When thinking of ways to save more money, one of the main areas we can cut costs is on the grocery bill.
We have to eat, of course, but by being conscious of how much we’re spending at the supermarket — especially on groceries that we don’t need — we can save a small fortune. For instance, just by going to the supermarket with a list (and sticking to that list) and creating a monthly meal plan, we can set ourselves up to save about 20 percent off the cost of a grocery bill where we don’t implement those strategies.
The savings don’t have to stop in store, however. When we bring groceries home, there are opportunities to make the most of what we buy that we sometimes don’t adhere to — like making sure that we’re getting our money’s worth by eating the fresh foods instead of allowing them to spoil or rot, which is equivalent to throwing cash straight in the trash. To help you get into the habit of using more of what you buy before it goes bad, here are eight helpful tips to make your groceries last longer.
1. Only Buy What You Know You’ll Use
The number one reason so much food rots and spoils before you have a chance to eat it is because you’re overbuying. To avoid this, create a list of only the foods and ingredients you need and know you’ll eat. My trick is to create a monthly schedule of dinner ideas, and I buy ingredients for each meal in two-week blocks to ensure their freshness when it’s time to cook. Also, think about each food item before you put it into your basket. Are you buying that broccoli because you plan to eat it or because you want to pretend like you’re being healthy? I’ve done the latter plenty of times in the past. What happens? It goes from store to fridge to trash — and I end up kicking myself for it.
2. Throw Out Rotten Food Immediately
If you notice one piece of fruit or vegetable rotting — for instance, an apple that has soft spots — throw it away immediately. There’s no reason to keep it in the bowl since you know you’re not going to eat it. Rotting produce can spread bacteria that will accelerate the rate at which the other pieces will go bad.
3. Put Breads in the Fridge or Freezer
I always thought it was weird that my grandmother kept her bread in the freezer, but now I understand why: The cold air prevents bacteria from growing, so the bread will last longer. A good way to manage this tip is to separate a loaf of bread into halves. Leave one in the breadbox so it’s ready to go when you want to eat and put the other half in the freezer to save for later.
4. Grow the Herbs You Use the Most
I recently planted a small herb garden on my roof because I was fed up with buying a big bundle of herbs only to use a small handful before the bunch rots. By growing my own herbs, I can clip off the exact amount I need whenever I want. Not only will I not have to pay for herbs that I’m not using, but this will make my cooking much more convenient and flavourful.
5. Bring Fresh Foods to the Front of the Fridge
If there’s any tip you should implement right now, it’s this one. You know that old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ right? Well, it’s quite true when it comes to what’s in your fridge. We have a tendency to eat with our eyes first, so many times it’s the food that’s right up front, within reach (like leftovers), that we grab when we’re hungry — and that doesn’t bode well for the fresh food that’s stuck behind other foods. To prevent the fresh food from spoiling put it up front so you can see it. You’ll be more inclined to use it when it’s staring you in the face.
6. Use Foods That Are in Danger of Spoiling
When you know a particular food is in danger of spoiling if you don’t use it soon, make a conscious effort to use that food before you take out something else to munch on.
7. Research the Fresh Expectancy of Foods
Of course, if you don’t know how long a fresh food will last in your fridge, research it. Being informed on how long you can expect a food to stay fresh in your fridge is a great way to make sure that you’re eating the foods you need to be eating before they rot.
8. Avoid Precut Fruits and Veggies
We all love the convenience of precut and packaged fruits and vegetables, but try to avoid buying them. When fresh foods are cut, the spoiling process begins — and that will greatly reduce the amount of time they’ll stay fresh in your fridge. Plus, precut fruits and veggies tend to be more expensive than their whole counterparts; it doesn’t make any sense at all to pay more for a product that will last half as long.
Have even more ways to make fresh foods last longer? I’d love to hear your tips in the comment below.