How To Make Your Fruit & Veg Last Longer - Get Healthy NOW!

How To Make Your Fruit & Veg Last Longer - Get Healthy NOW!

Meeting that elusive 5-a-day would be easy - if only we knew how to make our fruit and veg last longer!

The majority of us now do weekly food shops and attempt to stock up the fridge for an entire 7 days. Weekly food shops do make life much easier, saving on inconvenient trips to the shops after work, however, they're not all rainbows and sunshine.

Often, the weight of the week ahead on our shoulders, we get carried away and come home with much more than we need. Tomatoes, kale, cherries, carrots, aubergines...before you know if you've bought enough fruit and veg to fill greengrocers, and so begins the race against time to use it up before it all goes off.

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Reduce food waste by working with what you have

One of the main reasons the need to make our food 'last longer' even exists, is because we buy too much in one go. Instead of finishing off our leftovers - that half squash, lone carrot and a handful of green beans - we rush to the store to 'restock'.

If you really want to make your produce last longer, use up what you have first. This often means being inventive, substituting ingredients in recipes and generally having a little 'fun' with your cooking, but hey, isn't that what it's all about?

What is local produce & why is it the best option?

Taste the rainbow!

When the time arrives that you do need to stock up, consider where you're buying from. Yes, the supermarket is the most convenient option, but is it the most ethical? Are you getting the best value for your money?

Supermarket shelves are, in general, stocked with lower quality fresh produce than that of a local farm shop. This is for two main reasons:

  1. The produce is often heavily treated with pesticides, which have undetermined effects on our health.
  2. The produce you see on the shelves often comes from abroad. It may have been harvested weeks ago before appearing in the supermarket, losing some of its shelf life and nutrition during this time.

Go to your local greengrocers, and be greeted with a rainbow of fruit and vegetables that have come straight from the farm. It will be organic, last longer and you'll be supporting the local community in the process - a clear winner.

The benefits of making a shopping list

shopping list to reduce food waste
Get addicted to list making!

Why do we enter the shop perfectly calm, the simple task of food for two to buy, and leave with a trolly full with enough food for 6 family members during a snowstorm?

It's from lack of planning. Without a list of food to buy or even some awareness of how many meals need preparing over the next seven days, anything and everything starts to look appealing. We become a bit of a Madeliene Shaw and start to throw all kinds of wacky ingredients into our trolleys, disregarding the fact that after work we don't want anything but sofa, tea, food and bed - in that order. 

From now on, don't try and tackle the weekly shop until you've got a list. The list can be as simple as the number of times you will need to eat at home or take things from home to eat elsewhere over the next week.

Even this simple task will ensure you don't get over-ambitious with your trolley filling. If you're only around for 4 breakfasts that week and look down to find a bag of nutty muesli, coco pops and bran flakes having miraculously made their way into your trolley, you'll realise this is a problem - you'll be forced to choose. Plans make us choose - wisely, in general.

If you want to make a more extensive food list that will help you save money and waste less on your weekly shop, check out my guide to meal prep.

Now we've covered the problem of over-buying, let's look at making the fruit and veg we do buy last longer.

1. Store fruit & vegetables as soon as possible

put fresh ingredients away quickly to avoid spoiling
Get those ingredients put away - pronto!

Driving back from the supermarket on a lovely Summer's day may tempt you to stop off at the pub - think of your fruit and veg! Fresh produce will not keep well left in the back of your car, especially if the sun is beaming down on it.

Heading straight home after a supermarket shop to unload your bags is paramount in making your fruit and veg last longer. If this really isn't possible, pack cool bags packed with ice packs into your boot before you leave. Park in shaded areas, and store the bags out of direct sunlight to keep your shopping fresh.

2. Keep vegetables fresher for longer by removing their stalks

The leafy stalks on your beetroot may look awfully farmer's market chic, but they won't do beetroot bulbs any favours. Stalks draw up any moisture from the roots of your vegetables, leaving them dry, dehydrated, and wrinkled.

To avoid this, cut any stalks off of your veg before storing them. This will help make your vegetables last longer.

3. Avoid storing food in certain areas of the fridge

Depending on how well your fridge functions, you may find some areas are colder than others. It's not uncommon to occasionally find ice inside, especially if the temperature is too low.

