Making Fresh Groceries Last Longer

Every Wednesday I shop for groceries, mostly produce. While I try to use all of these up in a week, I want them to last beautifully until I use them.

Certain produce simply lasts longer if stored in certain conditions.

I knew this a little, but it wasn’t until I read The Waste Free Kitchen Handbook that I learned that I needed to store things in my refrigerator right (the know on a crisper drawer does what?!?) or that tomatoes should be on the counter unless cut. I can’t recommend this book enough, and mostly for the “How to Store” section in the back.

So…

The unloaded produce…

My new counter companions…

I put my peaches in a paper bag to soften. This is great for avocados too. Just put avocados in the fridge after they’re ripe.

Then I put garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes in the pantry. Onions make potatoes sprout, so they’re on opposite sides. I use metal magazine holders from IKEA. I saw that on Pinterest.

Then my fruit for the fridge drawer on low humidity (that slide thing means something!) with all of this, don’t wash anything until you’re ready to use it and it will last longer.

Then it’s time for the vegetables. This takes the most effort, but you can really make a “lasting” difference.

I separate radishes from their tops and placed them in a bag, actually cooking the greens in a crockpot with bacon grease for dinner. So tasty.

Lettuce gets stored in an airtight bag (the one it came in works if I squeeze out the air and tie it. It keeps longer with a paper towel on the core to keep it moist. This is all after I remove the twist tie that’s strangling the head.

Herbs can last like cut flowers on the counter, but I fail when I try this. I like the method of storing them in their bag, but keep it open and breathable. I put a dry paper towel with parsley and cilantro and wrap the roots of my green onions with a wet paper towel.

Storing my heavy things at the bottom with herbs on top, my vegetable drawer is packed to the brim, but not crushed.

There’s something so satisfying about caring for everything in your home, including the things you’ll eat soon.

Advertisements

Trunk Box

This Friday schools celebrate Dr Seuss’ birthday. I remember when he passed away. I was checking out books at our local library and the librarian, tearing up, told me he had died. I asked how many books I was allowed to check out, returned what I intended to get, and instead maxed out my loans with all Dr Seuss books. I was 6 years old.

That was my first time doing something in memory and honor of someone special. Allow me to Seussify this post.

In my car I have a trunk

My trunk can hold a lot of junk

But when I store stuff in my trunk

I do not like it to go bump bump

So I keep a box in there

A trunk box for things to go nowhere

This box helps me get to my destination

With things still in good presentation.

Pack a pie, a plate, or casserole

This box is not mere folderol

My groceries fit snug without a crash

So eggs won’t crack and bread won’t smash

A box in your trunk is very good.

Have you a trunk box? You should.

Container Clutter

Everyone has them. We all need them. The problem is how do you keep them contained yet accessible; together but compact.

Plastic containers are tricky. It’s like a puzzle. Do you match them with their lid? What about extra lids? When you store them they take up lots of room and I hate dumping a stack when I’m reaching for what I need.

Marie Kondo (Kon Mari method) says to stack the containers and lids separately; keep your lids in another larger container. I’ve aimed to achieve this and I pull out my large container holding both containers and lids every time I need a container and every time I put them away.

This means my container of containers is ever changing and in need of constant mess management, as most jobs in the home require (i.e. laundry, dishes, bathrooms, etc).

Here is my container containment over time…

Like I said, ever changing but always contained.

How about you? How do you keep your containers?

Cubic Space Saver

When I pack our clothes and essentials for a trip, I’m always on the hunt for a more compact and usable container.

Packing in a laundry basket was fun for a while, but it’s unbending, and clothes need to be in a squish-able something to fit more in a trunk if needed.

I’m fitting all of my clothes and toiletries and my kids’ too in…

My collapsible soft-sided cooler. Likely you have one of these too.

Why?

1. Because a square shape is more shape saving than anything rounded.

2. I often need a cooler at sometime on a trip.

I unzip the liner for the cooler when I pack clothes, but I keep it in the trunk if we bring grocery items back, then I transfer our stuff into empty tote bags I keep folded small in the trunk.

So here goes…

My clothes (folded vertically) and toiletries bag

Layer One

Both kids’ clothes folded vertically.

Their toiletries bag…

Then there’s still room for books and games!

And it zips!

This was super handy last summer for our beach house vacation and we needed another cooler when we moved out. Also the world’s best bratwursts are made here in West-Central Missouri and we stock up on the way home. Just being prepared.

Splinter Kit

I’m sorting through the mess that is my homemade first aid kit. 

A good kit should be accessible and I’m sure there’s stuff that needs to be pitched in the depths of this bin. 

I was keeping “like” things in plastic bags. If you’ve ever put anti itch instead of anti bacterial cream on a boo boo you’ll separate things too. 

