21 Tricks to Make Groceries Last Longer

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Grocery shopping can be frustrating, especially if you love fresh produce and other perishables. Certain foods, for instance, bananas and bread, have a brief shelf life. So, you’re forced to buy in smaller portions.

But with food that’s more perishable, you can use simple tricks to extend the useful life. Instead of wasting time, money and gas on shopping, here are some ways to make your groceries last longer so you can shop less.

1. Toss spoiled produce

Spoiled produce
Alexander Uhrin / Shutterstock.com

Before storing, examine the contents of each bag and promptly remove food that’s bruised, overripe or on the brink of spoiling. Fruit and vegetables in this condition release ethylene gas that can spoil good produce.

You can also purchase an ethylene gas absorber to delay the ripening process.

2. Use glass Mason jars

Mason jar
Zigzag Mountain Art / Shutterstock.com

With glass Mason jars, you won’t have to worry about being exposed to BPA that may be in plastic containers. Also, Mason jars do not stain, and many people believe that produce lasts a few days longer. Find Mason jars at Amazon.

3. Butter and wrap the cut edge of cheese

Cheese slices
HandmadePictures / Shutterstock.com

Tired of cheese quickly drying out? Here’s a trick: Apply a thin layer of butter to the exposed side, wrap the block in waxed paper and place it in a plastic bag.

4. Puncture plastic produce bags

Carrots in plastic bag
Janis Smits / Shutterstock.com

Poke a few holes in those produce bags you get at the grocery store. Otherwise, they’ll trap moisture that causes most produce to break down faster. (Sometimes a tight seal is needed on a plastic storage bag: See tip No. 21.)

5. Use the freezer

Frozen foods
Yuliia Mazurkevych / Shutterstock.com

Frozen banana pops are my favorite for two reasons: They preserve unused bananas, and they taste great.

Freezing works well for most fruits and vegetables, as long as they are consumed within eight to 12 months.

Just remember to label them so you don’t find yourself eating something that’s been hiding in the back of the freezer for a decade.

6. Shrink-wrap the crown of bananas

Bananas
Nataly Studio / Shutterstock.com

It only takes a few seconds to secure some plastic wrap around the crown of a bunch of bananas. This curbs the release of ethylene gas.

7. Bundle up herbs

Herbs
Oliver Hoffmann / Shutterstock.com

Herbs can be displayed like a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a vase of water. Doing this keeps the herbs alive a lot longer without taking up refrigerator space. Just be sure to trim the end of the stems first.

8. Store counter items away from windows

Pears on a window sill
iwka / Shutterstock.com

It may be convenient to store melons or pears on an area of the kitchen counter closest to the window, and they do look nice in the light, but don’t do it unless you want them to ripen faster. Sunlight speeds up the ripening process.

9. Keep onions in pantyhose

Onions
Jiraporn Fakchaiyaphum / Shutterstock.com

Drop an onion in each foot, tie a knot above it and continue this pattern until you fill the legs. Hang the pantyhose in a cool, dry, dark place, such as a pantry or closet. When you need an onion, just snip one free.

According to Lifehacker:

“Apparently keeping the onions dry, able to breathe, separated, and suspended in the air maximizes their shelf life.”

10. Don’t immediately slice and dice

Hand slicing fruit
Ievgen Tytarenko / Shutterstock.com

Planning for the week ahead is a good idea. But be careful of slicing and dicing too far in advance; it reduces the life of produce.

Of course, if you must get chopping, a little lemon juice helps produce last longer before it starts to brown.

11. Wrap greens in foil

Broccoli
Mikhaylovskiy / Shutterstock.com

When wrapped in foil, broccoli, lettuce and celery will last in the fridge for a month or more.

12. Stabilize the refrigerator’s temperature

Hand adjusting thermostate in fridge.
Nils Petersen / Shutterstock.com

Aim for 40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the growth of toxic food bacteria. You don’t want the temperature so cold that your food freezes. On the other hand, a refrigerator that is too warm encourages spoilage, and that’s throwing money away.

13. Use paper bags for mushrooms

Mushrooms spilling out of paper bag.
Yellow Cat / Shutterstock.com

Plastic bags are a haven for moisture. They cause mushrooms to mildew. When a grocer offers paper bags next to the mushroom display, be sure to use one.

14. Place tomatoes upside down on the counter

Tomatoes on a wood table
Lotus_studio / Shutterstock.com

If the stem was removed before purchase, place the tomatoes upside down so air won’t seep into the small opening, which expedites ripening.

Tomatoes ripen quickly and should be eaten soon after they are purchased. For the freshest taste, keep unripe tomatoes outside the refrigerator. When they are fully ripe, though, put them in the refrigerator to extend their life, says Food52.

15. Keep the refrigerator tidy and organized

Refrigerator
George Dolgikh / Shutterstock.com

It is convenient to leave expired items in the corner of the fridge until you have time to purge. However, mold content in one area of the fridge can expand to other areas, contaminating open products.

Also, refrigerator clutter reduces the circulation of cool air and creates warm spots.

16. Store milk away from the refrigerator door

Milk
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

The temperature is cooler on the middle shelf of a refrigerator. That’s the place to store things that could spoil quickly.

17. Segregate produce and meats

beef
puhhha / Shutterstock.com

Allowing fresh produce and meats to mingle creates the risk of cross-contamination and causes rapid spoilage.

Meats should be wrapped and stored near the bottom of the refrigerator or freezer (in case they leak). To be extra safe, place meats in a bowl to catch any liquid.

18. Reseal prepackaged goods

Salad bag
vincent noel / Shutterstock.com

When you keep goods sealed, air will remain in the package and items won’t quickly harden or dry out.

19. Freeze bread

Bread
gpointstudio / Shutterstock.com

Freezing bread stops the onset of mold, which can spread like wildfire and quickly contaminate an entire loaf.

Also, try storing half of the loaf in the fridge and the other half in the freezer.

20. Store leftovers in airtight glass containers

Glass leftovers
Zoeytoja / Shutterstock.com

Airtight lids keep air out. And with glass, you don’t have to worry about chemicals from plastic leaching into your food.

21. Store lemons and limes in the fridge

Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock.com

Are you tempted to store lemons, limes and other bright-colored citrus fruits on the counter? They certainly do look great in a bowl.

Don’t do it. Instead, seal them in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator to keep them fresh longer. The extra humidity helps retain moisture. Alternatively, store citrus fruit in a bowl of water in the fridge, says Food52.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Here’s the Average Retirement Age in Your State
Here’s the Average Retirement Age in Your State

Are you on track to retire at the same age as most residents of your state?

15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

2-Minute Money Strategy: How Should I Invest My Retirement Savings?
2-Minute Money Strategy: How Should I Invest My Retirement Savings?

If retirement is on the horizon, you can’t afford to take too much risk, but you also need to make as much as possible. Here are your options.

5 Reasons You Should Not Delay Retirement
5 Reasons You Should Not Delay Retirement

Could you be waiting too long to quit working?

The 14 Most Deadly Car Models
The 14 Most Deadly Car Models

These vehicles are involved in fatal accidents at least twice as often as the average car.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect
Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect

Your third coronavirus payment will be the biggest yet — and possibly even bigger than you realize.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.