Tips to Keep Food From Spoiling
In efforts to be prepared, you've probably purchased way more groceries than you normally do on your shopping trips, especially if you have a family. At my house there are six of us and even during normal times we blow through at TON of food. I'm not kidding. My freshman teenager eats an easy $100 a week by himself. In pre-coronavirus times, I would often stop at the store 3 or 4 days a week to grab a few items for the next day or two and not overbuy things I knew would spoil quickly.
The problem with stocking up, especially with fresh items, is that two or three days after your shopping trip, you realize no one is eating the four bags of grapes nearly fast enough for them to be gone before they spoil. Then, you realize the bananas have already turned brown! Sure, you could make banana bread. Until you realize you don't have that one key ingredient and you don't want to run to the store again because you're trying to be responsible and socially distance away from crowds.
Next, it's the 20 pound bag of russet potatoes that are already turning soft and weird and sprouting because they went bad in a week. Everybody loves mashed potatoes. Nobody wants to eat them every day, so those are now ruined too. Oh, and all that lettuce and bags of spinach have gone soft and gross and slimy. It's frustrating.
Here are some tips to help you not waste your expensive groceries:
- Store things at the right temperature. With few exceptions, cold weather fruits and vegetables should be stored at fridge temperature. Warm weather fruits and vegetables should be stored at counter-top temperature and will continue to ripen. Here's a great refresher from the Kitchn.com
- Store things in the right place. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place. Ideally around 50 degrees with no moisture. The fridge is too cold and makes them turn wonky. If you've got a dark, cool basement pantry, that would be best. They also need to breath. Stored properly, potatoes can last for months. Also, you shouldn't store fruits and vegetables next to each other as certain fruits put off a gas that can cause everything to ripen faster.
- Use your freezer. Many fruits and vegetables can be frozen to extend their shelf life with minimal taste and nutritional loss. Here is a handy Pinterest guide you can print.
- Focus on meal planning. There are tons of websites to point you in the right direction. Here is a beginners guide with step-by-step instructions. You don't have to get extreme with your meal planning, but taking a look at what you have on hand and what's going to spoil first is a great way to map out what you're going to cook in the immediate future. Hamburger Helper can be cooked next month. The flat of mushrooms can not.