The Imperfect Foods Grocery Storage Guide

Storing your groceries properly is one of the best ways to make them last and stop food waste before it starts. If you store things intentionally and do some meal planning around the shelf-life of your favorite ingredients, you’ll find that you waste less food, enjoy cooking more, and save money, too! Start by downloading our handy storage guide and then follow these tips: 

On the counter

  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, since fruits like apples and pears release gases that can make veggies spoil faster. 
  • Store counter items loose and away from sunlight, heat, and moisture. 
  • Keep tomatoes at room temperature to preserve their flavor and aroma. 
  • Fruits like apples, pears, and bananas naturally release ethylene gas as they ripen, which makes things nearby ripen, too. You can use this to your advantage to make a stubborn avocado or peach ripen faster. Just stick the item you’d like to ripen in a paper bag alongside an apple or banana. It should be ready in a day or two. 
  • Basil is one of the few herbs that doesn’t tolerate cold temperatures. Since basil will wilt and die in your fridge. Keep it on the counter in a jar of water, like a bouquet of flowers. 
  • Keep your oil away from heat and light, since these will both make it go rancid faster. 
  • Citrus will last longer in the fridge but taste better at room temperature. As a good compromise, keep them in the fridge if you’d like, but bring them to room temperature before using. 

In the pantry

  • Separate onions and potatoes, since gases from the onions will make the potatoes sprout faster and moisture from the potatoes will make the onions turn soft. 
  • Nuts are fine in the pantry, but if you’ve got too many of them to finish, stash them in the freezer to make them last longer
  • Buy whole spices and grind them yourself, if you can, since preground spices are less flavorful and will go bad faster than whole spices. 

In the fridge

  • Always refrigerate cut or peeled produce. 
  • Don’t keep temperature sensitive items like milk or eggs in the door of your refrigerator, since this area often doesn’t stay cold enough to keep them fresh. 
  • Don’t store leafy greens like kale, chard, or lettuce “naked” as they will dry out and wilt in the the fridge. Instead, keep them in the crisper drawer, ideally wrapped in a dish towel or beeswax food wrap. 
  • Store herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint in a jar of water in the fridge, like cut flowers. 
  • Keep mushrooms in a paper bag 
  • If your carrots, beets, or radishes come with the tops on, take them off before putting them away, since the tops will drain water from the roots and make them go bad faster. You don’t have to throw the tops away, however, since there are plenty of root-to-leaf recipes you can make with them. Carrot tops taste very similar to parsley, beet tops are almost identical to chard, and radish greens taste a lot like arugula. 

In the freezer

  • The freezer isn’t just for ice cream! Use your freezer to extend the life of leftovers you can’t finish or veggies you’ve bought too much of. 
  • Freeze extra fruit like bananas or berries to use up in smoothies. 
  • Freeze your veggie scraps like fennel stalks, celery leaves, mushroom stems, or leek greens to add to homemade vegetable stock
  • If you can, label and date all of the leftovers that you put in the freezer so you can easily scan what’s in there and identify what you need to use up first. 

Want to learn where to put all of your favorite groceries to make them last longer? Be sure to download our storage guide! It’s a handy way to see at a glance where all of your food should live to last as long as possible. Many folks in our community display theirs on their fridge as an easy reference.