Expert Tips: Extending the Shelf Life of Food to Maximize Your Grocery Budget

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans throw away a staggering 30-40% of their food, leading to significant financial losses, especially considering the rising costs of groceries. Here are some expert tips to help you make your groceries last longer and save hundreds of dollars each year.

  1. Be Mindful of Expiration Dates: Kimberly Baker, the food systems and safety program team director at Clemson University, advises against blindly tossing out food based solely on expiration dates. Certain items, such as fresh eggs and store-bought bread, can last longer than their sell-by dates suggest if stored properly. Utilize resources like The Food Keeper app developed by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for more guidance on food storage.
  2. Implement the FIFO Principle: Janilyn Hutchings, a food safety professional at StateFoodSafety.com, recommends organizing your shelves according to the First In, First Out (FIFO) principle. By placing newer items behind older ones and keeping leftovers front and center, you’re more likely to consume older items before they go bad, ultimately reducing food waste and saving money.
  3. Maximize Herb Lifespan: Denise Bustard, a food blogger at SweetPeasandSaffron.com, suggests soaking soft herbs in cold water and storing them in mason jars covered with plastic bags to extend their freshness. Woody herbs like rosemary or thyme can be frozen in ice cube trays or zip-top bags for long-term storage.
  4. Properly Store Fruits and Vegetables: Palak Patel, a chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, advises removing fruits and vegetables from their original packaging and storing them in clean, dry kitchen towels to maintain crispness and vibrancy. Additionally, dividing items like squash, carrots, and salad greens into separate containers can help preserve their freshness.
  5. Freeze Dairy Items: Sara Lundberg, author of Budget Savvy Diva’s Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill by 50% or More, recommends stocking up on dairy items when prices are low and freezing them for later use. Milk and cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar can be safely frozen for extended periods, allowing you to take advantage of discounts and prevent waste.

By following these expert tips, you can significantly reduce food waste, extend the lifespan of your groceries, and ultimately save hundreds of dollars each year.

Repurposed article originally published in First of Women

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