Some vegetables, such as salad leaves will turn bad in such areas, as they will absorb the moisture and go soggy - not exactly ideal ingredients for the crisp Summer salad you had in mind!

Pay attention to where you store your fruit and veg if you want to prolong its shelf life.

4. Use the most perishable foods first to prevent food waste

soup with leftover veg
Knock up a vegetable soup to use up perishing foods.

After a long day at work, all you fancy is some quick courgetti spaghetti and pre-made meatballs. You walk into the kitchen, mouth watering, and see that dreaded butternut squash on the counter- you know, the one you were meant to make some sensational, saffron, steak and cinnamon stew with?

The butternut squash is looking a bit worse for wear - it really needs using today. This is where you compromise. There's no need to go whole-hog and make the stew, but swap your courgetti for butternut squash spaghetti, instead. It may take a little longer to peel, but you'll have used up a great squash that would otherwise have rotted. Preventing food waste sounds like a 'good deed for the day' to me.

6. How to keep cut avocado & apples from going brown

Avocado on toast doesn't look so great when it's brown in colour. A simple trick to prevent this from happening is adding some acidity, in the form of lemon juice.

Spritzing a bit of juice over the exposed fruit surfaces will help it keep fresher (and greener) for longer.

7. Revive salad leaves with this food hack

Salads are bad enough, but soggy salads? Gross.

If you're faced with a bag of limp-looking greens, you can revive them with a quick, 'cold bath.' Cut off any really brown or soggy leaves, fill your clean sink or a large container with cold water, and throw the salad in. Give it a gentle stir and leave to sit for at least twenty minutes.

Dry the leaves with some paper towel, and they'll be fresh and good to eat in time for lunch - no excuse to opt for that burger, then!

5. Why you need to keep your fridge clean

keep your fridge clean to make food last longer
Clean fridge = prolonged fruit & veg life.

A bit of carrot dryness is bearable, but when fluff appears, there's no salvaging them. In order to stop fruit and vegetables from going mouldy, make sure your fridge is clean.

There's no need to completely disinfect every day, but once a month, when it's more-or-less empty before your weekly shop, wipe it down with hot, soapy water. In the meantime, wipe up spills and splashes. This will prevent the transferring of bacteria from fridge shelves to food, so there'll be less chance of mould growth.

9. Throw rotten items away immediately to prevent bacteria transfer

Just as a dirty fridge will lead to bacteria transfer to your fruit and veg, mouldy food will do the same.

Don't ignore the stench flooding from your fridge on every open - to make fruit and veg last longer, remove any food that goes bad immediately. Fail to do so, and bacteria will spread to your fresh produce.

10. Separate certain fruit & vegetables to prevent them from spoiling

The trick to prolonging the life of fruit and vegetables is knowing which ones to separate.

When certain foods ripen, they give off a gas called ethylene. Ethylene gas, when in contact with other fruit and veg, causes it to over ripen, turning it soft and spotty.

This is easily prevented, it's a simple matter of separating the ones that give off ethylene, such as bananas, mangoes and tomatoes, from those that are ethylene-sensitive, such as apples, broccoli and green beans. For a full list of Ethylene and non-ethylene-producing foods, take a look at Real Simple's list.

8. Make bananas last longer by wrapping ends in cling film

slow down ripening of bananas to make them last longer
How do you like your bananas?

I'm a speckled-brown banana lover myself, but I know many people prefer them bright yellow. To keep them this way, a great food hack is to tightly wrap the ends (the brown bit where the bananas join) in cling film. This will make them last much longer.

Alternatively, if you're like me and actually want to speed up the banana ripening process, place them in a brown bag.

Two easy food hacks to get your bananas just as you like them!

11. Store onions in pantyhose

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to keep fresh, providing you do it right! Store onions in pantyhose, and you'll be able to use them for up to six months.

Grab a pair of strong, clean or new tights and gently drop your onion down to the foot end. Tie a knot above it, then add another onion, knot, and so on. Tie your onion chain somewhere dry and dark.

Using this method allows the onions to breathe, prolonging their shelf life. Best of all, they're really easy to access - just cut underneath the knot when you want to release one.

