1. Stop storing these things wrong

Reducing food waste starts when you get home with your grocery haul. Follow these chef-approved storage techniques.

  • Nuts, grains and legumes → Store in glass jars (“For maximum freshness, keep all nuts in the fridge.”—Phyllis Tanga, advanced culinary instructor, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver)
  • Cheese → Wrap in wax paper (“Leave the cheese out of the fridge! It will be ready anytime when you are back home.”—Alexandre Carrière, chef, Au Comptoir, Vancouver)
  • Greens → An open container with a dry cloth on the bottom and a damp cloth on top
  • Herbs → Rinse in cold water and wrap in a damp paper towel or cloth
  • Veggies → Take them out of their plastic bag (“They won’t sweat, so they’ll live longer.”—Carrière)
  • Berries → Soak for a few minutes in an apple cider vinegar bath (3 cups water, 2 tbsp vinegar) before drying and transferring to an airtight container (“I find this significantly increases the life of my strawberries, blueberries and grapes.”—Lawren Moneta, food stylist, Vancouver)

PRO TIP: Multiple chefs advised putting a cloth or paper towel at the bottom of your crisper drawer. (“It helps absorb moisture.”—Claire Livia Lassam, owner, Livia Forno e Vino, Vancouver)

2. Treat yourself to a vacuum sealer

Alex Kim, culinary director of Glowbal Restaurants in Vancouver, sings the praises of his low-budget vacuum sealer. “For less than $100 you can find a decent vacuum sealer these days. I use mine to keep my leftover food longer and fresher, but also for marinating steaks, pickling vegetables, slow-cooking some tough cuts of beef under water (sous vide!) and even just to organize my fridge and freezer.”

3. Keep your chips fresh with… silica gel?

It’s a trick chip-hound Patrick Do (owner, Do Chay, Vancouver) swears by. “I learned this trick recently, but saving those little silica gel packs that come in those seaweed snack packs helps with preserving chips and kale crisps,” he says.

4. Replace your spices twice a year

We don’t know who needs to hear this, but: your spices are ancient. Chefs agree that spices lose their potency around the six-month mark. “If you don’t remember when you bought them, it’s time to get a new batch,” says Rogelio Herrera, chef/owner of Alloy in Calgary. Give that bag of cumin a whiff: if it doesn’t smell like much, it’s not going to taste like much, either.

How do you reduce your spice waste? Buy in small quantities, toast before storage and store in sealed containers (toss the bag!).

PRO TIP: “Buy whole spices and grind small amounts as needed.”—Alex Kim, culinary director, Glowbal Restaurants, Vancouver

5. Level up your Tupperware game

Just as important as a good chef’s knife? A smart storage system. Here’s what the pros use to pack up prepped ingredients and leftover lunches.

“I’m a fan of using commercial restaurant storage containers at home, like Cambro.”—Chanthy Yen, executive chef, Nightshade Restaurant, Vancouver

Mason jars! Just try not to have too many different shapes, otherwise you’ll go crazy stacking and storing everything.”—Phong Vo, executive chef, Laowai and Bagheera, Vancouver

Deli cups with lids are always the ultimate to store small quantities.”—Alexandre Carrière, chef, Au Comptoir, Vancouver

6. Tomatoes belong in the fruit bowl

Wherever you stand on the “tomatoes are a fruit” debate, the fact is that these puppies do not belong in the fridge. “Tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the fridge—even the subpar winter greenhouse ones,” warns Bryan Satterford, chef/owner of Juke Fried Chicken and Chickadee Room in Vancouver warns. “Leave them out and use them quickly.” If you fail to heed his warning, prepare for a mushy caprese salad.

7. Freeze your avocados

“If your avocados are perfectly ripe and you’re not going to eat them anytime soon, then you can freeze them to prevent over-ripening.”—Phong Vo, executive chef, Laowai and Bagheera, Vancouver

8. …and your pre-chopped garlic, too

“I hate chopping garlic,” admits Lawren Moneta, a food stylist in Vancouver. “I will chop a whole bunch of garlic in a food processor at the beginning of the month, place it in a Ziploc and section out little squares before placing in the freezer. I break off a piece or two of frozen garlic when I need it.”

A garlic isolated on white background, watercolor illustration