DGC-Guide-5_mushrooms (3) (2)

There’s nothing worse than having to toss out that wilted spinach you so-optimistically bought last week. You had the best of intentions when you bought the food (cooking at home is healthier and more affordable than takeout, after all) but then life got in the way. 

Food waste is a common problem. So common, in fact, that the average U.S. household wastes almost 32 percent1 of their food — costing an extra $1,866 per household annually.

Figuring out the best way to preserve the life of fresh food can be confusing. Which foods need to be in airtight containers again? And…which ones will rot more quickly without air? Which foods thrive when they’re dry and which are better off submerged in water? 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything from vinegar baths to stem-wrapping, teaching you tips and tricks to give you extra time to enjoy the food you buy. Committing to less household food waste is just one way we can all do our part for our planet, and keep a little extra money in our pockets.

Nobody wants to waste food. So why do we?

We all feel guilty when we send our leftovers or unused food down the drain or into the trash. But despite knowing these things, we don’t change our habits. Why? 

  • Aspirational buying. When we go to the store, we are filled with the best intentions. Grocery stores are filled with opportunity and potential. But they’re also laid out by strategists who know exactly where to place products to catch your eye. 
  • Ignoring leftovers. When we cook more than we can eat, it’s easy to wrap up the leftovers and then forget about them and the fact that we can freeze a dish or create an exciting new recipe to give these leftovers new life.
  • Failing to keep things fresh. Few people have time to go to the grocery store every day to get fresh produce…so we buy in bulk. The problem? Produce ends up going bad faster than we can eat it. 

At Do Good Chicken, our mission is to eliminate food waste. While we’re upcycling surplus food in the retail market, consider these tips for doing your part to reduce waste at home.

Zooming in: The history of food waste

Household food waste is actually a fairly new problem. Until refrigerators became a standard household appliance in the early 1900s2, leftovers simply didn’t exist. Instead, preserving ingredients was the standard; in fact, cookbooks laid out directions for pickling or salting ingredients you didn’t use, as opposed to preserving a full meal from the table. 
It actually used to be that leftovers were a luxury that people didn’t take for granted, especially in the wartime years and throughout the Great Depression. But once the majority of American homes had refrigerators and food prices began falling, leftovers lost their status. Throwing them away became “a mark of middle-class status3.”

Food waste: Don’t be lazy with leftovers 

Not on the list? Resist!

Planning ahead is a highly effective way to reduce waste at home, but it can be tough to carve out the time to sit down and plan a week of meals. We have other things to worry about, right? Consider this: It will actually save you time. 

Taking 30 minutes to an hour to write out your meals for the week, then using that plan at the grocery store, will mean shorter, easier supermarket trips. Plus…

  • You lighten the mental load of meal planning for the rest of your week.
  • You don’t have to think about what to make for dinner, because it’s in the plan.
  • You squash the temptation to pull into a fast food drive-thru, because you know you have your plan and ingredients at home. 

The most important part of this plan is to stick to that plan at the grocery store. If it’s not in the plan, don’t get it. The less food you buy that you don’t need, the less waste you will have.

The freezer is your friend

For people who live alone or with one other person, it’s easy to have foods expire because many perishables are only offered in large portions (think: eight-packs of hamburger buns, six servings of pasta sauce in a can, and ground beef packaged by the pound).

Did you know bread can be frozen for up to three months4? Most fruit is good in the freezer for three to six months5, too. To freeze without clumping, spread the fruit on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer overnight. After they’re frozen, you can throw them all together into a more compact airtight container, then back into the freezer. Be sure to label the containers with the type of fruit and date so you can keep track of its freshness. 

Extend ‘yo preserving

Once you’ve got your grocery plan down pat, you may notice some holes in your plan. Maybe you only have time to grocery shop on Sundays, but you want to prep a healthy cookout that coming Saturday. How will you ensure your fruit salad and veggies stay crisp and fresh for six days? Enter: little-known tips and tricks for keeping that food fresh as can be.

Once you’ve got your grocery plan down pat, you may notice some holes in your plan. Maybe you only have time to grocery shop on Sundays, but you want to prep a healthy cookout that coming Saturday. How will you ensure your fruit salad and veggies stay crisp and fresh for six days? Enter: little-known tips and tricks for keeping that food fresh as can be.

Fruits

Berry fresh berries 

For all types of berries — blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. — vinegar6 (distilled white or apple cider7 both work) can help keep these fruits from going bad. Wash them in a diluted vinegar bath of three parts water and one part vinegar and let them soak for about five minutes. (The vinegar lowers the pH level on the surface of the berries and helps keep bacteria and mold spores to a minimum.) Rinse them with water well, shaking them up thoroughly to aerate them, then let them air dry or pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. 

After they are dry, store them in a container lined with a towel with the lid slightly ajar to let moisture escape, or put them in a paper bag, checking to make sure they’re still dry every couple of days. They should stay fresh for about a week.

Slow down browning apples, bananas, and avocados 

Lemon and lime juices are like an anti-aging cream for some fruits. A natural preservative, the acid in these juices helps inhibit8 the growth of bacteria, meaning they will  brown less quickly.

