(With no mention of hokey produce-preserving storage containers.)

By Betty Gold
October 28, 2019

Fact: The United States throws away 150,000 tons of food daily. And on average, around $1,500 worth of food is wasted per year in each household. Out of everything edible we waste, fruits and vegetables account for 39 percent of America's total.

The good news is that a few simple tricks could have a massive impact on the environment (and on our grocery expenses) to reduce the amount of fresh produce we toss every day.

Step one in wasting less produce is remembering that storing fruits and vegetables too closely together is a common mistake that can lead to food going bad. Build-up of the chemical compound ethylene gas will cause them to go off, so apples, melons, apricots, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, figs, and other fruits and vegetables should be kept separate as these produce the most ethylene.

RELATEDWe Put 3 Hacks for Ripening Fruit Faster to the Test—Here’s What Worked

The experts at Space Station helped us pull together this handy guide for storing fresh foods smarter—because the longer your produce, meat, and more lasts, the less you trash and repurchase.

Citrus

Netting for lemons, oranges, and limes is very dangerous to sea life and birds, so these types of fruits should always be bought loose. You can keep them out at room temperature, but once citrus fruits are past peak ripeness, storing them in the fridge will help them last longer (same goes for tomatoes and avocados). If your citrus starts to turn, you can slice the fruit up and freeze it: frozen citrus is great as ice cubes for drinks.

RELATEDThe Major Mistake You're Making With Citrus Fruits—Plus How to Buy and Store Them

Salad

Wash and dry loose leafy salad greens in a salad spinner, then wrap them loosely in paper towels and store in a food storage container to keep the leaves from going soggy.

Onions and Potatoes

Onions, potatoes, and shallots should be stored in a cool dark place to keep them fresh, like a basket in a cupboard or a cellar. Avoid storing these products in plastic bags as this encourages spoilage. Once cut, onions should be stored in a resealable bag in the fridge where they will last for around a week or stored in a container and kept in the freezer.

Cucumbers

Wash cucumbers as soon as you bring them home from the grocery store. Make sure they’re thoroughly dry as excess water will spoil them, then wrap each in a cloth or towel to prevent sogginess. Store in the fridge in a reusable vegetable bag.

Apples and Bananas

If you won’t be eating them immediately, buy bananas when they’re still slightly green and store them away from other fruits in the fruit bowl (they release high amounts of ethylene gas, which as mentioned can cause other fruits to go off more quickly). Consider using a banana tree to keep them separated and minimize bruising. Keep apples in an uncovered fruit bowl on the countertop and make sure to store them out of direct sunlight.

Herbs

A great hack for storing fresh basil and herbs is to chop the leaves in a food processor and place into an ice cube tray with a little olive oil and store in the freezer. When basil is needed for a dish, just pop in a ready-made ice cube.

Meat and Fish

Storing meat and fish in containers in the freezer will save money and food waste. Keep them well-organized (first in, first out) with labels that clearly state the date the items were frozen, as frozen meat should be eaten within three to six months.

RELATED: How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

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