A while ago, I shared a post about how you can eat healthy on a budget. I shared things to look for while grocery shopping – and tips on buying healthy food on a budget.
A lot of people ask me, as they did after reading that blog post, how they can make the foods last. Ever bought a food, get excited to enjoy it, only to see it go bad before you can use it?
I have some of my own tricks, but I also asked some fellow Precision Nutrition coaches for their best tips. Here’s what nutrition coaches do for keeping food fresh and ready-to-eat.
Tips from the Experts
According to Coach Caitlin, the answer is fermentation. “It’s pre-prepared and loaded with flavour. Sauerkraut and salsa are my favourites.” To store vegetables straight from the market, she uses Tupperware Vent Smarts. “They sit stacked on the bottom shelf above the bins in my fridge, and bulky items like cauliflower or eggplant go in there.”
Coach Cara has the solution for the dreaded half-avocado. You know the one that is often found browned and unusable the day after the first half was used… “When you cut an avocado and want to keep a portion for the next day, put a spray or spread a drop of olive oil on it to protect it from more oxygen, thereby keeping it from browning.”
Coach Jamie advised to only buy produce from a farmer’s market. “I cannot stress this enough. I bought a huge bag of spinach from our local farmer’s market and it lasted me over a month with absolutely NO wilting! Same with the bag of arugula I purchased there! I think a ton has to do with stuff being transported to grocery stores, so it’s already a little bit aged once it gets to the store. Farmer’s markets help support local, and also gets you fresher produce. Win-win!”
Coach Hayley also buys from local farmers. She specifically seeks out ones that produce organic food. “It is seasonal and has not been frozen before getting to me, which means it is fresh and it lasts! It can last up to two weeks even. Then, using the leaves and veg that goes bad quicker first, helps, leaving things like potatoes, pumpkin, and broccoli to the end of the week. Also, put things like celery, lettuce and leaves in airtight containers and it will last more than a week.”
Coach Marie uses paper towels to wrap lettuce, which helps it last for up to two weeks. She also puts paper towels in the plastic containers that greens come in.
Freezing is one of the tips Coach Cerian recommends. “Buy fresh, blanch and freeze if time is an option, or buy frozen if not. I buy my broccoli, cauliflower, peas, sweet corn, spinach, green beans and freeze them. Then, just grab a handful of whatever I need to bulk up a meal. I dice the onion and mixed peppers and freeze them too — that’s ideal for a quick omelet.”
Coach Hanna has a special way of keeping food fresh and that’s cleaning her produce… “All fruit and veg get washed in a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and water. It soaks in a big tub and then rinsed. This removes dirt and also kills fungus/bacteria that is on the surface. Berries get placed on a small towel in a bowl in the fridge; dark greens, mushrooms, and ginger get rolled in a towel and placed in Tupperware.”
What about Coach Lisa, you ask? Here are a few of my own tips.
Tips from Coach Lisa for Keeping Food Fresh
- Store fresh-cut veggies in a domed container. There’s something about this type of container that prevents moisture buildup. Too much moisture can cause the veggies to go mushy.
- Put a bit of lemon juice on the flesh of apples, eggplant, and avocado so they don’t turn brown.
- Save time by cutting peppers into wedges. When it’s time to eat, if the edges are soft, you can simply trim the soft part off. I don’t suggest cutting peppers into strips, because they do get mushy on the sides.
- Cucumber slices only last a day or two, so it’s better to keep a cucumber wrapped in its plastic until you need to use it.
- Give wilted veggies new life by roasting them with a bit of sea salt and pepper in the oven. They will last for days already cooked.
- If your lettuce, celery or grapes seem a bit wilted, place them in cold water. This often livens them back up, and they will keep for days.
- Put the root part of green onion in a glass with water, and they will regrow. You can use the regrowth up to three times before tossing them out and buying fresh ones.
- Clean romaine lettuce and spin in a salad spinner. Then store the lettuce in a plastic container with a paper towel. You’ll be able to store the lettuce in the fridge for up to a month.
- Spinach can be used in so many ways but if you aren’t careful, it can go bad quickly. Instead of making it into your smoothies, salads, soups or egg dishes. You can keep your spinach longer by washing and drying it, and keeping it in a plastic bag with a paper towel. Make sure to squeeze all the air out. If you buy pre-washed spinach, use a couple of paper towels throughout the container. If you haven’t used all of the spinach and it’s starting to wilt, put it in a blender with a little bit of water and pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Toss the “spinach cubes” into the blender when you make smoothies!
- Peel, cut and freeze fruit that is starting to go bad to be used in smoothies.
Despite all of these great tips, the best tip I can give you for keeping food fresh is to make sure you plan ahead. Planning meals at the beginning of the week will mean you know what ingredients you need. This means you won’t be guessing at the store and buying things you’ll forget about and not use. Being prepared will prevent any unnecessary food waste.