My grocery shopping habits over the past year, like for many others, have changed. Where in the past I may have made multiple trips to the grocery store in a week, I now only go once a week. I no longer run out for just one or two items that I suddenly realised I needed. I am more conscious of using up all my produce and have found that I am wasting less food.
Food waste is not only a financial waste, but also harmful to the environment. According to experts on land use, climate change, and sustainable agriculture, reducing your food waste is one of the best things you can do to have a positive environmental impact. Food is the single biggest component of landfills and when you toss out food that has gone bad, you are not only wasting greenhouse-gas-intensive products. You are also sending it to a landfill, where it will emit methane.
A combination of organisation, good storage, food prep and strategic usage is the difference between using up every last tomato and tossing away wilted herbs that you forgot about. When foods are stored properly, they can last weeks (yes, even fresh produce).
I’ve tried many tips and have found a set that work alongside some incredible products from OXO, Mepal, , Lékué and Scrub Buddy that have made it easier to keep my fridge organised, clean, smelling nice and keep food fresh for longer.
These tools and tips have been split into 3 categories;
- Organisation and Cleanliness
- Storing Perishables
- Leftovers and Food Prep
ORGANISATION & CLEANLINESS
Organised and clean spaces don’t only feel better, they make it easier to see what you have and find what you need.
When it comes to keeping your fridge clean, the simple rule is to wipe messes as they occur and wash any storage containers before putting them back in the fridge. The best time to do a proper clean is before you go shopping, when the fridge is at its emptiest. Cleaning before a shop also helps you see exactly what you need, so you don’t end up purchasing duplicates.
When it comes to organisation, the following guidelines make it easier to attain and keep a fridge that doesn’t revert to chaos. Store like items together, that means condiments together, leftovers together, veggies together etc. This creates zones where you can easily find what you need and helps make packing your fridge easier. Store leftovers at eye level so they are easy to spot and less likely to be forgotten. Store raw meat, poultry, and fish at the bottom and preferably in a container so they don’t leak and contaminate anything below them. Lastly, make a point of going through your fridge weekly to see what needs to be used and either prepping and freezing for later or incorporating those ingredients into the next week’s meals.
Products we’ve found to make fridge organisation and cleanliness easier:
OXO Good Grips Turntable
A turntable is a great way of organising condiments so you can easily see what you have, and things don’t get lost at the back of the fridge. The OXO Good Grips Turntable is on the larger size at 40cm, which means it can handle a lot of jars! However, you want to measure your fridge before purchasing it, to make sure it fits. I keep it on the top shelf which is where I keep most of my condiments, nut butters and homemade sauces. It is easy to turn around and makes finding (and reaching for) things easier. It also means I now know exactly what’s on the top shelf.
Get the OXO Good Grips Turntable here (R479)
OXO Good Grips Magnetic All-Purpose Clips
These large magnetic grips serve two purposes for keeping your fridge organised and clean. They’re very sturdy and I use them to close half opened packets of olives, sundried tomatoes and frozen vegetables. They’re also good for clipping up open bags in your pantry.
They have a magnetic back and can be used on the fridge door. I use them to hold up a weekly meal plan, which I make in the beginning of the week and is determined by what’s in the fridge that needs to be used up.
If you keep meat, poultry, bone broth, sauces, soups, and fish in your freezer, you can clip an inventory list to the side of the freezer that helps you keep track of what you have, ticking off as you use things up. This makes it easier to use up food before it spoils and prevents you from buying what you already have.
Get OXO Good Grips Magnetic All-Purpose Clips here (R159 for a set of four)
Scrub Buddy Hygienic Silicone Sponge
The Scrub Buddy Hygienic Silicone Sponge is a flexible and non-abrasive sponge that works well for washing glassware and non-stick cookware. It is also a great aid when washing your fridge shelves or surfaces as it doesn’t scratch the glass trays or plastic drawers. It can also be used to scrub vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes and mielies making it a multi-functional tool. The Scrub Buddy is available in 3 colours, which if bought together, one can allocate a colour to a task – i.e. Black – dishes, Red – Fresh produce and Grey – glass surfaces.
Get the Scrub Buddy Hygienic Silicone Sponge here (R79)
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STORING PRODUCE & PERISHABLES
When it comes to produce there are two rules; store each type properly and use softer produce like greens, berries, asparagus, and cucumbers first. Hardy items like butternut, potatoes, citrus, apples, and carrots can last much longer.
