Perhaps one reason we tend to eat out so often is because we don’t need to worry about keeping food in the house. It’s easy to store boxes and cans in the pantry, but when it comes to buying fresh fruits and vegetables – which we should be eating more often – we may be more reluctant. Even if stored in the refrigerator, fresher food has a limited shelf life, and if you crave variety in your weekly menus you aren’t likely to eat the same thing over and again for the sake of clearing out your inventory. Soon the fruit wrinkles and the leafy greens turn brown, and you’ve just thrown money away.

Thanks to new technologies for the kitchen, though, there is no reason why you can’t buy fresh and keep it that way for longer periods of time. Knowing how to well preserve your foods gives you the freedom to eat what you want, when you want, and not fear opening your refrigerator to a science project. The key to a fresh food home is knowing what to remove to make your food palatable.

Plastic Bags: You have zipper bags to lock in your carrots or cherries, but notice after a while they are starting to fuzz. Even though you have the bag sealed, the oxygen remaining in the bag provides opportunity for mold to affect your food. Before the rinds start to turn, too, you may detect your food tasting funny after a while – this could be the beginning of spoilage.

If you wish to continue using bags for food – a plus if you have limited space on shelves – you definitely need to invest in a device that removes the air. When packages are tight, food is able to last longer. Think about the packages of deli meats, cheeses, and other items you see at the supermarket. They are sealed to keep garden cup freshness intact, and having a similar process at home helps save money in the long run.

Containers: Plastic containers with sealing lids have been used for decades – perhaps your mother or grandmother hosted “parties” where all the neighborhood women bought such kitchen supplies. These days containers come in clear plastic so you can inspect how well leftovers and fruits have held up. One thing to note about these containers, though, is that although the lids seal tight they don’t necessarily keep oxygen out. If left for a long time, bacteria could affect your food, and you’re better off not opening the containers at all.

The best way to keep food from spoiling is sealing it with as little to no air where possible. The less air touches your food, the longer it will last.