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Michelle Fern Michelle Fern
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Make your groceries last longer

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I mentioned in a prior article in November that Americans waste 96 billion pounds of food each year. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, an average household of four throws away over $1.000 per year in food broken down, about 17 percent of dairy, 20 percent of vegetables, 15 percent of fruit, 18 percent of the grains, 25 percent of seafood, and 33 percent of the meat you buy goes to waste.

As I cleaned up the kitchen this past weekend, I found myself throwing away some stale bread, a very black banana, and leftovers that began the reproduction process through some furry babies. I couldn't help but think about the waste both in terms of food and my wallet and how I could avoid it.

The statistics above are staggering, and although we think we throw away a little here and there, what doesn't seem like much it really does add up.

Using coupons and shopping the sales is a great way save money, but you can stretch that dollar further by preserving your food and using some tricks to extend the life of your groceries. By learning how to preserve food, you're helping both your wallet and the environment by reducing waste. The follow are a few ways to make your groceries last a good while:

  • Don't store onions with potatoes, they'll spoil faster. If you keep onions in a cool dry place with good air circulation, they will last 2-3 months. One crazy way to help with keeping that air circulating and make them last a long time is to store your onions in pantyhose. Put one onion in the foot of a pair of pantyhose and tie knots between each onion. Hang them in your basement or create wall art!
  • Store apples with your potatoes. This will keep the potatoes from spudding. 
  • Throw away bad apples; it can cause the surrounding foods to spoil faster. Mold spreads really quickly, so be sure to trash anything that is furry.
  • Add rice to your dry seasonings. Humidity causes dry seasonings to clump together, so adding just four to 10 grains of dry rice to the bottle will keep the seasonings from sticking together and make them last six months or more.
  • To help that cheese from drying out in the fridge, just add a dollop of butter. You can also store cheese in wax paper instead of plastic wrap. The wax paper allows the cheese to breathe better, thereby keeping it from molding or turning slimy. 
  • To help bananas from turning too quickly, wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap. They'll keep for 3-5 days longer than usual. Bananas also produce more ethylene gas than any other fruit, so keep them isolated on the counter.
  • Invest in an Ethylene Gas Guardian ($20). This helps absorb the ethylene emitted by fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh up to three times longer. Some types of produce that are sensitive to this ripening agent will spoil more quickly when exposed to this gas. 
  • Keep your lettuce fresh longer by storing your lettuce in a container and placing a paper towel on top to absorb the moisture. Paper towels are also useful in helping keep fresh asparagus from drying out in a few days. Wash and dry your fresh asparagus, then wrap the bunch in paper towels. That will keep the asparagus dry without cutting off the oxygen and the bunch will stay crisp longer.
  • Wrap celery and broccoli in tin foil before storing in the fridge. It'll stay crisp for 4 weeks or more.
  • Store bread in the fridge. Some people thing this makes the bread too cold and go stale faster. However, storing it on the top shelf near the door prevents it from getting too cold and it tastes fine after being out for a minute or two. Sliced bread lasts up to two weeks if stored in the fridge.
  • Store delicate herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro and chives by covering them with plastic, secure with a rubber band, and refrigerate. 
  • Oily herbs like thyme can be tied loosely together with string and hung in the open air. This will not only make the herb last longer but also gives off a wonderful scent.
  • Strawberries and raspberries go bad fast if not eaten right away. One way to help them last longer is to create a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) and 10 parts water. Combine the berries with the mixture, drain, rinse, and put them in the fridge. The solution is diluted enough that you won't taste the vinegar. Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.

Organizing your fridge is also very important in helping your food last longer! This is from Squakfox.com

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