Storing pre-cut vegetables can up your cooking game in a big way. With prep already done, you're recipe-ready and can go ham inventing new dishes or rekindling an old kitchen flame. Plus you'll be covered when it comes to snack-time cravings. Veggies are so easy to store in the fridge once they're chopped, and plenty of them freeze well too. Freezing can help you preserve the bounty of seasons past, which is a great excuse to over indulge at your local farmers' market .
Follow these tips for storing cut veggies for the best flavor and texture
Stick to the rules
If there's a veggie you don't see in this list, chances are it will act a lot like a similar vegetable in storage. There are some exceptions, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow.
What is blanching?
If you're not familiar with blanching, let's get there. Many of the veggies on this list should be blanched before storing. Blanching is when you submerge them in boiling water for a very short period of time — 30 seconds to 5ish minutes — and then immediately move them to an ice bath. (Taste test to make sure they're cooked to your preferred doneness.) Once they've cooled, transfer to paper towels to dry and drain excess moisture.
Lettuce, spinach and similar greens
You're probably going to want to store greens in the refrigerator. So cut or tear the leaves from the end of the head, if your greens have a head. Then wash and dry the leaves thoroughly, either by hand or in a salad spinner, making sure to remove any dead or wilted leaves. Once they're dry, place in a thin layer on top of a few paper towels. Gently roll the towels as if you're making a jelly roll cake, except the cake is the paper towel and the filling is the greens. Would not recommend taking a bite here. Secure with a rubber band.
Storing leafy greens in the freezer isn't a great idea because they'll get soft and mushy. But freezing wilted greens like cooked kale, spinach or beet greens, totally works. Just make sure to drain thoroughly and then you can store in freezer bags for up to a year.
You only really need to store the hearts. Sprinkle those with a little lemon water and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Asparagus likes to be on display, so trim the ends and then place in a jar or container of water. Place a plastic bag loosely on top of the stalks so that they don't absorb scents from other foods in the fridge.
If you want to freeze your asparagus, cut it up and then blanch, drain completely and store in a freezer bag.
Remove the root, leaving 1-2 inches of stem. If you're keeping the greens, you can store them just like lettuce, but they do have a short fridge life. For the rest of the beet, cut it up and store in the fridge inside a container lined with a moist paper towel.
To freeze, place the cut beet pieces in a freezer bag. They can be cooked or uncooked, but pre-cooking will make for a better texture later. There's no need to pre-cook if you'll be using them in something where texture doesn't matter, like in a soup or a cake.
Once it's cut, broccoli likes to live in between lightly moistened paper towels inside the refrigerator. It needs to breathe, so don't put it in an airtight container.
To freeze, blanch the broccoli, then drain thoroughly and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Half or quarter the sprouts, then store them just as you would cut broccoli (they can be refrigerated or frozen).
Once cut, cabbage should be wrapped tightly in plastic and put in the refrigerator. It doesn't last very long, so use within a few days. Freezing cabbage isn't a great idea, but it can be pickled for longer keeping.
Fresh cut carrots can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator, but they do get dry. To combat that, either wrap them in moist paper towels or store in cold water. You can loosely cover the water to ensure no debris makes its way inside, but don't use an airtight container.
To freeze, blanch carrots, drain thoroughly, and store in freezer bags for — you guessed it — up to a year.
Store cut cauliflower the same way you would cut broccoli, but know that cauliflower is a little higher maintenance. It loses its flavor quickly once cut (unless it's frozen) and also absorbs other flavors in the refrigerator. Try to include it in a recipe as soon as possible.
Whether refrigerating of freezing, treat your celery just like carrots. If it's been frozen and thawed, though, celery loses its crisp texture, so if you're doing that, try using it in a recipe where texture isn't important, like a stew.
Wrap cut cucumbers in an airtight bag or tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Don't freeze these.
Eggplant really doesn't age well, but this will work in a pinch: Layer sliced eggplant in a container between sheets of paper towel and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reduce browning, try brushing a few drops of lemon juice on top.
If the post-thawed texture isn't important, freezing is an option here. Do this by blanching slices of eggplant, draining thoroughly and storing in freezer bags for up to one year. It'll do best in recipes that can handle a mushier texture, like baba ghanoush or ratatouille.
Place cut garlic in an airtight container right after it's cut. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To freeze, wrap the garlic tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place in an airtight freezer bag. It'll keep this way for up to a year.
These are easy: wrap green beans with plastic wrap or store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
To freeze, blanch cut green beans, drain thoroughly and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Keep leeks contained so nothing else absorbs their smell. An airtight container or bag is perfect, and they can be stored for 3 to 5 days.
To freeze, blanch leeks, drain thoroughly and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Here's a rule-breaker: Don't cut okra in advance since it can get messy and ooze a bit. Keep it just as-is until it's time to cook.
If you'd like to freeze it, blanch okra before slicing. Once blanched and sliced, store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Cut onions and place in an airtight container as soon as possible. Onions can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
To freeze, wrap the onions tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place in an airtight freezer bag. Just like most of our other veggie friends, they'll keep for up to a year.
Fresh cut parsnips can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator, but they do risk getting dry. To prevent this, either wrap them in moist paper towels or store in cold water. Like carrots, you can loosely cover the water to ensure no debris makes its way inside, but don't use an airtight container.
To freeze, blanch cut parsnips, drain thoroughly, and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Store cut peppers in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. They do risk getting a little slimy, so wrap them in a sheet of paper towel to prevent that.
If you'd like to freeze, place sliced pepper in a single layer on a plate or cookie sheet, freezing until crisp. Once they're crisp, you can transfer to a freezer bag and store for 6 to 8 months.
Cut potatoes and store in water for up to 1 day in the fridge. Keep them loosely covered.
To freeze, blanch cut potatoes, drain thoroughly and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
Fresh cut radishes can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator. To prevent them from drying out, either wrap in moist paper towels or store in cold water. You can loosely cover the water to ensure no debris makes it way inside, but don't use an airtight container.
Let us spare you the pain: Radishes don't freeze well.
Yep, it's a vegetable! And since its growing season is so short, freezing it is a great way to ensure scrumptious homemade pies all year long. If you're planning to use within the week, you can store cut rhubarb in the fridge wrapped in plastic or in a container that breathes for up to 5 days.
If you're like us and looking to preserve rhubarb for the rest of the year, it's best to freeze. Place the slices of rhubarb in a single layer on a plate or cookie sheet and freeze until crisp. Once crisp, transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers and store for 6 to 8 months
Once it's cut, squash can be stored for 3 days in the fridge if it's tightly wrapped in plastic. Squash is another vegetable that absorbs flavors and scents, so keep it away from strong smells.
It's best to cook squash pieces before freezing them. Cook or bake until softened, allow to cool completely and place in freezer bags or airtight containers. Cooked cut squash will keep for 6 to 8 months.
We know, we know: Tomatoes aren't vegetables. But since they're so commonly used with vegetables, they're worth including here! Cut tomatoes really don't do well in the refrigerator, so avoid that. If you have cut a portion of a tomato, you can likely salvage the rest by placing it, cut side down, on a plate, and covering loosely. Keep it this way, at room temperature, for up to a day.
Tomatoes are no friend of the freezer, sliced or unsliced.
Cut turnips can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored in the fridge for 2 to 4 days. To keep them from browning, mist lightly with lemon juice.
To freeze, blanch cut turnips, drain thoroughly and store in freezer bags for up to a year.
To freeze, blanch cut zucchini, drain thoroughly, and store in freezer bags for up to a year. It's best to remove seeds before doing this.