Make Your Groceries Stay Fresh and Last Longer

It is easy to forget about your groceries until they start going bad. Storing your groceries after shopping brings up a lot of key concerns, especially when it involves products with a short shelf life.

It is also a hit to your wallet when groceries start to go bad before you have had a chance to make good use of them. Fortunately, there are a few simple tasks you can do on a regular basis that will increase the shelf life of your groceries.

Most of the tips for making your groceries last longer are not expensive to implement, and they do not add significant time to your weekly to-do list. Consider that the few minutes you spend on these routine tips can add up in savings over the course of the year. Use the following 10 tips to help your groceries last longer and make food expenses lower.

1.     Store Dry Foods in Air-Tight Containers

Grocery items such as cereals should be stored in air-tight containers. The quality of the container you use for storage is significant, especially if you want to maintain the quality of your food. Air-tight containers help to keep the bacteria out, prevent moisture and minimize the growth of molds. There are a number of airtight containers that are microwaveable and refrigerator friendly that you can use to store dry food items, making the containers dual purpose.

2.     Wrap Foil Around Refrigerated Vegetables

Wrapping vegetables in foil and keeping them in the refrigerator makes some vegetables, especially broccoli and celery, last up to a month longer. The foil helps veggies stay crisp for a longer period of time, mostly three or four weeks. Remember to pinch or fold the edges to keep the contents so they are air-tight. Foil serves as a good moisture barrier and lessens the effect of freezer burn on your vegetables if you decide to stick them in the freezer.

Related Article: Hosting a Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

However, not all fruits and vegetables are kept fresh using aluminum foil. It is not the perfect choice for every storage need. Foods with high acidity, such as tomatoes, react with foil and end up giving the stored vegetables a different taste. Low-acid vegetables such as onions and carrots, as well as fruits like apples and melons are well suited to wrapping in foil.

3.     Store Certain Groceries Separately

Be cautious which grocery items you store together, since not all fruits and vegetables can be stored in the same compartment of the refrigerator. Some fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening of other fruits and vegetables placed close to them. These include popular produce like apples, grapes and tomatoes.

You can purchase vegetable storage bags and containers designed to absorb gases certain fruits and vegetables produce. This simple trick can help keep your produce fresh up to four times longer. Potatoes last longer when placed next to apples because the ethylene gas produced by apples prevents potatoes from going bad.

4.     Keep the Fridge Clean and Set It to the Right Temperature

The modern miracle of refrigeration plays a fundamental role in keeping your groceries fresh no matter the time of year. The fridge is an essential household element and keeping it clean and organized is crucial.

Food needs to be stored at cold temperatures to prevent the growth of microbes and bacteria. Higher temperatures make your groceries spoil faster and can lead to food safety hazards. When organizing your grocery items, refer to your refrigerator’s manual or to the markings in the fridge that let you know how you should store your food. Finally, make sure to keep your fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to stop the spread of bacteria.

5.     Store Rooted Veggies in Pots

Root vegetables usually taste better when freshly harvested, so you should store them properly to maintain the garden-fresh taste and help them last longer. Most vegetables need exposure to sunlight, with the exception of root crops and lettuce. Putting your root vegetables in pots on a window sill and daily spritzing them can make them taste as if they have been freshly harvested.

6.     Store Onions in a Pantyhose

Pantyhose provide a great way to store onions, and they can keep your onions edible for up to six months. Most onions stored in pantries or even in refrigerators do not last a long time. When storing your onions in the pantyhose, ensure the onions are dry. Then tie a knot in between each one to keep them separate and well-spaced. Last, suspend them in the air to maximize their shelf life. Install a hook inside your pantry to hang them on to keep them safely stored.

7.     Use Mason Jars for Storage

Glass canning jars, often referred to as mason or ball jars, provide an easy way to keep your groceries organized in the kitchen. They also help you save money by making fresh herbs last longer. Mason jars help in keeping bulk grains fresh and visible for easy identification. Most canning jars cost more than plastic storage does, but they have the added advantage of lasting longer and do not deteriorate over time.

8.     Treat Herbs Like Flowers

Place your herbs in a jar of water and loosely wrap plastic wrap over the top before putting the jar in the fridge. Asparagus and green onions last longer when stored upward in a tall jar of fresh water. Always remember to cut off the ends of an asparagus bunch and put them in a mason jar filled with water. Then, wrap the tops with a paper towel.

9.     Store Your Mushrooms in a Paper Bag

If stored correctly, mushrooms stay viable for up to seven days. The easiest way to do this is by putting unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag, folding the top of the bag over and then sticking the bag in the main compartment of the refrigerator.

Paper bags absorb excess moisture released by the mushrooms, thereby preventing them from getting soggy and moldy. Note that the crisper drawer of the fridge is too moist, and you should not store mushrooms in it. Also, try to avoid placing mushrooms near food with strong odors because they will absorb those odors.

10. Be Vigilant

Each time you open the refrigerator door, see if there is one thing that might need to be thrown out. Even the best grocery storage tips cannot prevent food from eventually reaching its expiration date. However, allowing spoiled food to linger in your refrigerator can speed up decomposition for other food stored in there as well. This is due to the additional gases and spores given off by food that has been allowed to become moldy or rotten.

Related Article: Budgeting Advice for Families

It might also interest you: