There is no point in making a great effort to plan frugal meals and carefully shop for the best value ingredients if your groceries spoil before you can use them. Here at Frugal Fixes, we have a few easy and inexpensive ways to make your ingredients last longer. The list is as follows:
- Roll and clip!
- When you open dry ingredients that are stored in a bag, even if that bag is inside a cardboard box, roll the open end of the bag and secure the rolled portion with a clip.
- This will help to seal air out of the bag and keep your food fresh for a longer period of time.
- And don’t bother with silly and expensive “chip clips.” Just use large binder clips. They are cheap, strong, durable, and they come in handy for all sorts of other things.
- This technique is great for:
- Any food that comes in a box or bag
2. Segregate your fruit.
- It sounds harsh, I know, but you can’t let your tomatoes or bananas mix with your other fruits. If you use a fruit bowl, bananas and tomatoes will cause the other fruit in the bowl to ripen (and spoil) faster.
- Keep them separate.
- And, yes. You should store your tomatoes on the counter, not in the refrigerator. They will last longer at room temperature.
3. Give your avocado a citrus bath.
You probably already know that an unused portion of avocado will turn black if you don’t use it right away. This problem can be solved. Squirt a little lemon or lime juice on the exposed portion of the avocado before storing it in the refrigerator. An even better way is to store the avocado meat-side-down in a small amount of citrus juice.
4. Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator
Avocados and bananas seem to have a very brief useful period between the time that they ripen and the time that they become overripe. To solve this problem, store your avocados and bananas in a seal-able plastic bag in the refrigerator as soon as they are ripe.
5. Warm up hard bread.
Fresh bread is wonderful. Day old bread is doable. If bread gets much older than that, it often becomes so dry that it is unpleasant to eat. This problem is easily solved. If your bread isn’t moldy or rock hard, but just a bit dry and harder than you would like, microwave it for 10 seconds. It won’t be good as new, but it will be much more palatable. Popping dry bread in the toaster works pretty well, too.
6. When in doubt, bag it.
- Seal-able plastic bags are inexpensive and very effective. Use them whenever you think they might help. Plastic bags keep your ingredients fresh and prevent them from absorbing other strong odors or flavors in your cupboard or refrigerator.
- This works especially well for:
7. Foil up your celery.
We have no idea why this works, but celery lasts much longer if you wrap it in aluminum foil than if you leave it in its plastic bag or store it unwrapped in the refrigerator. Just do it. It really works. Click here for a tutorial!
8. Keep your freezer full.
If you lose power occasionally (as we do), your freezer will stay cold longer if it is relatively full. Besides, frozen ingredients are often inexpensive, convenient and nutritious. Win win!
9. Don’t buy packaged fresh herbs.
When it comes to herbs, there are only 2 ways to go: dry or alive. Bottles of dried herbs can be expensive, but they usually last a long time. Packaged fresh herbs are expensive and they spoil very, very quickly. If you like fresh herbs, grow them yourself or purchase a pre-started plant. These are widely available and relatively inexpensive. We do this most often with basil.
10. Date your packaged foods.
- Yes. We are aware that nearly all packaged food already has an expiration date printed somewhere on the package. The trouble is that this date is often small and hard to find. When you are in a hurry, you might not even bother to look for it. We have addressed this problem by writing the expiration date on the tops of our canned and boxed foods with a permanent marker. The process only adds a minute or two to the grocery sorting process, and it makes it very easy to find the ingredients that are expiring the soonest.
- It’s also a good idea to regularly sort through your cupboards and move the items that are expiring soonest to the front ranks so they are easy to see and use.
We would love to hear some of your tips for saving food. If you have any, please leave them in the comments below!
-Kristin & James
Categories: Thrifty Tips