Some say the eyes are the window to the soul, I say a fridge is the window to happiness.
Having a fridge full of fresh fruit and vegetables not only looks beautiful but will have you feeling like a million dollars!
One third of the world’s food is wasted. Food waste contributes up to eight percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions and with the average household wasting the equivalent of every fifth bag of groceries there has never been a better time to reevaluate your fridge, help the environment and your wallet at the same time.
Storing food in a correct way, shopping smart and simple food prep cheats can make a world of difference to how long food lasts and help you consume all of that scrumptious food inside your fridge.
Here are my tips to get the most from your fridge:
1. Starting fresh
Once a week I set aside 30 minutes to do a “clean and stock take” of my fridge.
This involves removing everything from the fridge and cleaning all shelves and the door.
When it is time to return the food items to the fridge I take stock of each item before returning to their spot on the shelf, Check dates on everything and make easily accessible the food that needs to be used first to ensure it doesn’t end up as waste.
Remember to check the temperature of your fridge and freezer, If you find food isn’t lasting as long as it should or is getting Icey it may be that you fridge is getting to cold or not cold enough.
2. Treat your herbs like a bouquet.
This also works for leafy greens with a stalk such as kale and celery.
With a sharp knife or scissors, remove a centimeter from the tips of the stalk and store in a jar or glass with the freshly cut stalk tips in water (similar to flowers in a vase) and place in the fridge. Change the water regularly, every second day works well for me.
Often if you have herbs that are starting to become limp and lifeless, removing the stalk tips and placing them in water will revive them and significantly extend their fridge life.
When your herbs inevitably reach the last of their fridge life they can then be ground or blended together with oil and frozen in an ice cube tray for later use in sauces or for an easy starter for meals.
3. Recycled jars
Using recycled glass jars for food storage is a great plastic free way to keep food fresher for longer and also more organized and easily accessible.
Glass jars are easy to clean, they can be airtight and will significantly extend the life of most fresh food.
Another bonus with glass jars is that they are see through so you can easily view the contents of each jar but also asses if things need to be used as they are coming to the end of their freshness.
Along with being free from chemicals that are often found in plastic containers such as BPA glass jars are also better for the environment.
They are easy to recycle (simply wash and remove the label and you are good to go). Of course, they look great and are super cost-effective too!
4. The handy tea-towel!
Gone are the paper towel days!
Using clean tea towels or dish towels to store food and keep it fresh is probably my favorite food freshness hack.
Wrapping vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli in a slightly damp tea towel will keep them from going limp.
Storing spinach and lettuce in a glass containers with a dry tea towel on top with make those babies last and last.
5. A little bit of prep goes a long way.
How many time do you find yourself staring at the fridge and thinking there is nothing to eat?
Doing ten minutes of prep work when you bring the groceries home will save you time later on and you will thank yourself when you are hit with a snack attack.
Try cutting carrot and celery sticks and storing them in a jar of water, cutting melons and pineapples and having them ready to go for a quick option. Another way the recycled jar comes in handy is that they are perfect to transport your prepared fruit or salad for a quick on the go nibble.
Prepping some fruit and vegetables for the freezer can be a god send, having prepared vegetable when you need to make a meal in a hurry.
6. Don’t over shop.
Everyone loves a bargain but if you see five kilos of carrots for the price of two and don’t plan on using them in every salad, juice, soup or smoothie for the rest of the week, then you should probably go for the “less is more” approach. Always try to keep in mind how much of an item you generally use over your shopping cycle.
This is where stock taking and being aware of what’s in you fridge come the end of the week really helps.
If you find that you always have certain foods left over or you are having to throw out things before you can consume them, then reevaluating the amount you buy can help to reduce waste while saving you time and money.
It sounds simple but it’s a common mistake that most households make and nobody wants to see their hard earned money being thrown out.
6. Ugly food is beautiful
When things are starting to look a bit floppy or soft it doesn’t mean that is the end for them. We have come a long way as a society but we have been feed the idea of perfect looking food for so long that we happily throw out food that has so much more to give,
You can’t tell that the apple had a bruise when it’s in your juice, that floppy carrot will still make an excellent addition to your stock, throwing together a plate full of vegetable for dinner because you have to use what’s losing freshness isn’t lazy cooking its smart and delicious!
Changing our ideas of what perfect food should look like can have a huge impact on the way we shop and how much we get from the food we buy.
7. Freezer is your friend
The humble freezer once only used to store your leftovers or a sneaky tub of ice cream can be one of your best friends.
I freeze all of my fresh fruit and vegetable scraps in a container to use for stocks at the end of the week.
Freezing fruit for smoothies and nice-creams, or extra vegetables like ginger, chili, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, greens (spinach and broccoli), mushroom, zucchinis and so many others can be frozen with little to no effort and last for months
8. Break the “rules”
Everybody loves a rebel. Nobody knows your food habits like you do.
Personally I love a cold tomato so I keep my tomatoes in the fridge, I don’t keep lids on my berries because they disappear faster when everyone in our household can walk past and grab a handful.
Using the crisper is great for keeping food fresh but food can get lost in the bottom if you know you are going to forget about certain foods keep them on a shelf in clear view. Sure they might not last as long but if you are more likely to use them it really doesn’t matter.
Figuring out a system that works for you might not necessarily fit within “rule” as long as you are storing food safely there is no real right way to do it.
In a perfect world everybody would only buy and consume what they needed eliminating unnecessary food waste completely. While that might be a wild dream we can all do our part to minimize our effects on the planet and take charge of our health with a whole food plant based diet.
Utilizing your fridge to make it work for you and taking steps to understand your food consumption is a great step in the right direct and the benefits will speak for themselves.