12. Make mushrooms last longer by storing them in brown bags

Some vegetables like a humid environment, whereas mushrooms fair better where it's dry. Store them in a brown paper bag in your fridge, and the paper will absorb any excess water, preventing it from reaching your mushrooms.

14. Store salad leaves in a container with a paper towel

Salad leaves are one of the most difficult things to keep fresh. Although the packets claim they'll keep for a week, once open it's a different story.

To make your open salad bag last as long as possible, wash, dry and store alongside a paper towel in an airtight container. Salad leaves don't take well to humid air. By placing a paper towel in with them, it will absorb all that excess moisture, leaving salad crisp and dry.

13. Make cut vegetables last longer by storing them in water

make cut vegeatbles last longer by storing in water
A splash of water is all you need.

If you're only cooking for one, you'll use half vegetables all the time - don't let the other half go to waste.

Cut root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips can be difficult to keep fresh, but it's not impossible. They will quickly start to go dry and lose flavour if you don't store them properly.

Keep cut pieces submerged in fresh water in your fridge to prevent this from happening. The water will ensure they don't dry out, and they'll be fresh for use next time you cook.

15. Where to store fruit & veg to make them last longer

Inconveniently, each fruit and vegetable reacts uniquely to different climates, so it's important to get to know what they like best if you want to prolong their shelf life.

Some vegetables, such as potatoes and squash, fair best when kept on the countertop or at room temperature, while others, such as berries, may spoil if left here overnight.

For a comprehensive list of what fresh produce to store where, head over to the Mint Life site.

16. Wrap celery in aluminium foil to prolong its life

Celery - the one food that takes more calories to eat than it contains. It also seems to brown as soon as you get it home.

The trick to tasty, crunchy, fresh tasting celery it to wrap the individual stick in aluminium foil. This food hack has a record of prolonging life for up to 2 weeks - impressive stuff!

17. Store potatoes with apples to prevent them from sprouting

Turns out 'an apple a day' isn't just beneficial for our health, but our potato's shelf life too.

The ethylene gas that apples give off is thought to prevent your potatoes from sprouting and help keep them fresh for longer. This isn't just any old questionable food hack either, it's actually been proven.

During a test, apples stored alongside potatoes remained firm and sprout-free for an impressive eight weeks.

18. Make berries last longer by rinsing them with vinegar

Wash berries with vinegar to prolong their life
Keep your berries nice & bright.

Would you like some vinegar with those berries, madam? Before you answer, it may interest you to know that vinegar can extend the life of your strawberry salad.

By washing raspberries, strawberries and other berries in 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups water before storing, they'll stay fresher for longer.

The acidic taste won't linger - promise!

Start putting some of these food hacks into practise, & you'll be amazed how long your fruit & vegetables last.

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Majen on May 19, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Don't ask me why, but a piece of previously washed coal left in a bowl/ container with a weary lettuce brings it back to life. It works .

    1. Author Stephanie C on May 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Hi Majen. What a peculiar tip - how did you discover this? Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Author Sandy on May 20, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Hi Stephanie I am a little confused. In hack no. 10 you say that apples, along with broccoli and green beans do not give off ethylene gas. Yet in no.17 you advise keeping an apple with potatoes to prolong their life because apples give off ethylene. Which is right?

    1. Author Stephanie C on May 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Hi Sandy. I'm sorry about the confusion. Apples DO in fact give off ethylene gas, however, they are also ethylene sensitive. This means that they will still over-ripen easily if kept alongside other ehthylene-producing fruits & vegetables. I hope this helps. :)

  3. Author Barbara Harding on May 21, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Thank's for this info, I am ashamed to say that I am forever throwing away fruit and veg and just going out and buying more. With prices going through the roof right now, I know it's time to make the big change. Waste not want not!

