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Fresh foods like leafy greens, fruits and veggies are an essential part of a healthy diet, and because they are free of nasty preservatives and artificial ingredients, they often have shorter shelf life than packaged goods.

We want to help make your fresh produce last as long as possible, preventing the frustration of watching your leafy greens wilt and tomatoes rot before you get the chance to enjoy them!  Here are our favorite ways to extend the shelf life of commonly purchased produce:

Leafy Greens

Greens are one of the more sensitive vegetables and can spoil quickly if not tended to properly.  To help extend their shelf life, we recommend rinsing and drying them as soon as you bring them home and storing them in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb extra moisture.  Additionally, you can poke small holes in the bag to allow air inside.

Avocados

Avocados can ripen pretty quickly and often have a short window of about 1-2 days of being in their prime state.  Placing a nearly ripe or ripened avocado in the fridge is a great way to slow the ripening process. To ripen avocados more quickly, place them in a brown paper bag with apples.

Berries

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These beautifully colored fruits are best if enjoyed shortly after bringing home and stay freshest in the fridge. If you find them beginning to spoil and don’t have time to enjoy them, toss them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag to use later in smoothies and desserts. Additionally, don’t rinse berries and store them wet as this makes them more prone to molding.

Onions

Onions keep best when they are stored in a cool, dark place in a paper bag.  If you use only half an onion, you can store the rest in a container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Garlic

Try and choose garlic that is fresh and firm—the fresher your garlic is when you purchase it, the longer it will last.  Garlic does best in a container that covers it from light but also allows it to breath, such as a covered wire basket or overturned clay pot.

Tomatoes

Always keep your tomatoes on the counter as storing them in the fridge causes them to lose their delicious flavor.  If you need to make use of them before they go bad, chop/blend them and make a red sauce that can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Eggs

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Storing eggs in the coolest part of the fridge (in the back) is a great way to extend their shelf life.  If kept cold, eggs can last up to 5 weeks!

Apples

Apples are kept freshest and crispiest when stored in the fridge in a bottom drawer.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro and basil, can last for quite some time by simply trimming their stems and placing them in water in the fridge.  Keep them even fresher by placing a plastic bag over the top of them.

Potatoes

Store potatoes in a cool, dark place, and try to keep them away from onions as they make potatoes spoil more quickly.  If your potato grows little sprouts, simply brush them off and use anyway as sprouting is not a sign that the potato has gone bad.

Meat

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Meat should be stored in a draw at the bottom of your fridge to keep it cool and fresh.  Make sure to wrap it properly to prevent leakage, especially if it is sharing space with other produce.

Additional Food Storage Tips:

Buy Local

When you buy produce from your local farmer’s market or take part in a CSA, you are getting fruits and vegetables that have been picked the day of or the day before.  This will give them a longer life in your kitchen compared to produce bought in the supermarket, where it often travels long distances and can sit on the shelves for days.

Be Flexible With Expiration Dates

The labels that you often see on foods such as “use by” and “sell by” aren’t actually indicating food safety.  These labels were designed for stocking purposes to help retailers with product turnover, so just because your eggs read that they should be used by a specific date, it doesn’t mean that the eggs have gone bad and should be discarded.

In no way are we recommending you consume food that has been spoiled, just encouraging you to consider that your food can still be good after the date on the label.  Use your best judgment and always smell your food if you are unsure.

Plan Your Menu

A great way to lessen food waste is to take some time at the beginning of the week to think of what you want to cook and eat in the upcoming days.  Simply think of a few recipes you want to make, create a shopping list and purchase only what you need.  This way, you know you will use everything you bring home.

For additional ways to save on healthy eating, check out our post on 10 Ways To Eat Healthy On A Budget.

This article was republished with permission from drfranklipman.com.

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Dr. Frank Lipman
Integrative Medicine Practitioner
Dr. Frank Lipman is a practicing physician, founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, and a New York Times bestselling author. He completed his studies in both South Africa and the United States, and is now a board certified internist. His 30 plus years of practice has allowed him to develop a unique approach to health that ties together ancient Eastern wisdoms and modern nutritional science.
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