Mushrooms for example last longest when stored in a brown paper bag. Asparagus is best stored in a glass jar with a little water covering the stems, like flowers. Herbs are best kept wrapped in a piece of paper towel and stored in a reusable bag, like the Lékué ones below. Some produce should be stored alone while others can be stored together. Anything opened should be covered to preserve freshness and in the case of onions, prevent the odour overwhelming your fridge.
Items that have changed the way I store produce and perishables and have lengthened their lifespan are;
OXO Good Grips Greensaver Produce Keeper
The OXO Good Grips Greensaver Produce Keeper is an absolute game changer when it comes to preserving fruits and vegetables for longer. They are specifically designed to keep produce fresher for longer; and they also help you separate ethylene emitting produce from produce that is more sensitive to ethylene. Ethylene is a gas given off by ripening produce and can lead to premature spoiling.
The removable basket and the activated carbon filter promote airflow and reduce the natural gasses that age fruit and veggies faster. The basket is also slightly raised and allows any excess moisture to drip away from the produce, keeping them dry and fresh and preventing them from getting mushy. They also have a handy sliding date indicator, so you can note how old your food is, and a chart to show you if the air vent should be open or closed depending on what is being stored in it.
The OXO Good Grips Greensaver Produce Keepers come in three different sizes. I use the 1.5 litre Greensaver for delicate fruits like figs, berries and grapes which spoil faster and can easily be squashed by other fruits. I use the 4 litre for greens like spinach, kale and lettuce. I have prewashed and dried spinach and stored it in the Greensaver for 5 days, and it was as perfect on day 5 as it was on day 1! Just make sure you’ve properly dried the greens before storing them. I use the 4.7 litre Greensaver for larger veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and peppers – all things that are sensitive to ethylene, so keeping them separate helps prolong their lifespan. I also find the Greensavers perfect for storing pre-cut veggies or a head of cauliflower or cabbage that’s been cut into.
They fit inside the produce drawer and still leaves space in between to store loose produce. They are also easy to stack, so you can keep them on shelves as well.
When you buy them, buy a refill pack of carbon filters as you need to replace them every 3 months.
Get OXO Good Grips Greensaver Produce Keepers here (R419 – R649)
Get OXO Good Grips Greensaver Carbon Filter Refills here (R99 for a pack of 4)
OXO Good Grips Lemon Squeeze & Store
With a morning lemon water habit, I am always finding lemon halves scattered in the fridge. The OXO Good Grips Lemon Squeeze & Store serves a dual purpose. It fits half a lemon which you can directly squeeze into a glass or onto food, and the little holes let the juice drip out without pips. You can then store the other half of the lemon in the squeeze & store and leave it in the fridge until you need it. It keeps lemons fresh and prevents them from drying out. I store it in the side of the fridge door where I can see it, so it is not forgotten and wasted.
Get the OXO Good Grips Lemon Squeeze & Store here (R99)
Mepal Omnia Nordic Black Storage Box
These Mepal Omnia Nordic Black Storage Boxes are incredibly compact and sleek, so they don’t take up unnecessary space. The lid is completely airtight, keeping contents fresh and aromas out. They are also dishwasher safe. These type of storage boxes are most often used in pantries to store grains, pastas, cereals, and nuts; but they are also brilliant for the fridge. I like to keep nut flours in the fridge as I don’t use them often and this helps them stay fresh for longer without going rancid. I also like to have Masa Harina on hand, a special type of cornflour, which I use to make corn tortillas and tamales, and it needs to be stored in the fridge. The 2 litre Omnia Nordic Storage Box is ideal for this as it seals everything in airtight, keeps it fresh and its rectangular shape takes up minimal space.
Get the Mepal Omnia Nordic Black Storage Box here (R229 for the 2 litre)
Lékué Reusable Stretch Lid
These are flexible and reusable silicone lids that can be used to either seal a bowl of food, cans that are open or vegetable or fruit that has been cut in half. You stretch the lid over the item you want it to cover, and it is hermetically sealed which helps preserve freshness and aromas. It is also easy to wash and a fantastic replacement for tinfoil or cling wrap and works much better especially when using it to cover produce. It has been a game changer for covering melons – I have the 15cm size which works perfectly on smaller melons, keeping them perfectly fresh. I plan on getting the largest 24cm to cover watermelons, which have always been a joy to eat but a pain to store.
They come in 5 different sizes from 8.5cm to 26cm. The 8.5cm would work for covering half cut onions – which are one of the worst offenders for leaving your fridge with a bad odour. Because they’re silicone and provide a smell proof seal, they’re also ideal for covering bowls with either wet or aromatic foods like confit, salads and even overnight oats.
