Ever had a bag of lettuce or a tomato go bad less than a week after you bought them? Teri Gault, Founder and CEO of www.thegrocerygame.com knows just how you feel! “The problem is shoppers don’t know the proper ways to store food in a way the will keep it fresh and flavorful,” says Queen of Cheap, Teri Gault. During these tough economic times, there is no room for waste, especially when it comes to feeding your family. The less food you toss out, the more money you’ll save!
Teri has come up with simple and easy ways to keep your food fresher and last longer, saving you time, money and those additional trips to the grocery store:
· Guacamole – make it last 4 times longer! There’s nothing like fresh guacamole at a summer get-together. but it can turn an unappetizing shade of brown in as little as six hours! To help keep it green, squeeze a little lemon juice over it and seal with plastic wrap. Lemon’s enzymes slow oxidation, so it’s fresh for at least one extra day.
· Lettuce – The pre-washed bags of lettuce for salads wilt in just a couple of days, since their water content speeds up oxidation. To keep leafy greens crisp for a week longer, take them out of the bag as soon as you get home and without rinsing them – WRAP them in a clean dishtowel. This will whisk away the moisture that causes them to go limp!
· Bread – try keeping bread in the freezer and stocking up while it’s cheap! Just take out the pieces you need, slice by slice to make it last longer and stay fresher. Be sure to check that the bag has no holes and tide a knot it for tighter air seal so there is no freezer burn build up.
· Yogurt – Buy some extra when it’s on sale, but get the ones with a far off expiration date. Usually, yogurts can last up to 5 weeks and you can even try freezing them and putting them in a blender to make a pure yogurt smoothie. HINT: Larger yogurt containers spoil more quickly, so stick with the smaller packages!
· Fruit – try freezing fresh fruit that you buy at your local supermarket. You can use frozen bananas to make banana bread or muffins. You can use strawberries or blueberries to make a smoothie or a special frozen dessert with fruit toppings! Sometimes when you buy fruit that is overripe, the store will charge you less and then you can freeze and use for pancakes, muffins, cakes or smoothies.
· Grapes/Raspberries/Cherries – never wash all your grapes at once! Only wash those that you are going to eat. The water that pools on the outside of the grapes often creates mold, making the grapes last a lot less time. Try popping them in the refrigerator for added extra freshness – or you can even freeze them for a sweet treat, they make a great snack!
· Tomatoes – when tomatoes are in season, they’re at their cheapest! Buy extra and freeze them several ways: plunge into boiling water until skins split - remove and cool. Remove skins, and dice and then put into ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove frozen tomato cubes and store in re-sealable storage bags for use in sauces, casseroles, soups, salsa, etc. Tomatoes can also be frozen whole, then thawed and used for all of the above.
· Meat – if you stock up on fresh meat from the supermarket or butcher – repackage it before you store it in the freezer. Use a strong plastic bag and squeeze out the air out as much as you can. The original packaging that meat comes in often does not protect against freezer burn and won’t keep it as fresh.
· Fish - Fish freezes best when it is sealed from all air. The best way to ensure fish is not dried out in the freezer is to fill a re-closable plastic bag with water and seal with the fish, squeezing out all the air. Another option is to fill with marinade for some extra added flavor to cook with!
· Fresh Fish - Fresh fish will remain fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, if you keep it out of its juices! Initially, dry the fish with paper towels and then wrap in a dry paper towel. Seal without air in a re-closable plastic bag. Then repeat the drying process with fresh dry paper towels every hour. Hint: It's the juices of the fish that make it taste fishy, and causes the fish to lose its freshness
· Milk – to make milk last longer, transfer to glass bottle; it will last nearly twice as long as that kept in paper or plastic cartons. Glass is inert and imparts no off flavors to milk as well. Enjoy your milk, the old fashioned way! HINT: Organic milk lasts twice as long as conventional milk!
· Eggs - Leave fresh eggs in original carton and store in coldest part of refrigerator, not in door "egg-keeper." Store hard-cooked eggs unpeeled in plastic storage container with tight-fitting lid. Also label eggs "hard-cooked." Maximum storage time for hard-cooked eggs is 7 days if eggs were very fresh, 3 to 5 if not.
· Cheese - Large blocks of cheese freeze well when first grated and sealed in a re-sealable plastic bag. Try grating the cheese when you first buy it, then freeze! It can then be used on grilled sandwiches, nachos, casseroles, etc.
· Juice - You can also freeze juice and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It will separate, but just shake it before pouring and it will taste great! HINT: This is perfect addition to sweeten up your summer smoothies or mixed drinks at a party!
· Dried Goods – pasta, cereals, dried oatmeal and granola bars are always on sale and have a very long shelf life! Try stocking up on these essentials when they go on sale and you will never run out!