Extending Food Life

Ways to Extend Food Life

Publish Date August 14, 2023 5 Minute Read

Extending the Shelf Life of Food: Simple Tips to Preserve Freshness

Do you find yourself tossing spoiled groceries more often than you’d like? Food freshness is a key factor in making delicious meals, and having to throw out ingredients before you’ve used them is a universally frustrating experience. The good news is there are things you can do to keep your food fresh for longer, reducing waste and saving money in the process. In this article, we'll explore various storage methods and food additives that can help extend the shelf life of your favorite ingredients.

How Can I Prolong the Life of My Food?

Proper Storage

Proper food storage is essential when trying to extend the shelf life of your food. Keep perishables in the refrigerator at appropriate temperatures to slow down bacterial growth, and use airtight containers or wraps to prevent moisture and air exposure (which can accelerate spoilage). Here are some tips to help organize your refrigerator for optimum freshness:

  • The Crisper Drawer

Your refrigerator's crisper drawer offers a slightly higher humidity level than the rest of the fridge. This helps to prevent your vegetables from wilting and drying out. Be sure to separate your veggies, since some produce ethylene gas (which can speed up the ripening process and spoil other vegetables).

  • Temperature Zones

Different areas of your fridge have slightly different temperature ranges. The coldest part is usually at the back of the bottom shelf, while the door and top shelves tend to be warmer. Place perishable foods that require colder temperatures (such as dairy products, raw meat and fish) in the coldest zones.

  • Minimize Clutter

An overcrowded fridge can impede air circulation, leading to uneven cooling and potentially accelerating food spoilage. Allow some breathing room between items for better airflow. If your fridge is consistently full, it may be time to consider decluttering and removing expired or unused items.

  • Leftovers

Be sure to cool leftovers down to room temperature before adding them to your fridge. Hot leftovers can warm the overall temperature of the refrigerator, affecting other perishable items. Put the cooled leftovers in the refrigerator promptly. To avoid temperature fluctuations, place them on the middle or bottom shelves where the temperature is more consistent.


If all your freezer’s real estate is dedicated to ready-to-eat meals and ice cream, you may find that you’re tossing more spoiled leftovers and produce than you’d like. Leftovers, meat, fresh produce and dairy can all be frozen to preserve freshness. Be sure to wrap items well, removing excess air to prevent freezer burn. Label and date packages to easily identify them later. Here are some ways you can use your freezer to maximize freshness:

  • Freezing Fresh Produce

Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen to extend their shelf life. Wash, peel and chop them into appropriate sizes for your intended use. To preserve the texture and color of your veggies, you can blanch them before freezing. This is done by briefly boiling them and then immersing them in an ice bath. Once prepared, place the produce in freezer-safe bags or containers.

  • Proper Packaging

Make sure all food is wrapped tightly in moisture-proof, airtight packaging to prevent freezer burn and odors. Remove excess air from freezer bags or use a vacuum sealer for optimal results. Label each package with the contents and date for easy identification.

  • Divide and Conquer

Divide larger food items into smaller portions before freezing. This allows for easier thawing and minimizes the need to defrost more food than necessary. It's also helpful when you want to use a portion of an ingredient without thawing the whole package.

  • Freeze Fresh Herbs

Extend the life of fresh herbs by chopping them and placing them in ice cube trays filled with water or oil. Once frozen, transfer the herb cubes to freezer bags for easy access when cooking.

Bread and Baked Goods

Baked goods like muffins, cookies or bread rolls can be frozen individually and then stored together in a freezer bag. Thaw when needed, and you'll have fresh bread and treats available without the risk of them going stale.

What Food Additives Increase Shelf Life?


Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar, is known for its antimicrobial properties. Adding a small amount can inhibit bacterial growth and extend the shelf life of your ingredients.


Salt acts as a natural preservative by drawing out moisture from food. It’s commonly used to cure meats, preserve fish and make various pickled products.

Other Storage Methods for Extending Food’s Shelf Life


Dehydrating food removes moisture, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mold. Invest in a dehydrator or use your oven at a low temperature to dry fruits, vegetables and herbs for long-term storage.


Canning is a popular method for extending the shelf life of foods like jams, jellies and pickled produce. The process involves sealing food in jars, killing bacteria and preventing spoilage. Always consult reputable canning resources for detailed instructions and guidelines to avoid foodborn illnesses. Botulism, a rare but serious illness, can occur if food is improperly canned.

How Can I Keep Food from Expiring?

Stay vigilant and regularly check the expiration dates of perishable items. Plan meals around ingredients nearing their expiration to minimize waste.

By employing these simple yet effective strategies, you can extend the shelf life of your food and reduce unnecessary waste. From proper storage and freezing to food additives and preservation techniques, there are countless ways to keep your food fresh.

Looking for more ways to keep food fresh?

Get organized with our brand-new printable weekly meal planner to make the most of your fresh ingredients, and visit our blog for even more fresh inspiration.