Food costs are on the rise, and nearly every working American is feeling the crunch with the increased payroll taxes that kicked in on January 1. Wasting food by letting it spoil seems less and less of an option. But there are ways to keep fresh food from spoiling so quickly.
Fresh food gone bad
According to Money Talk News, Americans throw out about 20 pounds of food each month due to spoilage. It estimates that is the equivalent of putting $516 a year into the trash can. But you can minimize the hit by prolonging the shelf-life of your groceries with some of these tricks.
In the freezer
Too ripe bananas — Nobody wants to eat an overly-ripe banana, with its brown skin and mushy texture. When faced with brown bananas, frugal home makers have always answered by baking banana bread. But what if you don’t have enough right now to make a loaf? Simply put the bananas in an airtight plastic bag and put it in the freezer until you do. They can also be used as a substitute for eggs when baking a cake.
Keeping herbs fresh — If you cook with fresh herbs, you know they spoil fairly quickly. But if you store them in air-tight plastic bags in the freezer, you can keep them fresh for a month. That is more than twice as long as they would last in the refrigerator.
Vegetable chunks — Suppose you use half a green pepper in the meatloaf. Instead of sticking the other half into the fridge where it will wilt fairly quickly, stick it in an airtight bag and freeze it. It can be used later in soups, stews or for a variety of cooking uses.
Frozen butter — Take advantage the next time there is a sale on butter and stock up a little. It keep well in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
Cheesy tricks — Now that you have stocked up on frozen butter, thaw a little and spread it on the cut sides of the cheese in your refrigerator to extend its shelf life, according to CBS. The news agency also commented that this technique works best for cheese sealed in wax. But if it is not, simply wrap it in wax paper instead of the plastic wrap you are no doubt using now. MSN Money says that will keep it from “growing mold or turning slimy” too soon.
Cool bread — Sliced bread stored in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator will stay fresh for about two weeks. That is double its lifespan in your cupboard. Enough said.
Cottage and sour cream — Store them in the fridge lid-side down in their original containers. That, according to CBS, will create “a vacuum effect that stifles the growth of bacteria that can cause the food to spoil.”
Spices and grains
Spices — They don’t really spoil, but they can clump together from moisture over time. To counteract that, just put a few grains of dry, uncooked rice into each spice bottle and shaker.
Flour, rice, grains and pasta — These are likewise not prone to spoilage too quickly. However, they are prone to weevils in some areas. Keep the little pests out of your flour, rice, grain and pasta canisters by adding a bay leaf. The smell will send the little critters packing.