Preserving Food: Tips to Extend Perishable Items

Imagine saving 20, 30, 50 or even 70 percent off your grocery bill every month then regrettably throwing half of that food in the trash because it went bad or you didn’t use it before its expiration date. It happens to me every month, so I was happy to learn that there are tips to preserve food from spoiling and I can continue to use my coupons on groceries.

Learn How to Keep Fresh Foods Last Longer, Prevent Throwing Away Food, and Save Money on Groceries

1. Know an item’s expiration date. Almost all canned,  bottled and packaged foods have an expiration date. Ensure you look at the date and write it on the package with a sharpie or marker if needed. Use these fresh packaged items first, or freeze them if you can.

2. Invest in an Ethylene Gas Guardian E.G.G ($25), which will extend the life of fresh fruits and vegetables. The EGC absorbs ethylene gas that’s emitted by most fresh produce. Although some produce can spoil faster from this gas, you can use it in a drawer with those separated fruits/veggies. See this article on RealSimple.com for a complete list.

EGG - Ethylene Gas Guardian Keeps Fruit and Veggies Fresher Longer.

3. Don’t cut or wash the veggies and fruit! I learned this tip awhile ago, and it’s true that if you cut and wash fresh produce days before you eat them, they will spoil. Once you cut into fresh produce, you create a breeding ground for mold by exposing the cells. Grapes are a perfect example, I only wash the amount we are going to eat right away. I keep them in a bowl on the top shelf in my frig, then wash a handful at a time.

Cook it or toss the bad apple in the bunch to preserve the other produce.

4. Toss the rotten apple or banana or kiwi. You know the phrase “One rotten apple spoils the rest.”  When 1 piece of fruit starts going bad, use it right away, so you can extend the life of the other produce.

5. Buy in bulk and freeze half. Like to use those multiple coupons, but can’t eat it all before it goes bad? This is perfect opportunity to freeze half of it. I write the date I bought it on the package or divide larger amounts and put it in freezer safe bags with the date. Then I know which package to use first. This food preserving tip works with bread, milk, cheese, meats, green/red bell peppers, onions (slice first) and many other types of food.

6. No, to organic produce. Unless you can eat organic fruits and vegetables within a week or freeze them, don’t buy those grocery items often. I buy fresh peaches, but I prepare them to freeze for the winter (minus the fuzzy skin).

 

More tips available on LearnVest.com – lots of valuable information on this site for preserving food that ultimately saves you money on groceries!

#Recycling: Electronics and Lightbulbs

Moving and downsizing is a chore and a relief. A chore to sift, sort and figure out where to recycle the things that work or don’t work as well as a relief that those coffee pots, printers, monstrous stereo speakers and all the other miscellaneous electronics and old light bulbs are not going in the trash which eventually wind up in our landfills.

Here’s what my mother and I have sorted out so far – that we’re saving from filling up the local landfill and also where we are recycling/ethically disposing it.

2 automatic coffee makers (probably contains BPA too) –  Environmental Recycling in Bowling Green Ohio (found on Earth911.com)

2 printers (circa 1990s) minus ink cartridges – Environmental Recycling. Best Buy will also accept computer printers and PC peripherals and dispose of them responsibly. Call your local store & ask if they charge a fee.

1 set of monstrous stereo speakers (we are keeping 1 set, once we find the right speaker wires to use) – Best Buy or Environmental Recycling.

3 CFL Lightbulbs – Put them in a plastic bag and drop off at local Lowe’s, Home Depot or hardware store. Look for the CFL recycle bin or ask at the customer service counter. CFL’s do contain a small amount of mercury – you know the type that is found in fish and is a concern for pregnant women and young children. Do you part to reduce the risk of adding more unhealthy mercury levels to our water and landfills.

2 boxes of used VHS tapes – recorded TV movies & shows that we just don’t care to save anymore. Environmental Recycling or Toledo Computer Recycling (check Earth911.com for places closest to your zip code).

Various PC peripherals like keyboards, mouses (mice?), LCD monitor and PC cables – Best Buy and local computer repair shops will disburse these items to the right places for free or a small nominal fee. Call your local store first before you drop them off.

Other electronics and places to recycle:

CD’s and other visual/audio media – If still in good shape and playable consider donating them to your local library, used bookstore (oftentimes you’ll get a store credit), EB Games/GameStop (will also offer you store credit) and check out SecondSpin.com.

Cell Phones – Check with your service provider about returning old cell phones. Oftentimes service providers like Virgin and AT&T will accept older model phones to sell as “refurbished” phones. Also check DigitalTips.org and Cell Phones for Soldiers, which enables service women and men to call home from their overseas duty stations.

Batteries – One time use batteries no longer contain toxic metals, but the casings contain acid, so it’s safe to throw them in your regular trash as long as you put them in sealable plastic bags first. Rechargeable batteries that have lost their charge can be dropped off at designated recycle stations such as Lowe’s and Home Depot or check Call2Recycle.org for other drop-off locations.

 

**Some sources were derived from Family Circle May 2011 magazine.