- Try lining your refrigerator's crisper drawer with paper towels; they'll absorb excess moisture and keep your vegetables from rotting
- A bay leaf in a container of flour, pasta, or rice will repel bugs
- Bananas spoil less quickly in a bunch -- keep them together until you eat them
- To make cottage cheese or sour cream last longer, turn the container upside down -- this creates a vacuum that inhibits the growth of bacteria
- If you're unsure of an egg's freshness, put it in a cup of water; fresh eggs sink, while bad ones float
To read the rest of the tips, you can click on the link below.
Becoming a savvy grocery shopper is a skill well worth learning, as you will need to invest some high-quality time shopping for, and preparing, your food if you want to stay healthy.
You may be tempted to "save money" on food using the dollar menu at your local fast-food restaurant, but this will cost you dearly in the long-run as the food is virtually guaranteed to:
- Zap your energy
- Sour your mood
- Ultimately cause weight gain and disease
Grocery shopping takes more time and effort, true. But it's also the only way you'll have control over what types of food you feed your family. Learning to be a savvy food shopper is not only about the price tag (looking for freshness and food quality are also important), but, that being said, the more you can keep your grocery bill down, the better.
Money-Saving Grocery Tips
Rebecca DiLiberto shares some great tips in the Yahoo Shine article above. Among those not listed above:
- Store fresh herbs (washed and sealed in plastic bags) in your freezer. They'll stay fresh for a month and defrost instantly when you want to use them for cooking.
- Make limp celery, carrots and radishes crunchy again by placing them in a bowl of ice water with a slice of raw potato.
- Spread butter on the cut side of hard cheeses to keep them from drying out in the fridge.
- Put rice in your salt shaker to absorb condensation and keep salt from hardening.
- Store your butter in the freezer; it will keep fresh for up to six months.
What you'll notice is that many of these tips involve ways to keep your foods fresher, longer, to avoid food waste.
Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person, each and every day, according to a study published in the journal PloS One. These wasted calories represent not only 39 percent of the available U.S. food supply, but also account for approximately 300 million barrels of oil annually, with all of the environmental implications that go along with fossil fuel consumption.
Of course, wasted food equals wasted resources of all kinds, including the hard-earned money you spend on groceries that never actually reach your plate.
If you're eating healthy, fresh produce and other foods that spoil easily will be a large part of your diet. So part of being a savvy grocery shopper is knowing how to properly store your fresh foods so you actually get the chance to eat them before they spoil.
Tips for Keeping Your Groceries Fresher, Longer
First, you'll want to make sure your fridge is kept cold enough -- below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius. This will ensure food safety. Also leave enough space in your fridge for cold air to circulate. If your refrigerator is too tightly packed, your food will spoil faster.
Next, you'll want to properly store each individual food.
To best preserve beets, for example, you would remove the green tops and refrigerate the beets and the greens in separate plastic bags, while corn should be refrigerated while still in the husk to stay fresh the longest.
Citrus fruits, on the other hand, can last up to two weeks right on the counter, while garlic and onions need to be stored in a dark, cool pantry, where they will stay fresh for up to four months. Berries keep the best when refrigerated unwashed in their original container.
Herbs can also be notoriously tricky to keep from wilting, but if you keep them in an air-tight container wrapped in a moistened paper towel, they'll maintain their freshness for up to 10 days in your fridge (or you can use the freezer trick mentioned earlier).
The life of leafy greens can also be extended by as much as three extra days if you don't wash them before putting them in your fridge, while bunches of asparagus should be stored upright in the refrigerator in a plastic bag in an inch of water, or with a damp towel wrapped around the base.
One of my all-time favorite tricks, which works for most produce, is to create a "vacuum pack" to help protect it from oxygen that will accelerate its decay. Leave the produce in the bag it came in from the grocery store, place it against your chest and use your arm to squeeze the excess air out of the bag.
Once the air is removed you can seal it with a twist tie and thus minimize exposure to oxygen. This simple technique can easily double or triple the normal shelf life of your vegetables by keeping oxygen away from them.
Keep in mind, too, that surface imperfections -- like small "bruises" on fruits, a minute speck of mold on a piece of cheese, or a bit of wilting -- are typically not going to make you sick. They can be cut off and the food will still be fine to eat.
The Best Place to Buy Your Groceries May Not be Your Grocery Store …
It's worth mentioning that conventional grocery stores are not really the best places to get your food. They're convenient, yes, and they may be the only option for some of you, particularly during the winter months.
But in the long run, and as much as possible, you're better off getting your food from a farmer's market or community-supported agriculture program (CSA). The food will be local, which means that it will be fresher and also will help preserve the environment by preventing the wasteful use of fossil fuels in transportation.
This winter I am in South Florida and every Sunday morning I purchase my week's supply of vegetables at Josh's Organic Garden as it really has some of the healthiest and best looking vibrant vegetables I have ever seen -- and most are grown locally.
Food grown on a smaller scale, and especially locally grown organic food, is generally safer and more nutritious than the factory-farmed food typically sold in grocery stores. And, the fresher your foods are to start with, the longer they will be safe to eat, which means you'll probably have less waste when you buy your foods from local sources as opposed to at the grocery store.
If you really want to save on groceries and get the freshest produce available, you can even consider starting your own vegetable garden this spring. When factoring in startup and maintenance costs, a well-maintained food garden yields a $500 average return each year compared to the market price of produce, according to the National Gardening Association (NGA). So there is a definite financial incentive there.
But beyond the financial reasons, starting a garden and seeing it through to harvest is very rewarding. You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment as you sit down to feast, quite literally, on the fruits of your labor.
Keep Your Focus on Nutrition, No Matter Where You Shop
The best "bargains" at your grocery store may not always be one in the same with the best choices for your health. Watch out for sales and low prices on cheap, processed pseudo-foods and realize that even if you can get a can of processed ravioli or a bag of chips for under $1, that money is being essentially wasted because the food is doing absolutely nothing beneficial for your health.
You're better off spending that dollar on a pound of string beans or zucchini, or putting it toward a pound of grass-fed meat, than you are throwing it away on processed junk food.
Fortunately, you can still find many affordable, nutritious foods at your farmer's market or local health food store, or even at the corner grocery. For ideas, here are 10 of the healthiest foods you can buy for typically less than $1. If you want to save money, also steer clear of those precut, ready-to-use fruits and veggies, as they can cost twice as much as the uncut and unprepared versions.
Finally, you can help tweak your food purchases to get the most health "bang for your buck" by focusing on those that are right for your nutritional type. The nutritional typing assessment is now absolutely free, and will give you an idea of which foods you should eat for optimal health and nutrition.