When money is tight, wasting things like food, is simply not an option. Not being wasteful sounds great, in theory. Sometimes life happens and so does spoiled milk. There are just times when certain foods go bad before they can be opened, or used up. There are some things you can do to help your groceries last just a little bit longer.
*Airtight storage containers
Store leftovers and other foods in containers that have airtight lids. By doing this, you will prolong the life of the item being stored. Poor storage of items can cause bacteria to grow faster and spread to other foods, making them spoil faster as well.
*Do not open until ready for use
For example, avoid cutting a fruit or vegetable until you are ready to use it. Do not take the plastic wrap off of lettuce until you are ready to eat it. This idea goes for items like milk, meats and cheeses as well. Once you open a perishable food item, the clock starts ticking and you have a limited amount of time to use it before it spoils.
*Avoid hiding items
Know what is in your pantry and refrigerator at all times. When items get pushed out of the way or hidden in a corner, it becomes easy to forget it is even there. One of the biggest, and costliest, mistakes people make is forgetting they have something until it is too late and it must be thrown away.
*Check expiration dates
Always check the dates on perishable items like dairy products (milk, cheeses, sour cream, etc.), meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and breads. Check the dates on all of your grocery items, even condiments like ketchup and salad dressings. Throw out anything that is expired. Using expired foods can make you sick.
*Use oldest items first
Unless they are expired, use items that have the closest due date. This will help avoid having any items go bad on the shelf or in the fridge. Try organizing your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator by putting oldest items up front for immediate use.
Try cooking perishable items, like meats, and then freezing for later use. Be sure to store the foods in containers or bags that have a good seal and are specifically for freezer use. This idea can also work for certain fruits and veggies too. You can save foods from expiring, plus save yourself a step or two by having these items pre-cooked. When you are ready to use an item, simply thaw it out and you are one step closer to having your dish prepared!
*Buy appropriate sizes
The adage “Bigger is better”, is not always the case with certain food items. For example, if you buy a gallon of mayonnaise simply because it is on sale, and then throw out half of it because you do not use mayonnaise very much, you wasted your money. Avoid buying a gallon of milk if you only manage to use a quarter of it before it expires. Buy perishable items in quantities that you can actually use before the due date.
The key to making groceries last longer is proper storage. The other thing is to buy what you can consume right away, in perishable items. Buying in bulk is great for dry pastas and canned goods, but not so much for dairy products or items that do not freeze well. Once again, know what you have because “Out of sight, out of mind,” can end up costing you a lot of money replacing expired foods.