12 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer

Photo: Happy Worker

Saving on groceries doesn't just stop at the supermarket checkout. Have your dollar go even further by preserving your food and using some tricks to extend the life of your groceries. If you're throwing away food, you're wasting cash, and all the tips you've used to save money at the grocery store will be for naught. By learning how to preserve food, you're helping your wallet and the environment by reducing waste. Read on to find out the best ways to make your groceries last a good while.

RELATED: Items Not to Buy in Bulk

Get an Ethylene Gas Guardian

The E.G.G. or Ethylene Gas Guardian ($25) is a product that will absorb ethylene, which is emitted by most fruits and veggies. Some types of produce that are sensitive to this ripening agent will spoil more quickly when exposed to this gas. A solution is to separate the items (there is a nice list of Ethylene-sensitive foods on Real Simple), and you can also choose to use the E.G.G. and put it in your produce drawer.

Educate Yourself About the Life of Your Grocery Items

Know how long each of your grocery items will last. For those without an expiration date, there is a handy list on Ziploc's website that gives an estimate of how long different types of produce and meats last when refrigerated and frozen.

Don't wait until the food spoils and you end up throwing it away. Keep in mind the life of each item and eat it based on which one perishes the fastest.

Don't Cut Fruits and Veggies Till You Need Them

Keep fruits and veggies whole (until you need them) if you want them to last longer. Don't break off a stem, break it apart, or chop it into pieces if you're not going to eat it. "As soon as you start pulling fruits and vegetables apart, you've broken cells, and microorganisms start to grow," says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University.

Put Bread in the Fridge or Freezer

I have friends who immediately put the bread they buy into the fridge, and my mom puts slices of bread into the freezer to make it last longer. If you're not going to finish the bread in a few days, don't leave it out on the counter, or it will start to grow mold. The best method is to leave half of it in the freezer and half of it in the fridge.

Be Smart When Buying Organic

Even if you're a fan of organic foods, you might want to be smart when you're buying organic. For example, think about how long you take to eat a certain kind of food and choose to go organic based on that because organic foods spoil faster. If you find yourself constantly throwing away grocery items like eggs and milk, make a note of which ones and go for the normal kind the next time you're at the supermarket.

Invest in an Herb Savor

The Herb Savor ($30) from Prepara, which was also one of Oprah's Favorite Things, will lengthen the life of your herbs for up to three weeks, according to the website. It's not just a container, this kitchen gadget will keep the roots of your herbs "slightly submerged under water."

Cook Foods That Are About to Perish

If the foods are approaching their expiry date or are starting to lose their luster, cook them before it reaches the point in which you have to throw them away. For example, make a stir-fry out of the old produce or make baked goods from the really ripe fruits such as banana bread out of old bananas. Start digging around the Internet for ideas!

Use Food Containers

Store your leftovers in containers and any fruits and vegetables that you have chopped into pieces. The seals keep the air out which helps the food stay fresh longer.

Consider a Sealer

Get a nifty sealer ($10) to reseal your packaged goods. It'll keep the air from escaping, and it's more convenient than pouring the item into a food container.

Avoid Bagged Veggies and Pre-Cut Fruits

Bagged salads and pre-cut fruits certainly will save you a few minutes since there isn't any preparation time, but they also tend to spoil faster. Reach for whole, fresh produce at the grocery store to ensure that your veggies and fruits will last longer.

Throw Out the Bad Apple

Carefully look at your produce and throw out ones that are rotting because it can cause the surrounding foods to spoil faster as well. Mold spreads really quickly, so be sure to trash anything that has been infected by the fungus.

Make Fresh Produce More Visible in the Fridge

For foods that are perishable, try to make them more visible in your fridge and put them in front of processed food items. This is so you won't forget your fresh produce, and you're more likely to reach for them.

Although it is recommended to keep produce in its respective drawers, you should try this technique if you find that you keep forgetting about the items in the drawers.

This is a guest contribution from our friends at SavvySugar. Check out more useful articles from this partner:

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Guest's picture

Besides the carb factor, I don't buy bread often. I can't eat an entire loaf before it's inedible. I think it's a great idea to freeze half of the loaf as soon as you bring it home from the supermarket. Even though a loaf of bread is only about $1.00, I can't stand wasting it.

Guest's picture

Agree with all these points. You'd be surprised what you can put together from leftovers. Try to make one meal a week from your leftovers.

Guest's picture

My wife does the same thing. Whenever we have leftovers, we're sure to have a "recycled" meal the following day. And I'm not complaining because she's pretty good at it.

Guest's picture

My wife taught me the trick about freezing bread. All you have to do to refresh it is pop the slices in a toaster.

Guest's picture

Apparently bread should be stored on the counter rather than the fridge...


Guest's picture

I agree with the previous comment that bread shouldn't be stored in the fridge - it makes it go stale faster. I always understood that you should either store bread on the counter or in the freezer for longer term storage.

Guest's picture

I agree that you should freeze some items to buy you some time to get to them. www.iwillteachyoutosave.com

Guest's picture

I disagree about the bagged salads - they tend to last LONGER than regular produce, as long as the bag is not open.

Guest's picture

i absolutely hate when bread is in the freezer, it tastes awful

Meg Favreau's picture

I always figure that once bread hits the freezer, it is -- in more than one way -- toast.

Guest's picture

Interesting: I've started to buy organic milk, because it seems to taste better AND outlast it's regular milk counterparts: the sell-by dates on the organic milk products tend to be further into the future than their regular counterparts. I've noticed that half-and-half/cream products also tend to last longer than regular milk. Is this just me?