Spoiled food is bound to happen if you make several trips to the grocery store each month. Luckily, there are tricks to make your groceries last longer.
After all, wouldn’t it be nice to keep produce, bread, and other perishable items with a short shelf life around for more than a few days? That way, you could save time and money.
Here are some simple tricks to make your groceries last longer.
1. Pay attention to the temperature in your refrigerator.
Warm temperatures can breed bacteria. So, your best bet is to set the temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That way, your cheese won’t be hard as a rock when it’s time to whip up your favorite dish, and your other food items won’t spoil.
2. Clean your refrigerator often.
Do you want to keep the mold and bacteria away? Conduct an inventory of your refrigerator and purge as often as possible. If you don’t do this, as items begin to pile up, it’s easy for expired food to get lost in the back and spoil.
By regularly cleaning it, you can stay organized, know what food you have, and avoid wasting it.
3. Organize your food items by category.
A clean space is equally as important as an organized space. Why so? Well, when you place the meat on the same shelf as produce, juices could migrate and result in spoilage. So, wrap any meat items, sit them in bowls, and place them on the bottom shelves of the refrigerator or freezer to prevent cross-contamination.
You can even purchase nice, clear acrylic containers and sort your food in this. This can create more space in your fridge, and it also looks a lot neater.
4. Place bread in the freezer.
When you purchase bread from the grocery store, there isn’t usually much time to consume the entire loaf before it expires. And if it sits too long and one or two slices start to grow mold, it doesn’t take long for it to start spreading and eventually ruin the entire loaf. So, consider freezing a bulk of the loaf and only leaving out what you need right away to make your bread last longer.
5. Place fruit in a cool, dry area.
Did you automatically place the bundle of bananas on the counter next to the window? The area may seem most convenient, especially considering you tend to grab one on the way out without a second thought each morning.
Unfortunately, the sunlight that manages to seep through the blinds throughout the day could ripen them up much faster. Instead, place your fruit in a cool, dry area to help them last longer.
6. Maintain the moistness of your cheese with butter.
No one enjoys eating dried-out cheese. But, once it’s cut, dryness is inevitable. That’s unless you whip out the butter and spread a thin layer on the side that’s exposed. And don’t forget to place waxed paper around the block of cheese before placing it in a plastic bag and tucking into the refrigerator.
7. Store onions in unused pantyhose.
It sounds a bit strange. But if onions are a popular staple in your kitchen, storing them in pantyhose will enable them to last up to eight months. And if you have multiple onions on hand, be sure to tie knots between each onion to ensure they aren’t touching.
8. Keep your berries fresh with a vinegar solution.
Tired of your berries spoiling just days after you purchase them? If you want to stop forcing yourself to use them right away or making multiple trips to the grocery store, preserve them for up to two weeks with a vinegar solution. The amount of solution you’ll need will depend on the volume of berries, but you should have ten parts water for every one part of white vinegar. And no need to soak the berries for hours. Dip them in the solution and remove them right away. Rinse off the solution so your berries won’t taste like vinegar and store them in the fridge.
9. Store milk on the middle shelf.
The door of the refrigerator seems to be the hot spot for milk storage. It’s easily accessible, especially on those mornings when you’re in a rush and don’t have time to move around other items in the refrigerator just to pull it out. However, the middle shelf is the optimal location as it tends to have the coldest temperature, which helps keep your milk fresh longer.
10. Freeze any items you don’t plan to use soon.
In most instances, you can safely store meats (both cooked and uncooked), vegetables, and fruits in the freezer to extend their shelf life. But as mentioned earlier, you want to stow them away by category to prevent cross-contamination. Also, be sure to label each time with the initial storage date, so you’ll know when they’re no longer safe to eat. Expect frozen items to last for up to three months before they start to show signs of freezer burn.
11. Discard spoiled produce
It’s true. One bad apple can spoil an entire bunch if it’s not discarded right away. And the same rule applies to other types of produce. If there’s a rotten piece in the mix, it emits ethylene gas that can spoil the others.
12. Avoid plastic storage containers
Need a more efficient way to store produce than in the bags it comes in? It may be tempting to grab plastic storage containers to get the job done. But be mindful that many contain BPA that poses a risk to your health. A better idea: try mason jars to store fruits and salads. The items will last longer and taste much fresher when it’s time for consumption.
There’s no need to waste money on groceries that spoil before you’re able to use them. By following these simple tricks, they’ll stay fresh longer, and you’ll keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
What tips and tricks do you use to make groceries last longer? Please share in the comments below.