Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

15 Tips to Store Your Food So It Will Last Longer

author image Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN
Caroline Kaufman helps busy people live healthier, less stressful lives. She has an M.S. in nutrition communication from Tufts and an A.B. in English from Harvard. Caroline is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, writer, consultant for Health Warrior and the California Strawberry Commission and blogger at

Slide 1 of 17

15 Tips to Store Your Food So It Will Last Longer
Photo Credit: adobe/jpgadobe_bioparo

Have you ever opened a crisper drawer to find wilting herbs, soggy onions or a lifeless tomato? Tossed out sprouted potatoes, rancid flax meal, dried-up garlic or suspicious eggs? If so, you’re not alone. The average American throws away nearly 20 pounds of food per person every month, according to a 2012 report from the National Resources Defense Council -- that’s like dumping $165 billion dollars into a landfill.

1. Olive Oil
Photo Credit: Eric Audras/ONOKY/Getty Images

1 Olive Oil

Buy olive oil in dark glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or pantry, recommends the American Olive Oil Producers Association. Don’t put olive oil in the refrigerator. You’ll risk condensation -- water droplets forming inside the bottle -- that can change the flavor. Shelf Life: Unopened and stored properly, olive oil can stay fresh for up to two years from the date bottled, says the AOOPA. Once opened, consume within a few months.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

2. Potatoes
Photo Credit: Adam Gault/OJO Images/Getty Images

2 Potatoes

Potatoes like it dark and cozy, so keep them in a perforated plastic or paper bag in a dark corner of the kitchen. Avoid temperature extremes. Heat (think under the kitchen sink or in front of a window) encourages sprouting, while the cold refrigerator rapidly turns starches into sugar, resulting in a discolored, sweet-flavored spud.

Listen now: Why America’s Obsession With ‘Happiness’ Is Totally Stressing Us Out

3. Nuts
Photo Credit: Lenora Gim/The Image Bank/Getty Images

3 Nuts

Nuts are naturally oily, which is great for their flavor and heart-health benefits, but bad for their longevity. Oil eventually turns rancid, and spoiled nuts take on a bitter, sharp and overall gross flavor. Fortunately, cold temperatures can delay their demise. Once in the refrigerator in an airtight container, nuts last for about a year.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

4. Eggs
Photo Credit: Okssi68/iStock/Getty Images

4 Eggs

Ignore the adorable egg tray in the refrigerator door. Instead, stick the carton where the sun don’t shine (as in the middle or lower shelf). Keep raw eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door where temperature fluctuations can decrease their quality.

Read more: The 20 Best Ways to Use Eggs

5. Ground Flaxseed (Flax Meal)
Photo Credit: G.G.Bruno/Moment/Getty Images

5 Ground Flaxseed (Flax Meal)

Grinding whole flaxseed destroys their hard outer shells, making the fiber and omega-3 fatty acids inside available for your body to digest. That’s good. However, grinding exposes the sensitive omega-3 fatty acids inside to oxygen and heat, which cause spoilage. That’s not good. For the freshest flax meal, grind whole seeds as needed, according to the Flax Council of Canada. Keep store-bought flax meal in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve its quality and freshness.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

6. Berries
Photo Credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/Photodisc/Getty Images

6 Berries

Refrigerate berries -- unwashed -- in their original containers. Rinse gently in cold water right before eating. On a side note -- you can easily freeze fresh berries to enjoy them all year long. Gently rinse berries (except blueberries) in cool water, let them dry completely, and stow in sealed containers. Driscoll’s recommends not washing blueberries before freezing because it can toughen their skins. Instead, thaw and wash before using.

