When you’re trying to save money on groceries and find ways to cut back, it can be challenging to figure out how to get more from what you buy. If you’re trying to stretch the pound in your pocket as far as possible, it’s important to know how to minimise food wastage. It actually doesn’t take a lot of effort or cost much money to extend the shelf life of almost any food item. There are a number of simple things you can do from keeping moisture out of your storage containers, storing them properly in your kitchen cabinets or refrigerator, and using them before they go bad.
Rotating Your Stock
Keeping your kitchen and refrigerator organized will not only help you find what you need easily and quickly, it will also keep your food fresh longer by decreasing the risk of spoilage. When you’ve got too much in your pantry, items will go stale or get freezer burned before you have a chance to use them. Rotating your stock to keep the older items in front and the latest ones toward the back will help you use them all before they’re past their prime. Plan your meals around the food that’s already in your cupboards and fridge, and for short life foods don’t buy more than you can use in a week or two. Always keep a running list of what’s in your cupboards and refrigerator so you can add new items to the front and get rid of old ones at the back.
Store Dry Goods in Sealed Bags or Tight-Fitting Containers
If you’ve got a bag of beans or rice, don’t just leave it sitting on the countertop. You’ll want to store these and other dry goods in a cool, dry place. Light, humidity, and warm temperatures will accelerate the oxidation process, causing them to go stale or rancid. If you’ve got a large bag of beans or rice, transfer them to a tightly sealed container. You can also use a vacuum sealer to suck out the air from plastic bags and keep your food fresher, longer. Another option is to transfer your food to jars or other types of sealable containers such as Mylar bags. Just make sure you label the containers with the contents to prevent confusion later on.
Use Drying Agents to Extend the Shelf Life of Produce
If you’re buying fruits or vegetables that are on the more fragile side, you may want to look for ways to extend their shelf life. Drying agents like silica gel will help keep moisture out of your containers, cutting down on rotting and decay. Never use foods that are contaminated with sand or dirt. You can sanitize them by baking them in an oven at 300°F for 30 minutes. You can also use a small amount of dried rice or other grains to help absorb excess water in the bottom of containers. Keep in mind that these drying agents will eventually lose their effectiveness, so you’ll want to replace them periodically.
A variation on this theme is to add Oxygen Absorbers to dried food and then seal in an airtight package – this can extend the shelf life of certain foods considerably.
Use Freeze Dried Foods
Freeze dried foods have been around for years, but many people don’t know about them or how to use them in everyday meals. These are the equivalent of regular, dried foods that are rehydrated with hot water. They’re great for extended backpacking trips and wilderness explorations because they don’t take up much space in your backpack. They’re also perfect for camping trips or other situations where you won’t have access to a microwave or stove. You can find freeze dried fruits, veggies, and even meat at many online grocery stores. Freeze dried foods, if packaged correctly, are able to last many years whilst still retaining their flavour and nutritional contents.
Repackage Foods for Longer Storage
If you’ve got some containers that are slightly larger than what they should be, don’t throw them away. Cut down on the size of your food items by repackaging them in appropriately sized containers. This will help them stay fresher for longer as well as prevent any messes from spilling from one item to another. Store bulk items, like rice, beans, or nuts in smaller containers and keep them in your kitchen cabinets. Transfer smaller bags of spices and seasonings to smaller containers. This will help prevent them from spilling in your drawers and cabinets. You can also repackage larger food items, like chicken, steak, or ground beef, into smaller portions for easier storage and use. It’s a great idea to repackage leftovers into smaller portions as well.
Food is one of the most important cost facing any household. It’s necessary to sustain life, and in the UK it’s also the second biggest expense after housing. When you’re trying to save money on groceries, it’s not enough to just buy things on sale. It’s important to know how to extend the shelf life of your food items so you can use them before they expire and make the most out of your money.