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Food prices are rising, making it even more important to avoid wasting food. Food waste can hit your wallet hard, whether due to items going bad or losing track of what’s in your fridge.

In a time when many of us are grappling with soaring grocery bills, it’s essential to ensure that the food we purchase remains fresh for as long as possible.

The good news is there are practical ways to prolong your groceries’ shelf life and save money. Here are 18 helpful tips to help you do just that.

Choose Frozen Fruits and Veggies

frozen vegetables in supermarket
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Switching to frozen fruits and vegetables can be smart if you’ve ever had to throw away unused produce. Not only do they offer similar nutritional value to their fresh counterparts, but they also have a much longer shelf life.

Keep the Fridge Clean

Open Refrigerator Or Fridge Door With Food Inside
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A cluttered refrigerator can disrupt the flow of cool air and result in warmer spots that are less ideal for food storage. This can lead to food spoilage and even mold growth.

To prevent mold from spreading to fresh items, it’s essential to maintain a clean and organized refrigerator. Promptly remove spoiled food, as mold in one section of the fridge can easily spread to other areas and affect open products.

Freeze Meat Right Away

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If you don’t have immediate plans to prepare or consume your meat, it’s smart to freeze it. Uncooked meats can be safely stored in the freezer for several months, depending on the cut. This extends their shelf life and frees up valuable space in your refrigerator.

Store Animal Products in the Back of the Fridge

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Animal products like meat and fish tend to spoil relatively quickly. If you intend to cook them within a few days and don’t plan to freeze them, storing them at the back of the fridge on the lower shelves is advisable.

This approach can help ensure that your meat products stay fresh until you’re ready to use them, lowering the risk of cross-contamination.

Refrigerate Your Fruits

Fruit market with various colorful fresh fruits and vegetables
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Fruits like apples and oranges tend to spoil more quickly when left at room temperature, so it’s a good idea to store them in the refrigerator. Storing them in the fridge will not impact their taste. 

Don’t Pre-Wash Your Fruits and Veggies

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While it might seem convenient, it’s not a good practice to wash fresh fruits and vegetables before storing them.

Washing can introduce moisture to the produce, which can accelerate their decay. It’s advisable to wash your fruits and veggies only when you’re ready to consume them to extend their shelf life.

Use Resealable and Airtight Containers 

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To preserve the freshness of opened food, consider using resealable and airtight containers made of either plastic or glass. This helps prevent the intrusion of moisture and air, which can lead to food contamination and quicker spoilage.

Utilize Clear Containers

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Clear containers such as glass or plastic make it easy to see the food contents, which can encourage you to use the food sooner.

Wrap Vegetables in a Paper Towel

Woman's hands wiping down a wet, fresh crown of broccoli with a paper towel
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To keep your leafy vegetables fresh for a longer duration, try wrapping them in paper towels. This simple method can help keep them crisp and healthy.

Make a Smoothie

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When your fruits ripen too quickly or seem a bit past their prime, consider blending them into a smoothie. Smoothies are versatile, and you can incorporate various ingredients, making them a fantastic way to minimize food waste and make good use of aging fruits and vegetables.

Separate the Bananas

banana
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Keep your bananas from ripening too fast by separating them. Using plastic wrap to cover the top stems will help delay the browning process.

Eat Leftovers

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Utilize your leftovers wisely. Consuming food you’ve already prepared is convenient and an effective way to maximize your groceries and make them last longer.

Pay Attention to Expiration Dates

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Food items’ “Best Used By” dates are not set in stone. They serve as a general guideline for quality and flavor. You don’t have to toss something when it reaches that date automatically. Use your best judgment. If the product smells off, it’s best to eliminate it. 

Store at Proper Temperatures

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Make sure your refrigerator is set at a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. You don’t want it to be so cold that your food freezes, but any warmer than that, and you risk harmful bacteria growth and food spoilage. 

No Perishables in the Refrigerator Door

milk
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If you want to extend the freshness of perishable items like milk and dairy products, it’s important to avoid placing them in the refrigerator door.

The temperature there tends to be warmer and less stable. Instead, opt for storing milk in the back and on the lower shelves of your fridge, where temperatures are generally colder and more consistent. This practice will help these items stay fresh for a longer period.

Inspect Fruits Before Storing

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Keep your fruits fresh for longer by examining them for any spoilage or damage. Inspect them daily and remove the bad fruits. This will help them last longer and prevent bad fruits from spoiling the rest.

Batch Cook

Woman Preparing Batch Of Healthy Meals At Home In Kitchen
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To extend the shelf life of your food and save time, consider cooking larger quantities at once. You can then freeze the extra portions, ensuring the food remains fresh for longer. This approach also simplifies meal planning, reduces food waste, and eliminates the daily need to cook.

Air Dry Herbs

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While herbs add a lovely touch to our dishes, store-bought herbs often have a short shelf life. When you bring home bunches of herbs like basil, cilantro, or chives from the market, allow them to air dry for a bit on a dry paper towel. This simple practice can help keep them fresher for longer.

Related post: How to Start your Own Herb Garden

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With These 21 Genius Shopping Hacks

Grocery Store Cereal Shelves
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Let’s face it – the rising cost of food is putting a strain on our budgets. As inflation continues to drive up the prices of groceries and everyday goods, many of us feel the financial squeeze, especially when we hit the supermarket. Here are 21 effective ways to cut down on your grocery expenses.

Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half With These 21 Genius Shopping Hacks

How to Declutter Your Kitchen: 20 Items You Must Toss

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The kitchen holds a special place in our homes, serving as a hub for cooking, meals, and gatherings. However, even though it’s the center of our daily lives, it’s easy for clutter, disarray, and items that have outstayed their welcome to accumulate in this space.

Check out the 12 items in your kitchen that should be thrown away immediately. How to Declutter Your Kitchen: 20 Items You Should Toss

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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