Tips to save on food and keep it fresher for longer

WASHINGTON — Some people are paying almost as much for food as they are for rent or a mortgage. Government estimates now show that the average family of four is spending between $639 and $1,300 per month on food. So how can you reduce what you’re spending at the grocery store and make what you buy last longer?

Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires suggests following some of the old-fashioned rules: making and sticking to a shopping list, avoiding impulse buys, clipping coupons and signing up for store loyalty programs to get extra savings.

But Squires added that taking time to do a bit of home inventory can be huge help as well. “Taking stock of what is in your pantry, your refrigerator and your freezer on a regular basis, and before you go to the store, will help you not to overbuy,” Squires said.

She suggested keeping a list of items you have in the refrigerator/freezer and pantry, especially those pricey spices in your spice rack.

A little planning can also help you solve the problem of foods spoiling before you can use them. “You can also use sticky notes inside the refrigerator or your pantry door to remind yourself what may be hiding in the back that you can’t see,” Squires suggested.

Even inside the refrigerator, not all foods can coexist well. So Squires urges consumers to separate fruits and vegetables between the two produce drawers.

“Fruits and vegetables don’t play well together,” she said. “The vegetables emit gasses that cause the fruit to ripen faster, and that’s when we wind up having to throw out produce that’s stored together.”

A few other tips to keep food fresh longer: Wrap bread tightly in foil and store it on the counter — not in the refrigerator. Otherwise, wrap it in foil and place it in the freezer for longer storage.

Squires said tomatoes work better at room temperature. Other items that are best at room temperature include garlic cloves, potatoes and onions (which are best kept in a cool, dark place).

Fresh herbs will last longer in the refrigerator after gently washing, drying and wrapping in paper towels and storing in a partially-opened zipper lock plastic bag in the crisper drawer. For greens and lettuce, wrap them in paper towels after washing and then store between layers of paper towels.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up