Read more: 22 Delicious Protein Powder Recipes (That Are NOT Shakes)

7. Whole Grain Flour
Photo Credit: Tom Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

7 Whole Grain Flour

Whole-grain flours are more susceptible to oxidation than intact whole grains because more of the surface area of the grain is exposed to heat, air and moisture -- whole-grain flours’ greatest enemies, according to Katie Walker, spokesperson for King Arthur Flour. To keep flour fresh, King Arthur Flour recommends storing all whole-wheat and alternative flours (think spelt, quinoa, millet, amaranth and rye) in airtight containers in the freezer. “If the freezer is too full, the refrigerator is better than nothing,” Walker adds. Whole-grain flour will last for three months in the pantry after opening, six months in the refrigerator and longer in the freezer. When in doubt, trust your nose. “Flour should have a faint, sweet smell or no aroma at all. If a musty or oily scent is detected, then the flour has passed its peak,” says Walker.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

8. Asparagus
Photo Credit: Sarah Palmer/Moment/Getty Images

8 Asparagus

According to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, asparagus should be stored “clean, cold and covered.” For best results, trim a quarter-inch from the stem, wash thoroughly, pat dry and store -- stems down -- in a jar filled with two inches of cold water. The Advisory Board recommends consuming within two to three days of storing.

Read more: 16 Snacks That Are OK to Eat at Night

9. Tomatoes
Photo Credit: Richard Boll/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

9 Tomatoes

Close the refrigerator door and slowly step away. You’re ruining your tomatoes. Cold temperatures destroy their flavor and keep tomatoes from ripening to peak deliciousness. The Florida Tomato Committee recommends placing them with the stem up on the counter at room temperature. If they’re not ripe enough, they’ll just need a day or two (no more than five) to turn a rich, ripe red.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

10. Garlic
Photo Credit: Alter_photo/iStock/Getty Images

10 Garlic

Keep garlic in a cool, dark area with good ventilation. A mesh bag or basket will do the trick. The Herb Society of America advises against refrigeration, which can hasten mold. You can freeze garlic, either as whole cloves or pureed with a little water in ice trays, says the Herb Society.

Read more: 10 Incredible Garlic Hacks

11. Ginger
Photo Credit: Nick Daly/Cultura/Getty Images

11 Ginger

To minimize waste, buy only what you need (in most stores, it’s fine to break off a piece). Store ginger dry, unpeeled and sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, recommends Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, a Chicago-based consultant chef and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Wash and peel right before using.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

12. Lettuce
Photo Credit: kazoka30/iStock/Getty Images

12 Lettuce

To keep lettuce fresh, Sara Haas, RDN, recommends sealing rinsed and dried leaves in a plastic bag between two clean paper towels. “Avoid moisture, which will cause leaves to wilt,” she adds.

Read more: 10 Herbs and Spices to Help You Lose Weight

13. Onions
Photo Credit: John Rensten/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

13 Onions

The experts at the National Onion Association recommend storing whole onion bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place with good air circulation. In other words, don’t keep onions in plastic bags, in front of a window or in the refrigerator. Exceptions: Sweet or mild onions can be refrigerated to extend shelf life as long as they’re in a low-humidity drawer. Once peeled, onions should be refrigerated.

Read more: 14 Smart Ways to Cut Food Waste

14. Basil
Photo Credit: All rights reserved to C. K. Chan/Moment/Getty Images

14 Basil

Like a bouquet of flowers, trim the stems and place basil in a glass of water. Don’t let the water touch the leaves, which “will cause them to darken,” warns Sara Haas, RDN. Next, cover the leaves with plastic wrap or a bag and secure with a rubber band.

Read more: 10 Herbs and Spices to Help You Lose Weight

15. Avocados
Photo Credit: shrutebucks/iStock/Getty Images

15 Avocados

Unripe, firm avocados will ripen on the counter at room temperature (it may take four to five days). Don’t put them in the refrigerator, which can slow the ripening process, advises the Hass Avocado Board. To speed ripening, place avocados in a paper bag with a banana or apple; these fruits produce ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent. Once cut, sprinkle the fruit with lime or lemon juice or coat lightly in oil and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a day.

Read more: 8 Cool Things You Can Do With Avocados

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: JackF/iStock/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

What foods have you been storing wrong? Any surprises? Do you have any tips or tricks to keep certain foods fresh and safe.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media