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Storing Groceries

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A paper bag full of groceries
Once you get your groceries home, it is important to preserve their freshness by storing them properly. This guide is about storing groceries.
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June 21, 2006

We all like to save money and stock up on good grocery bargains when we find them. However, we want them to stay fresh until we're ready to use them. This is the best solution that I've found.

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Many items can be kept fresh a long time in the fridge or freezer when unopened or even after opening if sealed well, such as in a ziploc bag. (Don't use the new zipper type though, just the original Ziploc). Bags of potato chips or cookies, boxes of cereal or crackers all do very well in the fridge or freezer. They absolutely will not get soggy if sealed properly.

I've stored things like this for a few months and they remained fresh until ready to use. I even store surplus hand lotion, face cleansing cream, and the like in the fridge for several months. It keeps it from getting rancid and stale. Try it, you'll be surprised.

By Laura from Elberta, AL

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By 1 found this helpful
August 6, 2012

Do you ever discover that you have meat, cheeses, or produce stored in your refrigerator that was fine when purchased, but within a few days is now past its prime - sometimes even beyond saving? Of course we all do! As a frugal person, believe me, you know this really stinks - sometimes literally!

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As more of us try to eat healthfully on a budget, we know that fresh foods are usually better for us and more flavorful, yet they represent a significant investment and need more care than non-perishable foods. Here are tips to ensure that you get the best of your perishable purchases, every time.

  1. Allow time after your grocery run to take care of processing perishable items immediately after you return home. This means you make it a habit of remembering that "If I buy fresh meat or fruits, I'll need 10 - 15 minutes when I get home to take care of my purchases." Don't do your shopping for these items when it would be inconvenient to do the processing as well. This is also the best time to assess if perishable items should be left ready to serve or should be frozen, depending on your menu plans.
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  3. When in doubt, it's better to freeze raw meat rather than not. You can always take it back out of the freezer to thaw. You can't make it fresh again after it isn't.
  4. Keep on hand vacuum storage bags, waxed paper, food wrap, foil, plastic bags, plastic containers, or whatever you prefer. Just be sure you're always stocked with these items so there's no excuse not to properly wrap your meats. And keep a marker handy for labeling the date you froze the item.
  5. Increasingly, some producers are packaging meat so it can be popped straight into the freezer. Whole birds are packaged this way and some producers of chicken parts are doing the same. These can be a superior deal as not only can you get them more quickly to your freezer, they are fresher because they've had better packaging since they were processed in the factory.

  6. I shop two stores regularly. One store is where I purchase most staples, and I buy most of my meats at a second grocery store that sells excellent chicken breasts, thighs, and leg quarters packaged ready for the freezer.
  7. If you buy family packs of meat, take the extra minute to process them so they are frozen or packaged in meal sizes. Take a 4 pound package of ground beef and divide it: 1 pound frozen for spaghetti sauce, another pound frozen for tacos, 2 pounds pattied and frozen for hamburgers. Always freeze steaks individually.
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  9. Purchase a good salad spinner. Not only is this good for preserving lettuce and other greens for salads, but it's also useful for berries and grapes as well. You can also use the strainer basket to wash fruit or drain foods. Should you also process that head of lettuce when you get home? If it's not well packaged to begin with, you may find that washing, drying, and storing it in the salad spinner immediately preserves it longer than storing it in the original packaging. It also helps you get the most out of your purchase by ensuring that the lettuce is ready to go when you need it.
  10. Speaking of berries and grapes, they can be beautiful in the store one day, and the next day they're all growing beards in your fridge. This is no fun even if you bought them in season when they're likely to be at their best and on sale. Make the most of your investment; keep them fresh for several days by making a vinegar and water bath. Take 1 part vinegar to 2 parts cool water, immerse the fruits in them for a couple of minutes, then drain and DRY the fruit either by processing in a salad spinner with several paper towels or a dish towel to cushion the fruit, or by patting dry gently with towels. Why? The vinegar retards the natural fungal growths that spoils fruit so quickly. Store in covered containers in the fridge.
  11. When you open cheese, make sure you store it in a resealable container or plastic bag to retard drying and spoiling.
  12. Source: Berry processing - Cook's Illustrated

    By nhe from Denton, TX

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November 18, 20050 found this helpful

When stockpiling grocery items in your home, make sure to store them in an area that can be easily cleaned in case anything were to get cold or hot and ooze out or overflow.

By Terri from NV

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By 0 found this helpful
December 10, 2011

You know you can save money on fruit and vegetable by shopping once a week, but throwing out spoiled food is a waste of food and money.

Plan your meals to use vegetables with a shorter shelf life, like salad items, first. Then use the less perishable items, like root vegetables later in the week.

