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8 Ways to Make Your Groceries Last Longer

2013 April 17
by Aaron

aaron_image1As a once-a-week grocery store shopper, we try and make our food last as long as possible. But sometimes – especially with fruits and vegetables – that is not always easy to do. I remember when I was single and digging myself into debt, I would purchase a pre-packaged bag of salad, take one or two servings and then a day or two later, the rest would be spoiled. I did this almost every week and never learned my lesson!

And now, with food prices rising – keeping your foods fresh and edible for a longer period of time is going to save you more money in the long run. 



I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on an article about ways to make your food last longer. And, I want to share some of those tips with you and some that my wife and I use at home. I’d love to hear any ways you employ to extend the life of your groceries too!

  1. Spray guacamole with cooking spray. I’m a big fan of guacamole. In the past, I’ve used lime or lemon juice to keep it from turning brown in the fridge – but this hasn’t always worked so well. Another thing you can do is to spray the top with cooking spray (preferably olive-oil based) to keep it fresh.
  2. Wrapping the crown of bananas with plastic wrap. You may have already been wondering why there is plastic wrap around a bunch of bananas at the grocery store (I have). But, this trick helps give your bananas a longer life.
  3. Put a paper towel in your bowl of salad. Too much moisture in your salad will rob its freshness. In your bowl of greens, add a paper towel to the top and then cover with saran wrap. This should help absorb some of the moisture, keeping it from wilting. A salad spinner can also help take out the moisture before putting it in the fridge.
  4. Pre-cut the veggies and store in containers.  This is something my wife has been doing a lot of lately: cutting up lots of veggies and then just putting them in containers, adding a little bit of water and storing them in the fridge for later eating. It seems to keep them fresher than the plastic bags (mason jars or other glass containers are preferred).
  5. Wrap celery in tin foil. While we haven’t personally tried this one – you can wrap your celery stalk in tin foil and store in your fridge.
  6. Keep ginger in the freezer. This is a tip from About.com to help keep your ginger longer: store it in the freezer in a ziploc bag. Apparently this helps it to grate more easily too.
  7. Put the mushrooms in a paper bag. I never knew this one – but to keep the mushrooms longer, store them in a paper bag and then store in the fridge. You can use the paper bag for tomatoes as well.
  8. Use old plastic bottle caps to seal up plastic bags of food. This is a great way to create the perfect seal on your plastic bag of foods: cut the top off your plastic bottle and thread the bag opening through the center. Seal it with the cap. You’ll want to be sure the goods are dry before sealing.plastic bottle top for food storage

 

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Aaron

Helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. A designer by day, Aaron was once $40k in debt. After 5 years – he dug himself out and lives to tell about it. Aaron also blogs at the StarTribune

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10 Responses
  1. April 17, 2013

    Very cool! Scallions do better with their bottoms in water. Even if you’ve used the white parts, the green parts will last longer that way.

    • Aaron permalink*
      April 17, 2013

      @Jenny – thanks for the tip!
      @Christian – agreed – love cilantro!
      @Bill – i think you need a stronger bag so it won’t rip. I don’t think you could use this repeatedly – as it probably would wear out the top of the bag. Great idea on the flowers.

  2. Christian L. permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Aaron,
    People often forget that throwing away food is like throwing away money. I’ve been buying and using a lot of cilantro lately. Apparently it helps to cut the stems a bit, put them and water and cover the leaves with a plastic bag.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. April 17, 2013

    Aaron,

    I enjoyed all these tips however the last one puzzles me? Wouldn’t the twisting of the cap rip the bag? Also would those work for the larger freezer bags to store more hefty goods such as protein?

    I know this is not a food. However with floral arrangements; if you add a little of carbonated liquid, such as tonic water or some form of lemon-lime soda they will last longer.

  4. April 21, 2013

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Certain food shouldn’t be store next to each other, to prevent rotting faster. Example: Don’t store your apples and potatoes in the same space.

    • Aaron permalink*
      April 21, 2013

      @Jennifer – good one!

  5. April 24, 2013

    If you are a meat lover, another good tip is to buy a large cut of meat then cure it yourself before slicing it up into smaller steaks and freezing. The price of large cuts directly from butchers, ranches, wholesale markets etc. should be cheaper for this method to work.

    Also, if you’ve ever bought an avocado, then you know how quickly they can go bad. Mixing in a small amount of vinegar and lemon, then sealing in an airtight container helps preserve it for use in prepared food items such as guacamole, as a salad topping and sandwiches.

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