My favorite invention is our splinter kit. Truth be told, our magnifying glass is blurry and never used, so the only things we need are the tweezers and needles. It’s so nice when someone has a splinter to not hunt for tweezers in the cosmetic bag and a needle in the sewing kit. 

After dumping or relocating some things I’m left with a much neater first aid kit. 

Lots of trash…  I’m not sure about expiration dates on medicine. I’m guessing it’s a potency thing rather than a spoiling, but when one is labeled 2012, it’s time.  Well, way past time. 

Unloading vs. Loading

Loading the dishwasher is enjoyable, maybe especially for those of us who went years without one, because of the challenge to arrange things in the best way to get clean and to stuff it to the max.  I’ll rearrange it over and over as I fill it just to get it all in there.  If there’s something just won’t fit, I may leave it for the next load rather than handwash it.  I’m that person.  Lazy?  Yeah, that shoe fits.

Unloading is another matter.

It shouldn’t be.  The dishes are clean, the work has been done, but somehow I feel less enthusiastic about putting it all away.  Laundry can be like that, (love to wash; hate to fold?) but once I got efficient about my folding and putting away I do it expeditiously.  Woo!  Making word-of-the-day proud.

So, I’ve been working on a system to make unloading the dishwasher, which is a chore, less of a chore.  I amuse myself that I’ve found what goads my laziness or at least my procrastination to do something about the full-clean dishwasher.  It’s the back-tracking that bugs me.  I don’t like opening this cabinet to put this dish in, then a different cabinet to put away that dish, then lo and behold there’s another dish to go in the previous cabinet.  As exercise though, I’m sure it increases my steps.

When you move houses, it’s most efficient to load a large moving truck with everything, drive it to your location and unload it even if you’re moving down the block.  I need to pile the dishes once, in a single location, and then put them away.  Is that why loading the dishwasher is easier as most dirty dishes are in a single location, already in the sink or on the counter?  I’m making it a habit to unload the entire dishwasher in drip-efficient order onto the nearest clean counter, then moving a whole stack to their destination.  No more two plates at a time.

First, I need to unload the sink-side drain of all dishes that were drying from the previous dishwasher load and anything that had to be washed by hand.  I need the drain empty so I can air-dry this current load.

IMG_7082

My silverware is on the door itself, not everyone’s is.  This is my step one, but if yours is on the bottom rack I would suggest making this your first unload in the bottom rack.  I try to load my silverware heads up to get clean and to be able to put them away without having to turn them.  I can do it in one trip with loaded fistfuls.   Anything else in the silverware holder that is not silverware then gets put away or put in the drying rack.

Then the bottom rack.  Why?  Because the top rack often contains plastics which retain water drops.  If you pull out the top rack, that water will drip on the bottom dry dishes.  (When this happens you can hear my disappointed “NOOOOOO!” from space.  Seriously, it’s just water, but it feels like failure.)  I have been unloading the bottom rack entirely and stacking the plates, bowls, etc into groups to be put away.  Just like unloading a laundry basket into piles by a garment’s destination.

Then I unload the top rack, which is mostly wet and goes straight into the sink-side drain to finish air drying, but the dry items join the queue on the counter.  Finally, I close the dishwasher and put everything on the counter away in the fewest trips possible.   Or sometimes I load it anew from the dirty dish piles on the counter and in the sink, and then close it and then put dishes away.  Truth.

If this seems like waaaay too much thought put in to unloading a dishwasher, you’re absolutely right.  Over-thinking it… also a shoe sized “Maria.”  Maybe simply being grateful to have clean dishes I get to put away is enough to get the job done.  Finish strong friends!!

Outfit Options or Lack Thereof

I stock my daughters drawers the same way I do everyone’s in our home, newly folded clothes to the back of the drawer to rotate them.  So it should be easy enough to just grab the first item in the drawer and put it on.  But, she likes some choices, and I learned she likes to see an outfit laid out, not separate pieces.  Plus, some tops just go better with specific bottoms.img_6722

So, I check my weather app for the week’s forecast and create 5 outfits on Sunday and hang them on hangers.  I try to use one hanger for each day, but tutus are simply hung beside a day’s hanger.

Jeans and shorts I hang on a hanger with a shirt using a belt loop…img_6720

or a tag if there isn’t a loop…img_6721

I fold leggings directly on the hanger. img_6719

Now there’s 5 outfits for 5 days and she has some choice (I often hold up two hangers, “This one or this one”), but not so many choices that it will keep her from getting ready and getting out the door in time for school.  I’m a big advocate for a lack of options.

How about you?  Do you lay out clothes for the next day or do you do it for someone in your family?