brings on spoilage and compromises taste. You can create your own wine-saving storage with a mason jar when you have just a little left. Pour the leftover wine into the jar, then add clean marbles until the jar is full with no space for air. Close off with the jar’s airtight lid.

Pantry power

12. Flip for this PB tip
All-natural nut butters are healthy and delicious, but it takes a lot of arm action to stir them every time you pull out the jar! The answer: Flip their jars upside down to keep them from separating. Keep the lids screwed on tight, and don’t try and do this with a lid that doesn’t screw onto the jar.

13. Cap that bag closed
You can create an airtight, sealed bag with the top part of an old plastic bottle. All you need to do is cut off the top of the bottle and take off the cap. Push the bag through the bottleneck, fold it over the edges, and twist the cap back on. It’s much more effective at keeping food fresh than the usual clothespin method.

See also: Clever Cookstr's 10 Basics of Good Home Cooking

14. Make a 2-in-1 package
You can divide a bag of beans or noodles in half without measuring or moving the food into a separate container. Simply lay the package flat and even out the contents. Then pinch the bag in the center, twist, and secure tightly with a rubber band. It should look like an hourglass but with no space for contents to cross from one side of the bag to the other. To use one portion, snip a corner of the bag open. The rest of the bag remains secure for another time.

Fridge and freezer smarts

15. Stop the clump
Whether you shred your own or use store-bought bags, shredded cheese can clump in its package. A simple trick: Add in a pinch of cornstarch or flour. The addition will coat the shreds and keep them separated.

16. Keep pouring that ketchup
Ketchup bottle nearly empty? Don’t give up—or needlessly bang on the bottom! Simply pour in a bit of vinegar and shake the closed bottle. There’ll be no change to the taste, and you’ll get more out.

Love your leftovers

17. Saucy storage
Another idea that gives you flexibility in finding a temporary home for leftover sauce: Store it in a plastic Easter egg. Fill both sides, snap together, then find a little pocket of freezer space to store.

If the frozen egg resists opening when you’re ready to use, run warm water over it.

18. Fast, delicious pizza heating
When microwaving pizza, put a small glass of water in the microwave to keep the crust from getting chewy.

Just for fun: Who Knew's 10 Costly Mistakes You're Making at the Grocery Store

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.