Thursday, March 21, 2013

Waste Not Want Not

Many people like to save money and stock up when they find a sale.  However, if you find yourself throwing out food from your refrigerator every week you probably are wasting money instead of saving money.

Here are some scary statistics from 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, 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 you buy goes to waste.

You may be interested in some food storage tips to make your food last longer and have less waste.  Some of these tips have worked for me and the others I am still in the process of trying.  These tips are typically a few minutes of prep work and storage on shopping days, it may require you to plan ahead.

1. Wrap celery in foil
My celery used to  turn soft in a matter of days before I started wrapping it  in foil.  Now I can actually use all of my celery up to 2 1/2 weeks later and it is still crisp.

After 2 1/2 weeks.

2. Use paper towels to preserve asparagus.
Fresh asparagus dries out if it is not stored properly.  Wash your asparagus and wrap in paper towels.  This will keep the asparagus for a couple of days and allow it to stay crisp.

3.  Wash fruits and vegetables in a vinegar bath.
When arriving home from the market, fill the sink with water and 3/4 cup white vinegar.  Soak the produce for 10 minutes before storing.  The vinegar will remove dirt, wax and bacteria.  This works marvelously on fresh berries.

4.  Store onions in pantyhose.
Put an onion in the foot of a clean pair of pantyhose or tights, seal it off with a twist tie, add another onion and repeat until the hose are filled.  This allows the onion to breathe and they should last for a month or more.

5.   Add rice to your seasonings.
This is important in high humidity regions.  Dry seasonings tend to clump in humid areas.  Add 4-10 grains of rice to a bottle and shake.  The rice keeps the seasonings from sticking together and will last for 6 months or more. Especially good for seasonings that contain salt.

6.  Invest in airtight plastic containers.
I store cereal, chips, crackers and grains in airtight containers to keep them from going stale.

7.  Store bread in the freezer or refrigerator.
Bread tends to mold quickly when the weather is warm and humid.  Bread will last up to two weeks stored in the refrigerator.

8.  Keep fresh herbs in a plastic bag.
Wash and dry the herbs, place on a paper towel in a plastic bag and seal the bag.  The herbs will last about a week.

9.  Keep an eye out for bad apples.
If one apple spoils it quickly spreads to the other apples or fruit.  Keep the ripest fruit in a separate bowl.

10.  Utilize your freezer.
Some fruits and vegetable can be frozen if you will not be able to use them before they spoil.  Peppers and onions can be chopped or sliced and frozen in freezer bags for use in cooked recipes. Zucchini can be grated and frozen in bags for use in bread, muffins or pasta sauce. Berries and peaches can be frozen and used in baking and smoothies. Eggs can be cracked, whisked and frozen in ice cube trays to be thawed and used later.  Milk freezes well.  Pour about a cup of milk out of a full gallon to allow for expansion during freezing.  Grate cheese and freeze in bags for a later use.

Hopefully these tips will help keep more money in your pocket or give you more money to be spent on fun things, like shoes.

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