We all know how expensive groceries can become especially when you move between seasons or making a huge shift in how you feed yourself and your family.
Making healthy nutritional choices doesn’t have to break the bank nor does it have to become an overwhelming experience. While you might think you’re saving money (i.e. buying processed foods instead of fresh produce, etc) by not buying organic and locally sourced produce (get my FREE quick and easy grocery guide for the EWG recommendations for produce in 2017), or stocking up on frozen meals, the truth is that the hidden health costs associated with these types of low quality “foods” are extremely high.
Don’t be deceived by marketing gimmicks and misinformation campaigns promoted by both big agribusiness and the processed food industry. Labels on our foods matter and so do the methods of food production. Foods that have been cultivated using conventional means (i.e. large-scale pesticide and herbicide use, etc) are much more likely to contain damaging levels of these residues. We as consumers can not rely on these industries to “self-regulate” as their track records have shown them to be less than honest when it comes to putting consumer safety and health above their stock portfolios.
Also, while the FDA and USDA have traditionally been the only real advocate for consumers, both agencies have been severely hindered and compromised by lobbying interests as well as well-crafted efforts to defund these agencies in an effort to misinform the public regarding our food sources, what’s in our foods, labeling practices by the processed food industry and big agribusiness.
The reality is this: what food you put in your mouth will either poison or nourish your body, depending on where it comes from. If it comes from a country with no or poorly standardized food safety requirements (i.e. mercury levels in fish, pesticide use in produce, additives in frozen, processed and or packaged foods, etc), YOU need to SERIOUSLY rethink your food choices!!
Part of being able to feed your family with safe nutritious foods means you must adopt a sustainable way of accessing the right foods for your table. In practical terms, that means finding ways to minimize waste and unnecessary costs due to spoilage and improper food storage.
With that in mind here are a few quick tips:
1. Store dairy products at the back of the fridge. While it may make for easy access, keeping your milk at the front of the fridge makes it more prone to spoilage due to temperature differences. This is because the back of the fridge is colder and will, therefore, give your dairy products are longer shelf life.
2. Place your meats on the bottom shelf so that their juices do not drip on other food items (i.e. produce, etc) and contaminate them. If space is an issue, place your meat products on a tray or inside a leak-proof container in order to catch any drippings. Better yet, prep and package your meats into manageable portions (i.e. serving sizes for soups, meals, etc) and then store them in the freezer until you’re ready to cook your meals. Also, separate lunch meats from raw meats in order to prevent illness associated with cross-contamination.
3. Like any other plant, well-hydrated herbs will last longer and be less likely to spoil when you store them properly. Fresh herbs, like basil, asparagus, and green onions will last a good while if you store them upright in a jar of fresh water. Simply trim the stems, cover them with a piece of plastic wrap, and place them in the refrigerator for storage and use as needed.
4. Be aware of where to store fruits and vegetables. Not all fruits and veggies require refrigeration and in some instances, refrigeration affects the taste quality of some fruits and vegetables. For instance, avocados (yes, technically it’s a fruit because it has a seed y’all), citrus, bananas, nectarines, pears, peaches, onions, tomatoes, and potatoes do best outside of your fridge at room temperature or in your pantry. A quick warning though; don’t store onions and potatoes together due to the ethylene gas which can cause them to spoil each other faster.
5. I’ve been doing this for years ( thanks, momma), but did you know it really helps when you wrap your greens in paper towels. They’re great at preventing slimy residue from accumulating and making a science experiment in your bag of lettuce, spinach, or other leafy greens. Simply use paper towels to soak up excess moisture and lightly wrap your green in a few paper towels. This also works for leftover salad greens in food storage containers (minus the salad dressing of course).
6. Cover the crown of your bunches of bananas with plastic wrap. It helps to slow the release of that ethylene gas which is the meany responsible for breaking (the natural process that causes your produce to spoil) down one of my go-to mid-morning snacks. This is a good way to preserve your bananas if you’re not going to eat them right away.
7. Did you know wrapping your bunches of celery in foil helps it stay fresh and crunchy for up to as much as four weeks? Yep, wrapping it up in foil and then placing it in your fridge’s crisper drawer will help extend the life of your celery. The foil does this by allowing just the right amount of moisture in, and the ethylene gas out.
8. Stop! Don’t wash all your produce at once. I know it’s counter-intuitive but it’s much better to wash your produce as you go if you want to maximize its shelf life. Unless you plan on freezing your food, you should only be washing things you’re ready to eat right away or soon after. This will reduce the chances of mold growing on damp produce.
9. Another “who’d a thunk it?” If you want to keep those berries mold free, soak them in vinegar. If you’re not going to consume them all at once, simply quick soak your berries in a solution of three parts water, one part vinegar in order to kill bacteria and prevent molding. Once you’ve done that, give the berries a thorough pat dry and store in the fridge.
10. Another great time saver and a great way to preserve your veggies to simply roast them prior to storage. By roasting vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, you can extend their shelf life. Not only that, it’s also a great meal prep tip to have cooked veggies on hand that you can quickly incorporate into any meal.
11. I can say this enough! Store grains in air-tight containers!! While buying in bulk is a great way to save money when grocery shopping, you want to make sure that you store it correctly so the extra food doesn’t go to waste. It’s critical that you make sure to transfer your grains into an airtight container to maintain freshness, as well as keep those pesky bugs away. Do yourself a favor by labeling your containers with the purchase dates so you’re able to keep track of expiration dates and avoid wasting stored foods.
12. Always Double-check your fridge’s temperature especially as the seasons’ change (i.e. summer vs. winter months). You want to make sure that your fridge is set at the correct temperature and that your thermostat is in proper working order to prevent spoilage and reduce the risk of food born illnesses. The recommended temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degree Celsius for those of you who are using the mks measurement system.
If you’re still not sure where to begin, grab my FREE Pantry Detox Gude GUIDE HERE
For the complete Introductory Produce, Shopping Guide grab a copy HERE!!
Freedom At The Crossroads Founder
Tonye Tariah, Holistic Health Strategist and founder of Freedom at The Crossroads Blog, helps free women from inaction and unhealthy habits so they can get fit, healthy, and live free. Her approach is “the cookie cutter method only works for cookies,” meaning she helps each person in a unique way helps them transform their lives from the inside out. She’s not about helping you lose weight quick. She’s about changing your habits and helping you fall in love with yourself so you can live a life with pure joy.