There comes that moment when we arrive home from a long day, starving, and go to the refrigerator to grab something to eat and to find our stomachs being let down to a refrigerator full of foods gone bad.
If going through the kitchen and tossing rotten fruit, old leftovers, and stale bread is part of your weekly ritual, you’re not alone. According to the National Resource Defense Council, about 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes to waste.
The average American wastes about $28 to $43 in food each month, which is roughly 20 pounds of food. Broken down, about 17 percent of dairy, 20 percent of vegetables, 15 percent of fruit, 18 percent of the grains, 25 percent of seafood, and 33 percent of the meat bought goes to waste. This brings on the question, how do you make your groceries last longer?
Fresh produce such as lettuce, spinach, and fruits are some of the most common foods that tend to spoil the fastest if not used quickly or preserved correctly. Fresh herbs last longer when stored in the vegetable crisper section of the fridge inside the plastic bag. After getting home from the grocery store, wash and dry the herbs, put them back in the plastic bag and seal the bag closed with a twist tie. They should last at least a week.
Another trick is to store onions in panty hose. Put one onion in the foot of a pair of pantyhose, seal it off with a twist tie, add another onion, and repeat until the hose are full. Then hang the hose from a nail inside the pantry. Stored this way, the onions have more room to breathe and can last a month or more.
For pantry items, store cereal, chips, crackers and other grains in airtight plastic containers to keep them from going stale. The containers can be inexpensive. Wal-Mart has them for about $6 each, and they keep the contents usable up to a year, sometimes more. On average, dry foods last two weeks longer in the containers.
Senior Lindsey Wilson, an education major, eats cereal on a daily basis; storing her cereal and making it last is something that is essential to her. Wilson admits to leaving her cereal in the box that it came in, but might reconsider.
“I never think to use air tight containers to keep my food fresh, but my parents do it at home, so maybe I should start,” she said.
For perishables that can go bad once they are cut, such as cheese, add a dab of butter to the cut side of the cheese to prevent it from drying out. Also, be sure to wrap it in wax paper (not plastic) and then place it into a reusable baggie and store it in the warmest area of the fridge.
Wrap the top of bananas with plastic wrap and they should keep three to five days longer. Wrap greens such as broccoli, lettuce, and celery in foil before popping them into the refrigerator. Tomatoes do not belong in the fridge; rather they should be stored outside of it at room temperature.
Senior Jenna Gould, communications major, said she has been storing tomatoes in the refrigerator at her apartment since she moved in and has to deal with throwing them out every few days if they are not used. Maybe this trick will save her some money!
Try some of these tricks to keep more food in the refrigerator and more money in the wallet!