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How to save money by making groceries last longer

Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 4:00 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Wasted food is wasted money. And right now, not many of us can afford either of those options.

A local dietician taught us how to make our groceries last longer while we take less frequent shopping trips during the pandemic.

The first step to long-lasting ingredients is a grocery list or a meal plan. Vanessa Richard with Eat Fit BR says a grocery trip without a purpose leaves us spoiled.

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We’re likely to waste ingredients,” Richard said. “They’ll sit in our pantry, take up valuable real estate in our pantry or refrigerator

Produce may be the first thing to go bad. To keep it longer, immediately take your produce out of the bags when you come home from the store.

“The produce bags trap moistures and can cause spoilage faster,” Richard said.

Wash your ingredients and lay them out to air-dry. Then, store them in the refrigerator drawers.

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“Store your fruits and vegetables separate from each other. Fruits release ethylene gas and that will cause everything else to spoil faster,” Richard said.

As for those berries that perish quickly, rinse them in a vinegar and water solution.

Maybe some apple cider vinegar or white vinegar and water,” Richard said. “That will kill the mold spores we aren’t able to see.”

Those leafy green vegetables take an extra step, too.

You can wrap heads of lettuce in a damp paper towel and that will keep the freshness longer.”

If your leafy greens look wilted or your carrots feel soft, don’t toss them out just yet.

They aren’t necessarily bad. You can perk those up by chopping and placing them in an ice-water bath,” Richard said.

If you really don’t think your produce will last another day on the shelf, cook it and keep it for later.

“Throw into a vegetable soup. Sauté it, make a veggie frittata or an omelet, put it in a stir-fry. You can either cook things and eat it for that meal or cook something and freeze it,” Richard said.

Richard added that whole grains, like cooked brown rice, freeze well, too. Also, you can extend the serving of chicken or beef in your kitchen by layering that protein into a dish like pasta, instead of serving the whole cut as a meal.

Richards said these tips will help you stretch those food dollars and keep a well-balanced diet.

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