Grocery costs are rising more and more each day. So for those of us living on a budget, how do we make our groceries, and by association, our money last longer? I’ve scoured the internet to find some helpful tips for making food last longer, stretch further and how to only buy what you need.
Before Going to the Grocery Store:
Create menus ahead of time so you will only buy stuff that you actually need.
Make a grocery list and avoid impulse buys.
Make sure to look through your refrigerator and cabinets so you know what you already have before shopping.
Keep coupons in a central place and grab them before heading out.
As Soon as You Get Groceries Home:
Go through your fruits and vegetables and remove any items that are bruised, overripe or on the brink of spoiling. Spoiled produce releases ethylene gas that causes other produce to spoil more quickly.
Berries – rinse in 1 part vinegar (white or apple cider) to 10 parts water. You won’t taste the vinegar. Drain, dry, and place in fridge. Will stay fresh up to a week longer.
Putting Items in the Refrigerator:
Put prepackaged salad into a glass container or put a paper towel into the package to soak up excess moisture. Replace towel as needed.
Puncture all plastic bags, otherwise they trap moisture which makes produce break down much faster.
Fresh herbs can be put into a mason jar or vase like flowers. Cover in plastic and gather plastic with rubber band around the stems.
Wait to slice or dice produce until you are ready to use it. If you need to prep ahead of time, squirt some lemon juice on them to aid in prolonging their freshness.
Wrap greens, such as lettuce, broccoli and celery, in aluminum foil before putting into the fridge. They can last up to a month this way.
Place fresh mushrooms in a paper bag. Plastic attracts moisture and will make them spoil faster.
Spray leftover guacamole with cooking spray before putting in the fridge.
Wrap cheese in wax paper instead of plastic wrap and store it in a vegetable drawer where it is a little warmer.
Store leftovers in clean glass containers. If you can see it, you’ll eat it. Leftovers should be eaten in four days.
Don’t put fruit, vegetables and meat in the same crisper.
Don’t place milk or quick to expire stuff in the door where temperature will fluctuate. Place these on a shelf towards the back.
Asparagus – cut stems, place in water like flowers, and cover with plastic bag.
Store bread and tortillas in the fridge.
Meat is to be stored in the freezer, but when you are getting ready to use, put it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to thaw. This way juices won’t spill onto anything else.
Speaking of the Freezer:
Ginger goes in the freezer. It will grate easier including the peel.
Green onions – wash, completely dry, chop and store in a plastic bottle in the freezer. That way you can add as much as you need when cooking and store the rest.
Place fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme in ice cube trays, fill with olive oil. Freeze and pop out as needed for cooking.
Storing nuts in the freezer keeps them fresher longer.
Freeze some of your berries and produce to use later.
Eat frozen foods within 8 to 12 months.
Keep your refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Throw out spoiled food from the fridge. Mold will affect the other food, and it’s also a good idea to disinfect the fridge once spoiled food is found.
If there is too much clutter in the refrigerator, it reduces the amount of air that is circulating and can make food spoil faster.
Buy an ethylene gas absorber for your refrigerator.
Wipe spills and messes immediately and again, disinfect the refrigerator.
Storing Items Outside of the Refrigerator:
The following should be stored at room temperature: avocados, apricots, bananas, citrus, garlic, kiwi, melons, nectarines, onions, pears, peaches, plums, pineapple, potatoes
Put plastic wrap around the crown of the banana bunch where they are all being held together. This will slow the release of ethylene gas and make them last longer.
Keep produce sitting on the counter away from windows. Sunlight speeds ripening.
Unripe tomatoes without the stem need to be placed upside down on the counter. This keeps air from getting into the small opening. Once ripe they need to be placed the right side up.
Onions should be stored in pantyhose. Yes, you read that right. Separate each onion with a knot and hang them somewhere. This way they will last up to 8 months.
Don’t store onions with potatoes, they will spoil more quickly. Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting.
Store grains in air tight containers to keep out bugs and maintain freshness.
Hope this helps.
Stretch that dollar!