Put softer fruits like bananas, berries and stone fruits in the fruit bowl straight after purchasing and bring out apples and oranges and the longer lasting fruit later.

By Sharon B. from Sydney, Australia

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
September 10, 2008

When I purchase an item in bulk, it all ends up in the spare bedroom - like an 8 pack of paper towels, for instance. Needless to say, that room is becoming a catch-all. Where and how would you store non-perishable groceries and paper goods?

Holly from Richardson, TX

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September 10, 20080 found this helpful

I installed shelves in my laundry room for extras such as this. Think up! Items you don't need everyday can be stored higher up! I also converted the bottom of a hallway coat closet to store items and put a hanging shelf on the inside of the door for small items.

Perhaps you could convert your spare bedroom closet into a pantry with shelves (or old bookcase) for organized storage? If there is a bed in the spare room, put rolling carts under it for easy pull-out storage! Hide with a bedskirt. :)

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

I added big shelves in my laundry room too. It is a great way to shop & save $.

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

I have shelves in my laundry room, and my closet in the kitchen by the back door is converted to a pantry. I already have 2 other closets for outside clothes at the other doors, so this one is better utilized as a pantry. Perhaps you have a closet in some other area of the house that you could convert to shelving for storing these items.

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

I would make one entire wall floor to ceiling shelves in the spare bedroom, then hang a beautiful curtain in front of it. no one will ever know all the storage is back there and you will have everything in one place. can be used for linens and towels too and seasonal clothes.

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

I often find that stuff up off the floor makes me feel better, too. If you have any kind of ailment of the joints, doc's recommend you raise your bed. If you do, you may find room under their for things like the case items you get in bulk. I also find that having tables that double as a storage unit like cubes with lids on top or "even better" on the side, can double for storage. A lot of times, if you make a note of the directions, you can pour lots of "packages" together and scoop out just what you need. I once got a deal on mac/cheese, then put all the pasta in one 5 gallon tub and the packages of cheese in another. I knew I needed 1.5 cups per box, so I just kept a scoop in there that was just the right size.

If you historically get cases of soda, for instance, you can build customized shelves without breaking the bank. Measure the soda cases from top to bottom, then get some plywood and cut pieces for the shape of the cases. Make the supports out of blocks of 4" by 4" or cinder pieces, giving yourself some "finger room", etc. You can literally stack them as high as you want (make sure you have a good sturdy floor). Then, if you need to, you can take off some layers or add them for other things.

If you are a bulk buyer from way back, and you know others who are too, try this.

Join or form a co-op. Friends who are like-minded shoppers are more likely to have their own ideas, and who knows, maybe someone has a garage where you can all pitch in and build a "mini store" inside, keeping everyones extras safe and dry.

I did this with a sister, friend, and daughter. I had the van, so every two weeks I went with their lists and mine. If each person doesn't need 50 chicken breasts, but each person might need say...10...you can split the food and the costs.

Of course, this is easier if you are dealing with TP, Cat Litter, or canned goods, but with a little work, it can be done with bulk food, too.

Good luck!

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September 11, 20080 found this helpful

This has nothing to do with storing bulk items but buying them. I live alone so I don't buy a lot of things in bulk. However, I noticed that the paper towels that I like were $8.35 for an 8-pack but the single rolls; same ply, same amount of sheets were 97¢ a roll. I wonder how many people just grab the 8-pack and don't check the price difference.

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September 12, 20080 found this helpful

We have a 2-1/2 car garage. On one side my hubby and son built a pantry with shelves on 3 sides. ( Still room for 2 cars ) We have canned goods stacked or in boxes labled. I make sure they are rotated by expiration dates. The other half of that space houses my washer/dryer and rack for hanging up clothes as they come out of the dryer.It also has shelves above for storage for seasonal decorations, laundry supplies, paper products and cleaning supplies. Handy when we don't feel like making a trip to town.And I buy only when prices are best. Right now I have been able to buy CA.and OR. grown/canned fruit & vegetables 2/$99 cents.Every thing else is grown in the U.S.A. or I don't buy it. Takes time to read lables..GG Vi

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 12, 20080 found this helpful

I buy the large Rubbermaid storage units that are sold in Target, Sears, Lowes etc They come in 60 gallon up to 90 gallon capasity.I store my bath tissue and paper towels in one out on my porch,We have about 8 of them and store things outside, they don't leak and they are neat looking. I have a tall one for my mops, brooms and shovels and also keep it by the outside door on the porch so I can just grab it in a hurry even in the winter. They are the greatest unites for storage, and the dogs love to jump up on them and sleep in warm weather.

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