    1. Author Stephanie C on May 22, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Hi Barbara. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Don't fret - we're all guilty of throwing things away from time to time. With a little practice, you'll find you're able to use everything and anything that's left in your fridge! :)

    2. Author Julie featherstone on June 14, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Hi, hope you could help me a bit.? My partner will not eat any foods that are mashed/creamed, ANY sauces either on the side or on his meal, i carnt even have lasagne of any description as he says it makes him feel sick, he wont tolerate melted cheese in any shape or form! E He even even wkng eat a gravy meal off a dark plate even though he he obly has a trickle of gravy on his meat!!!! SO any ideas please? He a traditional food man and im running out of meal plans. Thankyou for your time and patience reading this, Julie☺

    3. Author Stephanie C on June 21, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Hi Julie. Wow - it sounds like you've got your work cut out! What kind of ideas are you looking for exactly? Could you not just leave his own meal without sauce if he prefers it dry? I'm here to help! :)

  4. Author Mary Brennan on September 3, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Another way to keep fruit and vegetables longer in your fridge is to put a natural sponge in the respective drawers. A lump of coal in a bowl of water with lettuce is a very old tip I learnt from my Aunty 40-50 years ago, as in those days we didn't have a fridge. Keep bananas away from other fruit unless it needs to ripen otherwise it will go off quickly.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 3, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Great idea, Mary!

  5. Author alison willis on September 3, 2018 at 8:55 am

    If individual celery stalks are wrapped in aluminium foil this will not only considerably add to the cost of each stalk, but is VERY bad environmentally. At a time when most people are becoming more aware of the need to cut down on packaging it is not sensible to encourage people to put their own foil packaging on food , after taking it out of its plastic supermarket packaging. If you buy a whole celery store it in a glass of water and eat it quickly!

    1. Author Joanne A on September 3, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Storing in a glass of water is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Author Wendy Hildyard on September 3, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I use the old fashioned way of keeping celery fresh by cutting a slice from the bottom and put in a pint glass with a few inches of water

    1. Author Joanne A on September 4, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Old fashioned but effective! Thanks for sharing, Wendy.

  7. Author Carol Brown on September 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Some really good tips to follow, mine is to keep grated cheese longer in a Tupperware type box, place a folded piece of kitchen roll over the cheese before putting the lid on. This absorbs any moisture collected under the lid.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 4, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Thanks for sharing, Carol!

  8. Author Jane Booth on September 4, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I put spring onions in a narrow glass with a bit of water...they keep for ages...

  9. Author judith on September 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Remove lettuce from its plastic or cellphane shroud and wrap it in slightly damp kitchen paper - this can then be composted along with any other veggie/salad peels etc. I@m not saying this keeps lettuce fresh for weeks - they last only days in my house as I eat salad every single day - but it keeps 'em fresh and prevents the from going slimey. I keep radishes, sugarsnap peas, baby sweetcorn in a plastic box in the fridge. Celery in a glass of water, tomatoes loose in fridge, but take out however many you need for the day to come up to room temperature. Ice cold toms are tasteless. Finally - buy only what you need for a week, and et it within tht time frame.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 17, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Great tips, Judith!

  10. Author Maria Taplin on January 6, 2021 at 5:32 pm


    1. Author Joanne A on September 23, 2022 at 11:43 am

      Great tip!

  11. Author Donatello46 on January 8, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    5. Why you need to keep your fridge clean. Having cleaned your fridge with a little washing up liquid and a damp cloth, wipe around the inside of your fridge with a clean damp cloth and some of that good old standby Bicarb. Most bacteria thrive in an acidic environment, so this will help to neutralise the fridge environment. 12. Make mushrooms last longer by storing them in brown bags. If you haven’t already bought them in a paper bag, then a plastic box (e.g. the tray that pre-packed mushrooms often come in) lined with kitchen towel works just fine and always wipe them before use. Incidentally, I note with interest that the numbering on your topics puts them in a somewhat random order!

    1. Author Joanne A on April 26, 2023 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for sharing! Keeping your fridge clean is important to prevent harmful bacteria growth and maintain food quality. Storing mushrooms in breathable containers like brown bags or plastic boxes lined with kitchen towel can extend their lifespan.

  12. Author Chris on March 23, 2022 at 10:19 am

    If you only use celery for cooking, like me, then the whole thing can go straight into the freezer. Break into sticks first, then wrap altogether in a plastic bag. Take the sticks out as you need them and they will cut quite easily from frozen. Not very nice if you want to eat it raw, though!.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 26, 2022 at 12:09 pm

      Lovely idea, Chris!


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