Get Lékué Reusable Stretch Lids here (R189 -R309)
Mepal Modula Cheese Box with Defrost Tray
Mepal’s Modula Cheese Box has an anti-condensation tray and is designed to store cheese and keep it fresh. It has a transparent lid and sides, making it easy to see what is inside. The white ring provides an airtight fit and it is both stackable and dishwasher safe. I have the 2 litre which is the perfect size and I use it either for cheese storage or to defrost meat or fish overnight. It is great if you have multiple packets of different cheeses open at one time, as it prevents mould. Unless I plan on using it within two days, I keep meat, poultry and fish in the freezer and place it in the fridge overnight, so it thaws slowly, the day before I plan on using it. Raw meat, fish or poultry should always be kept on the bottom shelf and ideally in a container so there is no leakage or contamination. As I use the bottom drawers for produce, the Modula box is perfect for defrosting meat safely or storing fresh fish.
Get the Mepal Modula Cheese Box with Defrost Tray here (R229 for the 2 litre size)
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FOOD PREP & LEFTOVERS
Keep leftovers and any food prep at eye level so that they are the first things you see when you open the fridge, making it harder to forget to eat them. Storing leftovers and food prep in appropriate containers also saves space and makes it easier to quickly warm up last night’s dinner leftovers.
Mepal Cirqula 3 Piece Shallow Bowl Set
The Cirqula collection from Mepal is designed specifically for a complete ‘circle of use’. The food in these bowls can be stored in the freezer or fridge, heated up in the microwave (without the lid) and are pretty enough to be served directly at the table.
This 3 Piece bowl set includes a 350ml, a 750ml and a 1.25 litre bowl. They are made from hardy material, a flexible lid that is easy to put on and remove and they are 100% leakproof. The transparent lid also makes it easy to view the contents and when you’re not using them, the bowls stack inside each other for convenient and space saving storage.
One of my favorite things about them is that they contain the smell of food. In the interest of research, I kept a peanut noodle salad inside a bowl for 3 days and it stayed perfectly fresh. Moreover, the fridge had no whiff of the garlic, ginger, peanut butter and spring onions in the salad. They also stack easily on top of each other in the fridge, saving you space.
Get the Mepal Cirqula 3 Piece Shallow Bowl Set here (R539)
Lékué Reusable Silicone Bags
These Lékué reusable silicone bags are a brilliant alternative to single use plastic bags. They’re made from BPA free silicone and are 100% leakproof when the sealing strip is on (there are arrows on both the bags and strips to let you know which way to seal it). Without the sealing strip, they can be put into a microwave to warm up the contents. My favourite thing about them is that they’ve got a wide bottom and stand up on their own. This means you can stack them vertically for better use of space and it’s easy to fill them with liquids like soup or sauces. The wide bottom and the fact that the top opens wide, makes them incredibly easy to properly clean. They come in 3 different sizes, 500ml, 1 litre and 1.5 litres. They also have a space to write on them should you want to label the contents. If you want to set aside bags for specific uses ie. soups/sauces/nuts, labelling will make it easier to identify.
I’ve been using mine to store batches of roasted tomato sauce (in the freezer if I don’t have plans for it and in the fridge if I know I’ll use it within a week), cut up veggies, frozen fruit for smoothies and herbs. To keep herbs fresh, wrap them in a paper towel and pop them into a Lékué reusable silicone bag. This helps preserve them perfectly and has prevented me from having to toss fresh herbs that have spoiled.
Get Lékué Reusable Silicone Bags here (R209 – R329)
Mepal Ellipse Fruit & Veggie Pot
The Mepal Ellipse Fruit & Veggie Pot is designed to make it easy to take fruit and vegetables on the go. It has a colander inside which allows you to wash berries and provides a space at the bottom, so any excess water is collected in the empty space. It also has a metal fork included making it ideal for taking to work, school or on a road trip. I use it primarily for berries and have noticed that it keeps them perfectly fresh for days!
Get the Mepal Ellipse Fruit & Veggie Pot here (R329)
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Each one of these items are an investment; they cut down on food waste and are built to last and to be used again and again for years to come. They keep food fresh for longer, which means less food waste and more enjoying the food you buy. They have all claimed a permanent place in my fridge and spark joy every time I open the fridge.
Thank you to our brand partner Edison Stone for sponsoring this feature. Edison Stone is a brand house which develops and represents top brands and products for the kitchen & homeware market. OXO, Mepal, Lékué and Scrub Buddy are part of their portfolio and are all available from Yuppiechef and other leading retailers