When it comes to grocery shopping and my food budget, the worst thing that can happen is not running out of food (although that's pretty close) — it's discovering that half of the precious produce I bought just two or three days ago has already gone bad. It's no fun finding mushy apples or a wilted head of lettuce that I so carefully wrapped and stored in the crisper.
I already maintain a strict food budget and am one of those people who does everything possible to preserve food — especially fresh produce. So you can bet that whatever I buy I expect to last at least a week or two if I'm taking good care of it once it's in my fridge.
On a related note: One of the things I've found from working as a nutritionist to help people eat more healthfully isn't that they're not buying enough fresh veggies and fruits — it's that they're not able to eat them in time before they go bad. (Mom, I'm looking at you!) It's happened to me, too! At least, it used to.
A couple of years ago, when I was doing some random online shopping, I remembered that I'd been meaning to check out a little contraption, which was touted for being able to help extend the life of produce. It's called the Fridge Fresh. I remembered I had read somewhere online (a health website, I believe) that this wonderful little machine extends the life of produce with a battery-operated, time-released oxygen technology system. The company calls this "activated oxygen," which basically means it helps delay the spoilage of food and keeps bad bacteria from developing on the food.
Buy: Fridge Fresh, $30 at Activated Oxygen
I'm pretty skeptical of contraptions like this; I'm not going to lie. However, I buy so much produce each week, and was always worried stuff was going to go bad before I could get to it, that I was willing to try nearly anything to prolong the life of my fruits and veggies. I bought one — and I'm so glad I did! I love the Fridge Fresh and have had it for almost two years now.
Here are the top three things I love about the Fridge Fresh.
1. My produce lasts twice as long!
Apples now last almost a month-and-a-half versus the three weeks they used to last in my crisper. Romaine hearts stay crisp a month or a little longer, although I do still wash them, dry them off, and store them wrapped in paper towels so they don't spoil as quickly as they would if I left them in the package they come in. Oranges last me almost a month-and-a-half; ditto on lemons, pears, and other hard fruits. Fresh herbs last well over a week (versus three or four days before the Fridge Fresh) if I change the water they sit in.
I could go on, but the point is that I've noticed that any type of fresh produce I put in my fridge now lasts at least twice as long — all with the help of this small, five-inch little contraption that I hardly know is there.
2. It has a long battery life.
I bought some Amazon batteries (they're great, by the way) to use in the Fridge Fresh, and learned quickly that this machine doesn't hog battery life and it really does work quite well. I've only had to change the batteries twice each year, which is great considering how much the Fridge Fresh does for me daily. This means I don't have to pay an arm and a leg to maintain its battery life — translating to even more savings to be excited about!
It's easy to tell if the Fridge Fresh is up and running by a small light on the front of it that intermittently blinks green. And it's easy to tell when the machine's batteries have gone out because the light simply stops blinking. It doesn't make any noise. (The quiet is nice, but it does mean that I have to make sure the light is still blinking each day when I open up the fridge. But that's easy because I just keep the machine on the top shelf of my fridge.)
3. My produce tastes better.
Another benefit of this wonderful little machine is that it makes my food taste fresher, not just last longer. Which makes sense, considering the technology suppresses the growth of harmful microorganisms on fresh fruits and veggies, which also helps prevent any odors that can arise. Plus, the little machine keeps some types of produce, such as apples, from releasing natural gases too quickly that makes other items spoil more quickly.
All in all, I can safely say this one little machine that I hardly pay any attention to has helped me save hundreds of dollars' worth of produce in a year's time. I think I may have thrown away three or four apples this past year, tops. And I blame that on the fact that the apples weren't fresh at the store to begin with.
Besides great food, the Fridge Fresh is the best thing I have ever bought for my fridge and I plan to always have it as long as possible. Although I'm constantly working to save money on food at the store, it's nice to know that once the groceries are home, they're not going to go to waste.
Have you tried the Fridge Fresh or anything like it? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.