Make Your Groceries Last Longer With These 16 Tips

VegetablesBeing frugal isn’t always about saving money at the shops, it’s about making the most out of the items you have at home. This can be done in a variety of ways, from saving on your utilities to repurposing clothes. But one of the biggest ways you can save money is by making your groceries last longer. After all, groceries are a huge part of your monthly costs and keeping them around longer will save you in the long run. Plus, it will save you time and money from all the runs to the store.

We’ve already created a post on 14 Foods That Last Longer Than You Think, but this is our list on ways to make your groceries last longer. Between the two articles, we’re sure you’ll find plenty of ideas that will save you on your grocery bills.

1. Clean out Produce

When you buy a bag of lettuce or spinach or a carton of berries, the first thing you should do when you get home is clean out the packages. This means going through each bag or carton and picking out the produce that’s gone bad. This bad produce tends to cause the good produce to go bad faster. Drying your produce off and placing it in a paper towel lined container will also help prevent it from going bad too fast.

2. Open Bags

Speaking of lettuce and spinach, if you want to keep the moisture out of your produce, but you don’t have the extra containers to store them, there’s another option. Just poke some holes in your food bags, which will allow any extra moisture to escape, and it will help keep your produce from breaking down.

3. Use Glass

Plastic storage containers are cheap and easy to find, which makes them extremely popular. However, if you’re wanting to extend the shelf life of your food, you should consider throwing those out and opting for glass containers instead. Plastic releases certain chemicals that can speed up the rotting process. Plus, have you ever seen how plastic stains? That isn’t a problem with glass!

4. Don't Store Near Windows

If you want a firm avocado to ripen, it makes sense to place it on a window sill where it gets the most light. And, just like that light will speed up how fast your avocado, mango, or any other produce ripens, it can also make your already ripe fruit go bad quickly. Keep your produce as far away from sunlight as possible if you want them to last longer.

5. Wrap Cheese

We covered this a bit in our Foods that Last post, but considering how fast cheese seems to mold, it stands to be repeated. If you don’t want your cheese to go hard and you want to slow down the molding process, butter it and wrap it in wax paper. Rind is basically a layer of wax that surrounds cheese, so it makes sense that this works. Keeping it in an airtight plastic bag will also help extend its shelf life.

6. Tie up Onions

This may sound a bit strange, but the best way to store onions is to tie them up in tights. All you need to do is drop an onion into the foot, tie a knot, and repeat the process. Then, store them in a dark pantry, cupboard, or closet. When you need an onion, just cut one off and go! Storing onions in this manner, separate, breathable, and in the dark, helps keep them longer. Some say they’ll last up to six months if you store them like this!

7. Use Aluminium for Veggies

If you’re trying to keep any greens in your refrigerator, you should consider wrapping them in aluminium foil first. Vegetables like celery, broccoli, and carrots will last up to a month when wrapped this way. However, you do want to avoid using aluminium to wrap any acidic fruits or vegetables, as they’ll eat through the foil.

8. Wrap Bananas

Bananas release a gas from their crown, where they’re separated from their trees, which causes them to brown faster. The best way to prevent this gas from escaping is to cover the crown. You can do this by wrapping the crown in cling film. This will also keep the gas from spoiling other produce that you may store near you bananas.

9. Use Paper for Mushrooms

The best way to store wild mushrooms to keep them from going bad is to store them in paper bags in your crisper. This creates a humid environment for your mushrooms, which means they’ll last quite a bit longer. However, if you purchase your mushrooms in the plastic wrapped containers from the store, it’s actually better to leave them in their original container. Just rewrap when you use some. Storing the container in a paper bag, just to be safe, can also help prevent mildew.

10. Keep Tomatoes on the Counter

Tomatoes lose moisture and take in air through the spot where they were attached to the stem. This means, you’ll need to cover that little hole to keep them from getting mushy too fast. You can wrap them in cling film, but the easiest way to keep tomatoes is to place them upside down on your counter. Simple, easy, and cheap!

11. Create a Herb Bouquet

Another piece of advice that might sound a bit strange is to treat your herbs like you would treat your flowers. When you get a bundle of herbs, dry off the leaves and place them in a vase. By keeping them in water, they’ll actually last a lot longer. And, you’ll have an interesting new edible centerpiece.

12. Freeze it

Freeze what? Everything. Okay, not everything, but most fruits and vegetables can be kept for months in the freezer. If you buy a bunch of produce for a meal and only use part of it, consider cutting up and preparing all the produce and putting the extra in the freezer. This works with vegetables and fruit.

Another item you can freeze is bread. Considering how fast bread can go moldy, this is a lifesaver. If you’re not sure if you’ll get through an entire loaf of bread, freeze half of it. Or, if you don’t eat bread frequently, put the whole loaf in the freezer and take out and toast a slice whenever you have a craving.

The only problem with freezing is that things in the freezer are often forgotten. You can leave a note on the freezer with a list of things you’ve put in plus the date you put them in to remind yourself. This will keep you from running to the store and buying more of an item that you already have in the freezer.

13. Time Your Prep

If you’re not going to freeze your extra produce, then you should plan out when you’re going to cut your fruits and vegetables. While some will stay in the fridge for a couple days, as soon as you cut into fresh fruits or vegetables, they start to go bad. It’s better to keep fruits and vegetables in their full form if you’re not planning to use them for a while. When you are ready to cut your produce, try squeezing a little lemon juice over it. This will keep it from browning too fast.

14. Clean Your Refrigerator

We all have that one container at the back of the fridge. We’re not quite sure what’s inside it, but we’re way too scared to look. If this sounds like you, then it might be time to clean out your fridge. Not only will this help you get your refrigerator looking pristine, it will also remove any rotting or molding food. This food isn’t just bad, it’s also bad for everything else in your fridge, spreading spores to contaminate other food items. Plus, having an organized refrigerator will help the cold air circulate better, which will keep things consistently cool.

15. Pick the Right Temperature

What temperature you keep your refrigerator at is almost as important as its cleanliness. Your fridge should be about 4°C. This is the perfect temperature to keep things cold, but not frozen. And it will also keep mold and bacteria from growing on your food.

16. Pick the Right Place

Where you store your food is extremely important. We’ve already mentioned that you shouldn’t put produce in direct sunlight, but there are a few other tricks you can use, too. For example, don’t store your eggs, milk, or cheese in the door of your refrigerator. This is one of the warmest parts of the refrigerator and keeping your items there will make them go bad faster. Things that store well, like jellies and condiments can be kept in the door without worry.

Fruit like bananas, lemons, melons, peaches, and pineapples are best stored on the counter. Tomatoes, as already mentioned, should be kept upside down on your counters. Also, in your refrigerator, you’ll want to keep your produce and meats in separate areas, as they can contaminate each other. Keep your produce in one drawer and your meats in another, well wrapped. If you don’t have enough space, try storing your meats in the freezer until you need them.

What is the Verdict?

MoneySavingPigHave you got any 'top tips' that you use to make your food last longer?  Or do you think you will be putting some of the above into action?  We love feedback so please use the comment section below.

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