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10 Ways to Make Your Groceries Last Longer

Tired of finding slimy mushrooms in your crisper drawer? Wondering how to make that delicious loaf of bread from the bakery stay fresh longer? Here are the best practices for giving the goods from your last grocery trip the longest shelf life possible.

1. Be sure mushrooms are mush-free.

Place them in a sealed brown paper bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Stored in absorbent, breathable paper, mushrooms won't become slimy or spotted as they do when kept in a plastic bag.

 

See Our Mushroom Recipes

2. Keep your basil fresh.

Basil is delicate, there's no denying that. It seems to start turning brown as soon as you bring it home. To keep it green and fresh, trim the ends and stand them straight up in a tall glass of water. Loosely cover the basil with the plastic bag it came in; this will extend its life for a couple of days.

 

See how, plus how to preserve other herbs:

ALSO: Watch How to Chop Herbs
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3. Care for your fromage.

While aged cheeses are already months or years old when you buy them, other cheeses are fresh and far more perishable. You can keep both aged and fresh at their prime properly. Keep cheeses in the crisper of the refrigerator, wrapped in cheesecloth or parchment paper. Avoid plastic wrap and foil -- these materials don't let cheese breathe -- but if these are the only materials you have on hand, leave the rind exposed so air can reach the cheese. To prevent cheese odors from permeating other foods, put it in a secure plastic container.

 

Learn More About Buying and Storing Cheese

4. Watch out for those bad apples.

Ever hear the old adage, "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch"? It's true! And it's not just for apples. Keep watch over your produce and pluck out any item that starts to go bad as soon as you see it.

 

Turn Those Apples Into A+ Pies

5. Preserve olive oil in a dark bottle.

Heat and sunlight are two of olive oil's worst enemies. To prevent the oil from going rancid, if it doesn't come in a dark-tinted bottle, decant it into one and place it far away from the stove. (Pro tip: Stainless steel cruets will help preserve the oil by protecting it from light and air.)

 

Use your olive oil in these Mashed Potatoes wth Garlic and Sage

 

Or Use It in This Olive Oil Cake with Red Grapes
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6. Buy unsalted, unchopped nuts.

They last longer than ones that are salted and chopped. Additionally, because nuts contain a high percentage of oil, they can become rancid more quickly in warm weather. Peanuts as well as almonds, pecans, and other tree nuts are best stored in a set of airtight containers in the fridge for up to six months (or in the freezer for up to a year).

 

Use Your Nuts in This Irresistible Toffee-Nut Snack Mix
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7. Store fish over ice

Fish should be cooked as soon as possible after purchasing. Until you cook it, rewrap fish tightly in plastic and place in the coldest part of the refrigerator, preferably on ice. (Pro tip: Slowly defrosting discourages "drip loss," so the cooked fish will be moist and the texture firm, but not tough.)

 

Learn More About Selecting and Storing Fish
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Photography by: ANNA WILLIAMS

8. Freeze your fresh bread.

A loaf of bread will dry out fast. That's why the French buy baguettes daily. If you won't be eating the whole loaf in a day or so, cut it in half when you get home from the bakery. Leave half on the counter in a paper bag that you slip into a larger cloth bag, and wrap the other half in plastic wrap and put in the freezer. When you take the bread out of the freezer, leave it wrapped until it defrosts to room temperature. Then warm it in a 400-degree oven for a few minutes.

 

Learn More About Freezing

9. Get Vacuum Sealing

Make better use of your freezer. With air-locked containers, a package of ground beef can be cooked, then divided into meal-size portions and frozen, ready for dinners to come. Freeze leftovers in similar containers and use on those extra-busy nights, or take to work for lunch.

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Photography by: Scheimpflug Digital

10. Ripe or Not?

We all love avocados, but what if you want one for lunch tomorrow and it's still pretty hard? Speed up the ripening process by placing it in a paper bag with an apple or banana. If it's already pretty ripe and you want it to last until Thursday, you need to slow down the ripening process -- so just place it in the fridge.

 

See Our Smashing Avocado Recipes
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