Life Hacks to Extend the Life of Your Groceries

Many homes waste a lot of food each month, mostly because items go bad before they get to use them, myself included. Each week I throw out leftovers, produce and other foods that we didn’t eat in time. I forget that I buy things (mainly produce) when they get pushed to back of the fridge or freezer out of sight. Did you know that on average, Americans throw out around 14% of the food they buy? This adds up to a lot of money in your food budget. The biggest reason for waste is due to improper storage so the items go bad before they can use them. Instead of wasting your money, learn these simple steps to extend the shelf life of your groceries. These tips and tricks will help you get the most out of the groceries you bring home.

Cheese: When you buy cheese and go to cut it up, wrap it in aluminum foil and store in the fridge. The aluminum foil is a great way to preserve the cheese and helps keep odors in the fridge from seeping into the cheese.
Meat: Finding a great deal on meat so you can stock up is a no brainer for saving money unless it gets freezer burned and has to be tossed out. Make sure to wrap your meat up and seal it tight! Use either freezer paper or freezer style bags. These will protect it from freezer burning, and make it last much longer.

Canned Goods: Before you go shopping make sure to do an inventory of what you have on hand. I used to tease my mom for having so many cans of tomato sauce because she would forget she had them and buy more each time she did her bulk shopping. Now all these years later, I have a cupboard filled with more green pea soup and garbonzo beans than I can finish! Make sure your pantry is organized and rotate products that will expire sooner to the front of the rows. Another tip is to get in the habit of taking a quick inventory of your cupboards and pantry before you go shopping, so you don’t buy more than you need.

Eggs: Eggs are a perishable food, that should be stored in the coldest area of the fridge (which is generally in the back of the fridge), not in the door. Eggs are best if stored in their original package. If you want to check to see if eggs are good, fill a bowl with cold water and drop an egg in. If they sink to bottom of bowl or lay on side and float a little they are okay. If they rise to the top, you toss them out.

Baking Soda in the Fridge: Make sure to have baking soda in your fridge. Change it out each month, as having baking soda can soak up odors in fridge, and help preserve foods.

Fresh Herbs and Greens: Dill, celery, parsley, basil, and leafy greens. Especially when you have these robust herbs from your own garden, you want them to last but they go bad fast. Wrap them in a damp cotton cloth or paper towel and seal in a freezer bag. These can be easily thawed and used for cooking.

(See! There are some grapes back behind those leftovers that I forgot about!)

Fruits and Vegetables: 

Buying fruit and veggies when they are in season will make the shelf life longer, and of course the fruit and vegetables will taste a lot better. Check out this general guide for storing fruits and veggies.

Tips for Fruit: 

  • Don’t wash your fruit until you are ready to use them. Washing can speed up the process of them going bad and cause mold.
  • Keep apples and melons on the counter. Melons last around a week on counter, uncut. Once cut then store in fridge.

  • Keep bananas, apples, and pears away from other fruits, as they can cause them to spoil faster. You can wrap plastic wrap around the area where the bananas bunch together to slow down the process.
  • Peaches: Keep on counter, away from the sun. If you put them in a paper bag with some holes it will preserve them the most.

Tips for Vegetables:

  • Tomatoes last and taste the best when stored on the counter. Put the stems facing down.
  • Wrap asparagus with a damp paper towel and store in an upright glass with around 1 inch of water.
  • Potatoes are best when stored in a cool, dark area that is dry.
  • Onions will rot if they get to wet or cold. Keep them away from other vegetables or fruit or their odor can seep into the other foods.
  • Avocados can last for weeks when refrigerated, but if cut it will be just a day or two when not exposed to air (so wrap it up).
  • Carrots, remove the leafy tops and store in water, to keep them crisp .
  • Mushrooms should be stored in a brown paper bag so they can breath. Don’t put in a plastic bag as that traps moisture.