  • Apples: Mix lemon, lime, or even pineapple juice9 with water and submerge the apple slices in the liquid in a sealed container. 
  • Bananas: Once peeled, squeeze lemon/lime juice on top to slow down browning. Bonus tip: To keep whole bananas from browning, wrap Duct tape or cling wrap around their stems as the gas that causes bananas to brown is released10 at the top! 

Avocados: Squeeze that citrus11 over your sliced avocado to keep it from browning for at least a day. This goes for guacamole, too! Bonus tip: Store  avocados with red onions to help prevent oxidation.

Refrigerate that citrus 

The fridge will keep citrus fresh a bit longer. They’ll remain good to eat for about two weeks in the fridge, as compared to seven to 10 days when left out at room temperature. Storing them in a dry, sealed bag12 will keep them even more fresh. 

No need to tomato toss

Tomatoes13 ripen at room temperature, so it’s best to leave them on your counter until then. Refrigerating them once they ripen may give you an extra day or two of freshness. To keep the flavor as strong as possible, it’s recommended to take them out of the fridge one to two days before you plan to eat them. 

Veggies

Keep leaves crispy

Moisture causes your salad leaves to wilt quicker, but they thrive in the cold14. Store your salad greens in an airtight container, and check them for moisture every few days, or put a towel on the bottom of the container to absorb moisture. Keep them in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator.

Display a veggie vase

Tired of your stemmy veggies wilting before you’re ready to eat them? For asparagus, scallions, celery, and tender herbs15 (think: cilantro, parsley, and mint), snip off16 the ends and store them upright in an inch of water in a glass in the fridge. Keeping these types of veggies and herbs hydrated will prevent them from wilting. Disclaimer: Basil is an exception. Keep basil out of the fridge, or it will wilt. 

Bundle your hardy herbs 

For hardy herbs17 (which includes rosemary, thyme, sage and chives), arrange in a slightly damp paper towel, roll them up, and then put that bundle in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

No mushy mushrooms

Unlike other vegetables, mushrooms are a bit tricky. The best way to keep mushrooms fresh18 is in a brown paper bag with the top folded over, stored in the main compartment of your fridge. The bag absorbs excess moisture.

The trick to root veggies

Root vegetables — or vegetables where the edible part grows underground — includes carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, yams, turnips, and sweet potatoes. They should generally be stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dark, and dry spot, like a cupboard. 

Do Good Chicken is an easy way to make a difference. 

When you know you can do better, you can do good. 

While you do your part in your home, we’re focused on our mission of eliminating food waste and combating climate change. We created a large-scale solution to food waste that’s good for your plate and for our planet. At Do Good Chicken, our chicken feed, made from surplus groceries, decreases the amount of greenhouse gases associated with conventional chicken, thus helping combat climate change. 

By being more efficient in the production of chicken and helping to end food waste, we make real chicken with a real impact: 

  • Easy accessibility. We put our chicken into the grocery stores you know, love, and shop at every day, making it easy for you to make a delicious, Earth-friendly choice for you and your family. 
  • Sustainable packaging. Our packaging is made from rPET19, otherwise known as recycled PET containers. 
  • A plan for expansion. These aren’t just big dreams. They’re already in action. And one day, you’ll be able to find our climate-change-fighting chicken at your favorite restaurants.

What are you waiting for? Get ready to toss some chicken in your shopping cart and bake up some buffalo chicken dip. Progress is for dinner.
For more tips on preserving food, follow Do Good Chicken on Facebook and Instagram.

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/lanabandoim/2020/01/26/the-shocking-amount-of-food-us-households-waste-every-year/?sh=473735107dc8
2 https://www.history.com/news/the-curious-history-of-leftovers
3 https://www.history.com/news/the-curious-history-of-leftovers
4 https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/help-around-the-kitchen/how-to-freeze-bread#:~:text=Press%20out%20as%20much%20air,counter%20still%20in%20its%20bag.
5 https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-to-freeze-summer-fruits-and-vegetables-article#:~:text=Most%20fruits%20freeze%20well%3A%20berries,to%20appear%20in%20your%20pie
6 https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/house-and-home/household-advice/a670408/ways-to-make-your-fruit-and-veg-last-longer/
7 https://homeandkind.com/the-best-proven-way-to-wash-and-store-fruit-to-make-it-last-longer/
8
https://homesteadcrowd.com/how-to-use-lime-or-lemon-as-a-preservative-complete-guide/
9
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XUZDqm46bk%27
10
https://www.today.com/food/best-tips-keep-bananas-turning-brown-ripening-t150266
11 https://www.thespruceeats.com/keep-avocados-from-turning-brown-1328686
12
https://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-way-to-keep-lemons-fresh-for-a-whole-month-tips-from-the-kitchn-144430
13
https://food52.com/blog/13796-how-to-keep-tomatoes-fresh-for-longer
14
https://thenaturalnurturer.com/how-to-store-spinach-so-it-stays-fresh-all-week/
15
https://www.seriouseats.com/the-best-way-to-store-fresh-herbs-parsley-cilantro-dill-basil
16
https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1103
17
https://www.seriouseats.com/the-best-way-to-store-fresh-herbs-parsley-cilantro-dill-basil
18
https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-store-mushrooms-1389342
19
https://bottledwater.org/rpet-facts/