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How to Save Money on Groceries
27 Ways to Make Your Groceries Last as Long as Possible
If you’re like the average American, you waste more than 20 pounds of
food every month. This is because 40 percent of the food in the US goes
uneaten1 – that’s almost half.
While some of this food is lost during production and processing (such as
produce that goes bad before it’s harvested), a significant amount is wasted
in people’s homes simply because it goes bad before it’s eaten.
Wasted Food Costs US Families Thousands of Dollars a Year…
Not only does this amount to more than $2,000 in annual losses for the
average US household of four, but all of that wasted food uses up precious
stores of freshwater – about 25 percent of freshwater use is wasted on food
that’s not even eaten!
Plus, this “throw-away” food takes up land space to grow it (which is
then doused with chemicals) and generates increased methane gas emissions in
landfills when it sits and starts rotting… it’s a massive unnecessary waste
on all fronts.
Of course, you probably don’t set out to waste food. But if you purchase
fresh produce in larger quantities -- a must if you like to eat healthily but
don’t have time to run to the market every day -- it can be difficult to use
it up before it goes bad.
Not surprisingly, these types of healthy fresh foods are the foods most
likely to be wasted. For instance, more fruits and vegetables are wasted in
the U.S. food system than are actually consumed (52% are wasted versus 48%
The good news is that there are many tricks you can use to extend the
“shelf-life” of your fresh foods; you don’t need to resign yourself to frozen
or canned alternatives!
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How to Make Your Groceries Last Longer: 27 Tips
When you invest the time and money into a trip to the grocery store, you
want to be sure the foods you purchase last as long as possible. The featured
article has compiled more than two-dozen tricks to keep up your sleeve to do
Store onions in old pantyhose to keep them fresh for up to eight
months (tie a knot in between each one to keep them separate).
Chop dry green onions and store them in an empty plastic water
bottle. Put the bottle in the freezer and sprinkle out what you need
when you’re cooking.
When storing potatoes, keep them away from onions (this will make
them spoil faster). Storing them with apples will help keep the potatoes
Asparagus should be stored in your fridge upright in a glass of water
(like cut flowers, cut the asparagus bottoms off first), and covered with
a plastic bag.
Store salad greens in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and add a
paper towel to help absorb moisture. A salad spinner will also help
remove excess moisture -- a key culprit in wilting leaves -- from your
Mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag in a cool dry place, or in
the fridge. Avoid storing mushrooms in plastic, as any trapped moisture
willcause them to spoil.
Swirl berries in a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider)
to 10 parts water. You won’t taste the vinegar but the solution will help
keep your berries from getting moldy and soft.
When storing chopped avocado or guacamole, leave the pit in, spritz
it with some lemon juice or olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and put
it in the fridge. This will help keep it from turning brown. If you spot
a rotten apple, remove it right away, as one rotten apple really can
spoil the whole bunch.
Put plastic wrap around the crown of a bunch of bananas to keep them
fresh for days longer (and be sure to store them away from other fruits,
as they emit a lot of ethylene gas which accelerates ripening).
Store tomatoes at room temperature away from sunlight, in a single
layer with the stem side up (don’t put them in plastic bags, which
will cause them to spoil faster).
Store delicate herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro and chives upright
in a glass of water (like you would arrange cut flowers) in your fridge.
Put a plastic bag over the top and secure it around the glass with a
rubber band for optimal freshness.
Bunch oily herbs like thyme loosely together, secure them with a
string around the base and hang them in your kitchen for storage.
Fill an ice cube tray with olive oil, then add chopped herbs
(rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano) to each cube. Pop one out
when you’re cooking for instant herb-infused oil.
Store fresh ginger root in the freezer. You can grate it frozen (peel
and all) when cooking.
Dairy and Nuts
Rub the cut side of a block of cheese with butter to keep it from
Cheese should be wrapped in cheese paper or wax paper, not plastic
wrap, then put in a plastic baggie.
Store cheese in the warmest part of your fridge, such as the
vegetable or cheese drawer.
Nuts can be stored in the freezer to keep them fresh longer. Ideally
put them in Mason jars that have the air vacuumed out with a Food
Saver and attachment.
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Organization, Gadgets and Other Tips
Keep milk and other highly perishable items on the middle shelf in
your fridge, NOT in the door where temperatures fluctuate.
Avoid mixing produce and meats in the same drawer, as cross
contamination can lead to food waste.
Avoid over-stocking your fridge, as a crowded fridge will keep air
from circulating properly leading to warm spots that can cause spoilage.
Avoid chopping up your fruits, veggies and meats before storage, as
this will make them spoil faster.
Glass mason jars make a great food-storage option, and you can seal
them with an automatic vacuum sealer like Food Saver for even more
Remove spoiled food from your fridge promptly to keep mold from
transferring to fresh food.
Get an ethylene gas absorber for your fridge; they’re available
online and can keep your produce fresh up to three times longer
There are many types of bags that can do this. They are typically called
“green bags.” One example would be Debbie Meyer Green Bags.
A gadget called the Herb Savor, which has a well for water and a
plastic cover to keep herbs fresh, claims to make herbs last for up
to three weeks.
Vacuum Packing: One of My Favorite Food-Storage Tips
One of my all-time favorite tricks, which works for most produce, is to
create a "vacuum pack" to help protect it from oxygen and airborne microbes
that will accelerate its decay. Leave the produce in the bag it came in from
the grocery store, place it against your chest and use your arm to squeeze
the excess air out of the bag.
Once the air is removed you can seal it with a twist tie and thus
minimize exposure to oxygen. This simple technique can easily double or
triple the normal shelf life of your vegetables by keeping air away from
them. Alternatively, you can use an automatic vacuum sealer, like the
FoodSaver available on Amazon, to do this automatically and create an even
tighter, airtight seal.
However, I nearly always store my food in quart or pint glass Ball jars.
The FoodSaver brand also has a wide-mouth jar sealer attachment, which is
ideal for sealing your leftovers, fermented veggies, sauces and other liquids
stored in a wide-mouth jar, and can keep your food fresh up to five times
longer. I regularly use it for extending the life of my vegetable juice and
making my juicing more efficient so I don’t have to juice every day.
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