Earlier this month, new research was released that showed it really isn't more expensive to eat according to USDA guidelines than to maintain a steady diet of junk food. Still, one gripe that many have about fresh, nutritious food is how quickly it can go bad (especially compared to that boxed pastry on grocery store shelves). So we asked Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini to fill us in about the best ways to save dough while shopping in the produce aisle.
- Keep onions, potatoes and garlic out of the refrigerator. Place them in a cool, dark and dry spot. And to try Pavini's top trick, grab an extra pair of nylon stockings next time you're at the drugstore. She swears that onions last longer if you store them in the legs of stockings!
- Store apples in a separate crisper. Since the fruit emits ethylene which can increase the ripening speed of other produce in your fridge, keep them in the bag you carried them to the register in and pop them in a bin solo.
- Ripen in a paper bag. Your supermarket may have some foods on special if they're not quite ripe. Stock up and save: Buy underripe pears, peaches and nectarines and get them ready to eat by putting them in a brown paper bag (at room temperature).
- Prep greens for easy eating. Wash leafy greens and herbs under cold water, drain in a colander and store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with a few paper towels. They'll be more appealing to add to a meal when they're pre-washed, and the early cleaning of these items doesn't increase their spoilage speed.
- Purchase multi-pound bags. Those five-pound sacks of oranges, apples, potatoes, etc. must weigh at least five pounds, so many often have an extra quarter- or half-pound for free (since they're not going to cut an item in half to exactly meet the limit).
- Buy frozen. If the ingredients list just produce, the bagged, frozen version generally tastes comparable to fresh after cooking. Plus, you're much more likely to find a coupon for an item on ice.
- Don't be tricked by buy one, get one deals. Strawberries on sale this season? Only buy two boxes if you're sure you can make it through them in a couple days (they spoil quickly). If you did get lured in to the savings, pop extras in the freezer for smoothies and extend the life of fresh ones by skipping the rinse cycle until you're ready to snack.