Gadgets that Help Reduce Food Waste

fridge police app

( How many times have you found expired items in the fridge or pantry and thought, "Oh, I forgot to use/eat that up!"? Expired foods that get thrown out are a drain on your wallet as well as a waste of the precious resources that go into producing them. What are some tools to help us busy folks remember which leftovers are still fit for consumption?

Gadgets that Help Reduce Food Waste

Smartphone App
Fridge PoliceThere are smartphone applications that allow you to set expiry dates on items you have recently purchased or opened. For example, Fridge Police on the iPhone will pop up a daily alert showing how many days you have left before a certain food item expires. The application draws from a database of foods and their suggested shelf life, and also comes with a bar code scanner function. If you often forget what pantry or fridge leftovers you need to use up, this may be one step up from the old pen-and-paper tracking system.

Herb pod
Herb PodOne of the most fragile items in any produce drawer is fresh herbs. Prepara Herb Saver Pod is a product that helps you keep fresh herbs and fragile produce (such as cilantro and asparagus) longer. It has a removable basket to allow easy washing, and the bottom stopper is removable so you can drain off excess liquid and/or refill with fresh water. The container fits in the door of the fridge for easy access.

Produce saver
Produce SaverNot sure what to do with that onion half? There are products that act as covers on the cut surfaces of fruits or veggies, thereby reducing browning (that results from oxidation) or shrivelling (from moisture loss). These products can keep the cut piece fresher for an additional day or two, allowing you to use it in another recipe instead of throwing it away. Produce "covers" are available for cucumbers, onions, apples, and tomatoes.

Green bags
Green BagsAnother type of product that claims to extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables are so-called "green bags": bags that absorb the ethylene gas emitted by some produce as it ripens. Technically speaking, the bags should work to extend the shelf life of products that continue to ripen after they are picked, such as tomatoes, bananas, and melons. Items such as grapes or citrus fruits would not be affected much since they do not ripen further after being harvested. We tried this out on our own grocery items. In my case, a cut avocado did worse in the bag; I get more "mileage" out of it by rubbing a few drops of lemon juice on the cut surface and wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap.

Vacuum-sealed containers
Vacuum Sealed ContainersYou can use containers that are supposed to optimize storage conditions for fresh produce so that it lasts longer in the fridge. They work by either keeping air out (therefore no oxygen to oxidize/break down the food inside) or managing moisture content (too much moisture causes mold, while too little causes shrivelling/wilting).

The Bottom Line

If your goal is to throw away less food, the above gadgets can help. But remember that we are talking about a shelf-life extension of days, not weeks. Fresh fruits and veggies that are stored for an extended period of time can lose a significant load of nutrients, so it’s best to purchase only what you can reasonably consume within days.

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