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How to make groceries last longer and reduce waste
VANCOUVER -- The average household in Canada wastes 140 kilograms of food a year. That’s more than $1,000 worth of groceries, right into the trash. If you want to waste less food, you need to maximize the way you store it.
Start with the refrigerator. Make space for new food before heading to the store or accepting a grocery delivery. Cool air that can circulate throughout the space will keep your food best. For optimum freshness, your refrigerator should be set at 37 Fahrenheit or 3 Celsius. And for the freezer, 0 F or -18 C.
Go through your cupboards and check out the “best by” dates. Move the oldest foods to the front so you eat them first. You don’t need to take those dates as “throw out” dates - “best by” means the food may taste better before that particular date, but it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat. You should examine food past that date to see if there are signs of spoilage, and if you have any doubts, throw it out.
The dry goods in your pantry will last longer if you store them in airtight packaging. This will also help keep out bacteria and moisture.
And when you freeze or refrigerate foods, wrap them tightly. Then mark them with a date so that you’re more likely to use them first.
Food experts say that to keep staples like bread longer, keep them out of the fridge. Bread can go stale much faster in the refrigerator than if you store it in a cool, dry place. But you can freeze it; just wrap it tightly and put it in an airtight container or a resealable bag.
If you don’t think you’ll use milk before the expiration date, pour a little out of the carton, then freeze the rest. It will keep for up to three months.
Strawberries will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you remove the stems and put them in a single layer in a covered container.
You can even freeze eggs. To keep the yolks from hardening and becoming unusable, whisk them a little, then pour into an airtight container. They will keep well for about a year in your freezer.
Frozen foods retain their nutrients, so buying frozen produce is a good way to cut down on waste. Then use only what you need from the freezer, so you throw out less.
The McLaughlin On Your Side team has a few tricks of their own. Parmesan cheese freezes well, so buy it on sale and cut it into single-serving sized wedges. It defrosts quickly and keeps up to six months in the freezer, like most other hard cheeses.
And if it doesn’t look like you’re going to get around to using the greens you bought, like kale or spinach, wash them and chop them up for freezing in single-serving sizes. They wilt quickly in the fridge but when frozen are a fast and easy way to add last minute greens to any recipe when on hand.
With files from Consumer Reports