How often do I buy an expensive product- a really nice mayonnaise or expensive cheese- only to let it sit in the fridge until past its use-by-date? Or mentally arm myself for cleaning out the vegetable drawer, throwing out whole bunches of carrots or a packet of baby spinach? It’s not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of valuable (and much-needed) food, so I am resolved from here on in, to make the most of my groceries, and to make them last. Here’s how.
If something is on special, that means the stock has to move. Check the date before you purchase the item. You might have a need for the item immediately, in which case the date is inconsequential. If you’re going to be using it for a long time, then it’s better to spend the extra money and have an improved expiry date. With dairy especially, it’s better not to push too far past the date in the interest of frugality.
Leave Fruit And Veggies Alone
Cutting or peeling fruit or veggies will speed up the rate they go off. Leave them as they are in order to preserve them for the proper length of time. I also read recently that the old wives tale about ripe bananas is true: if you put a ripe banana next to other pieces of fruit, they will ripen as well. The same is true of bad apples. The saying is true; one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.
Once or twice a week, go through your entire fridge. Repeat the procedure in your pantry once a month. Make a stack of items that have to be used, and build your next couple of meals around them. This is especially true of items in your veggie drawer that can be made into soups and frozen, to be eaten throughout the week.
Half In The Freezer
If you’re not a big family, consider putting half the loaf of bread in the freezer when you buy it. You’ll be able to defrost it, slice at a time, and won’t run the risk of losing any bread to mould.
One of the most frugal investments I’ve ever made was a series of airtight containers for dried produce, and a similar set of containers for lunches throughout the week. That way, my staples- flour, brain, quinoa, lentils- all last an incredibly long time. I find freezing a lot of meals for the week is a great way to ensure food is used, and can’t go off.
Cheese is essentially getting mouldier every minute that passes, so a great way to preserve it for longer is to rewrap it every now and again, especially if you see the paper has gotten damp. Try and avoid touching it with your hands as that will also speed up the process.
Keep your potatoes in a shaded place. The sun and warmth speeds up the process, and they could shrivel up if they’re overexposed to sunlight.
Wrap Your Meat
A great tip from the Internet. If you’re going to freeze your meat, take it out of the styrofoam packaging and wrap it in cling wrap- styrofoam was never intended as long-term packaging.