You grocery shop with all the best intentions to stock up for a week of healthy meals *and* make the most of your food budget… only to find yourself tossing a whole lot at the end of the week. What gives? Getting the most for your money can totally depend on how well you store food — both fresh ingredients and leftovers. If you’re cooking for one or two, you probably find yourself using half of some things and tossing the rest. And even pantry foods can last longer if you know a few tricks. Here are 18 food storage hacks that will help you keep your bounty fresh.


1. Bananas: Most of the natural gases that ripen bananas are released from their stems. Wrapping them in plastic wrap can extend the fruit’s life by 2-3 days. Save those bananas from an early trash can dunk! (via Somewhat Simple)


2. Peanut Butter: The contents of that expensive nut butter have separated, and the solid half is as dense as a hunk of granite. You take to it with your sharpest knife and all you get for your trouble is a nasty oil spill. Has this ever happened to you? Store the jar upside down; gravity will do the rest. (via The Kitchn)


3. Lettuce: You’ve probably heard various tricks — use a Ziplock bag with a paper towel, use a bowl with a paper towel, keep it in a salad spinner. This one’s even easier: Store it in a mason jar; it works just as well and is eco-friendly. (via This Grandma Is Fun)


4. Onions, Garlic and Shallots: You know the plastic bins you’re supposed to use to store onions and garlic? Who has room for all that? This paper bag and hole-punch method will save a lot of space — and a lot of onions! (via The Yummy Life)


5. Cheese: Want to extend the life of your cheddar? Unwrap it the minute you get it home and rub it with oil or butter, then store it in a Ziplock bag with a paper towel. (via WikiHow)


6. Avocado: While the traditional way to store avocado is with the pit still intact, you’ll still get some browning on the outside. Instead, store it with a chunk of fresh-cut onion. The sulfur in the onion will help keep the avocado green and fresh. (via The Kitchn)

7. Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs are costly, and you always end up throwing some away. Instead, freeze the leftover herbs in olive oil in an ice cube tray. Now you’ve got a perfect portion for your next recipe, and it’s ready to hit the pan sizzling. (via Diethood)


8. Pantry Items: If you’ve had to throw out flour, pastas or rice because ants or other creepy crawlies are invading your canisters, try this trick next time. Toss a dried bay leaf or two on top and it will repel the bugs. (via Elle Decor)


9. Tomato Paste: Most recipes call for a tablespoon of tomato paste, but the smallest size it comes in is a six-ounce can. No need to toss the remainder when you can freeze it in an ice tray. Now you’ve got enough single servings for your next dozen recipes. (via Cooking Light)


10. Green Onions: Scallions are great to have around to flavor up a salad, stir fry or stew. Unfortunately, they don’t keep long in the crisper. This method gives you pre-washed, pre-chopped onions on demand. (via Daily Mail)


11. Soup: If you’re cooking for one or two, storing the leftovers can take up a lot of room in your freezer. But don’t even think of tossing out delicious, nutritious homemade soup that you put so much effort into. Freeze individual servings in disposable cups, then combine them into one large freezer bag. Now you’ve got single portions of soup at the ready. (via A Ginger Mess)


12. Apples: Once you’ve sliced into an apple, you’d better eat it fast or it’s headed for the garbage can. Save your apples from browning too quickly by keeping the slices intact with a rubber band. (via Country Living)


13. Parmesan: If you like to buy imported cheeses, but hate the plastic bags and containers they’re packed in, create your own shaker. The upcycled lids from generic Parmesan shakers fit mason jars perfectly, and they look much nicer on your table. (via Redhead Can Decorate)


14. Brown Sugar: You may have heard that a marshmallow or two packed in your brown sugar bag will keep it from hardening. But if marshmallows aren’t a staple in your pantry, one of these reusable terra cotta discs will do the trick. (via So Haute)


15. Eggs: Maybe you’re a real pioneer woman and your hens are laying faster than you can keep up with… or maybe you’re just going on vacation. To keep farm-fresh eggs fresh, freeze yolks and whites separately in an ice cube tray. They’ll be ready for cooking when you are. (via Fabulous Farm Girl)


16. Celery: Storing celery in plastic bags traps ethylene, a natural vapor that causes celery to ripen. When you store it in foil, the vapor escapes and your celery stays fresher longer. (via WikiHow)


17. Root Vegetables: Small-space dwellers will love this tip for storing veggies in bins under the bed. Crisp root vegetables love dark, cool, moist environments — it tricks them into a state of natural dormancy that keeps them fresher longer. (via Mother Earth News)


18. Basil: Basil is plentiful right now, but we’re going to be missing it in just a few short months. Keeping frozen cubes of basil on hand will be like having a time machine back to summer every time you use them. (via Back to Her Roots)

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