How To Store Fresh Food And Make It Last Longer, According To A Chef

Groceries are expensive right now. These are the best ways to get more bang for your buck and make the most of your ingredients.
An Anova Culinary vacuum sealer and 42-piece Rubbermaid container set.

Inflation is prompting jarring price hikes at grocery stores across the nation. On my most recent trip to buy food for the month, I was startled by the sharp increase on even the most basic of goods like eggs, milk and bread. And don’t even get me started on the cost of other meats like chicken and ground beef; even the traditionally cheaper cuts are getting up there.

Due to these cost increases, I’ve been seeking out ways to get creative when it comes to making the most of the food I buy from the store. And one of those ways was reaching out to an expert in the industry to get tips on food preservation so I can make my groceries last longer.

“The things that you struggle with in food preservation are things that degrade food, and oxygen is a big thing,” Ash Fulk, executive chef at Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group in New York City, told me. “At home, you can use a FoodSaver, which will take out all the oxygen. Oxygen is going to decompose food. It allows the bacteria on the outside of the food to grow, so the less oxygen there is, the less bacteria you’ll have.”

He also recommended using storage containers that will significantly reduce the oxygen food are exposed to, so they can last longer.

“Any container that can take the oxygen out is the kind you want, and those are the ones that are going to help preserve food,” he said.

But aside from focusing on the types of containers or bags you store your perishable goods in, Fulk said the biggest tips for preserving food are to simply cook it, and incorporate meal planning into your life so you have less food waste.

“If you’ve got green beans and they’re looking like they’re about to get a little wonky, cook them or pickle them. You’ll get a few more days out of them. Turn them into something and just be sure that nothing ever goes in trash,” he said.

Below, we rounded up several items to help with maximizing your groceries and making them last longer than the amount of time it takes to check out at the store.

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Anova Culinary vacuum sealer
Also commonly used for sous vide cooking, a vacuum sealer can be used for everyday food storage. We included this one in our guide to sous vide because of its glowing Amazon reviews and 4.5-star rating. It works by sucking the air out of a plastic storage bag and then sealing the bag to keep foods like meats and veggies protected from oxygen. The Anova Culinary vacuum sealer even comes with 10 pre-cut vacuum sealer bags to get your food preservation plan started. You can buy more bags here.
Zwilling vacuum sealing starter set
This beginner-friendly meal prep set includes a pump, a medium container, a large container, two medium bags and two small bags. The small rechargeable pump makes a great alternative to a regular horizontal countertop vacuum sealer since you can tuck it away in a drawer or cabinet when you're done using it. The brand claims that using this system will keep your food fresh up to five times longer than not vacuum sealing it.
Rubbermaid food storage containers
If you want to keep things simple, there's nothing wrong with using tried-and-true plastic storage containers. These from Rubbermaid come in various combinations, including packs of 3, 8, 21 and 30. They're also BPA-free, microwave- and dishwasher-safe, making them perfect for meal prep and storing leftovers.
Amazon Basics 14-piece glass container set
This container set was one of our Prime Day top sellers for a reason. You can get it in a set of 14 or 20 pieces, but keep those numbers include the lids. The BPA-free glass set is made by Amazon Basics and features plastic lids that lock air out to keep your food fresher longer. Each set contains a mix of rectangular, round and square containers.
Our Place
Our Place glass containers
If you're all about an attractive kitchen aesthetic, these stackable glass containers from Our Place are exactly what you need for your food storage tasks. The lightweight yet durable containers come in sets of 3 and 6 and in teal, amber and clear. The containers (excluding the lids) are also microwave- and oven-safe.
Bentgo meal prep containers
Available in blush pink, burgundy and rose gold, these meal prep containers come from Bentgo, a company known for its kid-friendly lunch boxes. The trays and lids are stackable to save space and microwave-friendly to reheat your favorite dishes. You don't have to worry about measuring portions as measurements are embossed on the tray. The set comes with 10 trays and 10 lids.
A magnetic weekly meal planner
And to help with sketching out your meals for the week, use this magnetic planner that can go right on your fridge to keep track of what you need to buy, how much you need of it and when you're cooking it. The notepad comes with 50 6-by-9-inch sheets.

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