Tips to Avoid Wasting Perishable Food

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

When food spoils prematurely, I feel like I’ve wasted my money and end up literally throwing it away.  In fact, any time I end up throwing away food because of my own failure to store it properly, use it in a timely manner,  or for undetermined reasons, I get frustrated because it wastes money from my grocery budget. Part of the reason I’ve noticed more waste in the last few years is that I’ve increased the quantity of fresh foods in my diet, which isn’t something I’m willing to change. The dietary effect of items that are so well-preserved that they can sit in your fridge for years and still look (and smell) like the day you bought them should be questioned! Although I’m sure there will always be something that spoils inn my refrigerator before it’s used, there are at least a few things I can do to prevent some of it and save money (not to mention, get to enjoy the food I purchased!) Here are a few tips from myself and other experienced perishable food buyers.

Check Your Temps
Higher rates of spoilage could be a sign that your refrigerator temperature is set too low (below 38 degrees), or that it’s not maintaining its temperature and needs to be replaced. Because some fridge have number settings instead of temperatures, place a thermometer in it to determine exactly how cold your items are getting.

Store Strategically
Until recently I had no idea there was a strategy to where you place certain food items in your refrigerator. For instance, you should place milk on the shelf inside your fridge, and not in the door, because the door temperature doesn’t get as cold. Reserve the door for condiments, butter, and items that aren’t as likely to spoil. Meat should be placed on the bottom, interior drawer of your refrigerator to maintain the coldest possible temperature and keep other items free from contamination. Storing certain produce items together in your refrigerator can cause them to spoil faster, and some produce shouldn’t be refrigerated at all (tomatoes, potatoes, and tropical fruit, to name a few).

Notice Trends
If you’re not going through a particular portion of dairy, meat, or produce before it spoils, it’s a good sign you should buy it in smaller measurements. I caught on to this when I couldn’t manage to get to the bottom of my fresh spinach before it spoiled. Now that I use the smaller container, it usually stays fresh long enough for me to use it up. Are you throwing away a lot of milk, cheese, or fresh produce? You probably need to downsize your shopping.

Another trend to notice is which brands (or stores) you consistently have to throw away before expiration dates, and stop buying them. It also doesn’t hurt to talk to the store management about your problem to see if you can get a refund, as well as call or email the manufacturer to file a complaint. Speaking up about a quality issue helps not only yourself, but other consumers.

Shop Smart; Cook Smart
Sometimes excess spoilage is just a case of poor menu planning. This is why it’s a good idea to have your week’s menu tentatively planned before you shop, and make a plan for everything you buy that has a shelf life.  Even if you’ve shopped smart, you’ll still end up with items that are nearing their danger zone. Make these items a priority in your meals, and work around then. Many recipe apps allow you to search by ingredients so you can find something interesting and palatable with what you have on hand.

Just taking the time to follow these tips can save you a lot of money on your grocery budget and help you become less wasteful. I’ve used them myself and notice a big difference in my ability to keep my money instead of  throwing it away.

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