We've all experienced sticker shock at the grocery store over the last few years, where everything from meat and dairy to produce and consumer goods have doubled–sometimes tripled in price. It's enough to stop you in your tracks to decide whether you really need that item or not. Easy to do with potato chips; not so much with staples like milk and eggs.
Here are tips for preventing premature spoilage.
- Salad greens. Salads are a great way to get healthy vegetables. But who hasn't gone to the fridge and discovered that once-crisp leafy greens have turned sad and slimy? Self magazine recommends rinsing leafy greens as soon as you get them home and drying them all the way—perhaps in a salad spinner. If you don't dry the leaves, they'll wilt and go bad in half the time. It also helps to wrap the leaves in a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
Lemons. Your lemons will last longer if you keep them in a re-sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator instead of on the counter. You can keep them fresh and edible for a few weeks.
Avocadoes. Pit-heavy fruits can be hard as rocks when you buy them, then turn to mush in a few days. Food experts say you should squeeze your avocado gently before storing it. If the skin yields, it's ripe: eat or store in fridge for up to three days. If it's very hard, leave it on your counter for four to five days and check for ripeness daily.
Bananas. A handful of fruits emit ethylene gas to ripen themselves, and bananas are one of them. Wrapping the tops of bananas in plastic wrap or aluminum foil reduces the amount of ethylene emitted and slows the ripening process. Another way is to store them on a banana hook, where there is plenty of air circulation around the bananas.
Berries. Strawberries and other berries can be pricey when not in season, especially during the winter months. However, it can be really hard to keep them fresh. The key to the process may be washing before you eat them, rather than washing the whole batch. Some recommend giving the berries a hot-water bath of about 12 seconds to inhibit mold growth, and then refrigerate. You can also extend their life by keeping in lidded glass mason jars in the fridge. According to the experts at Shari's Berries, you can also freeze them and they will keep for up to a year.
- Milk. Many new refrigerators have roomy doors with plenty of space to hold salad dressings, jellies, and even a gallon of milk. However, Real Simple magazine notes that storing your milk in the door is not a good practice. The door swings out into your warm kitchen every time it's opened, so anything stored there is living in the warmest part of the fridge. This not only causes bacteria to grow more quickly, the milk could actually curdle. Best to store milk in the back of the fridge.
- Eggs. Another food staple that should not be stored in the refrigerator door is eggs. Store them on an interior shelf where the temperature stays constant. And while eggs rarely spoil, the American Egg Board recommends storing raw, whole eggs in their carton at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. The carton protects the eggs from picking up odors or other flavors and losing moisture.
- Coffee. According to Starbucks coffee educator Major Cohen, storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer causes moisture to condense on the beans or grounds, damaging their flavor. Instead, store coffee in an airtight container kept at room temperature. Grind a few beans at a time as you need them.
- Hamburger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that you should refrigerate or freeze the meat as soon as possible after buying. If in the fridge, keep it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and use it within one to two days. If you're not going to use it that quickly, wrap meat in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil or freezer paper or bags before freezing. Use frozen beef within four months.
- Bread. To make bread last longer, store it in the freezer. Bread, bagels, and rolls can stay in the freezer for up to six months if properly wrapped. To thaw the bread quickly before eating, a few minutes in the toaster or air fryer will do the trick. A bread box is a good way to store bread if you want to keep it on the counter.
- Fresh Herbs. By freezing fresh herbs in either water or olive oil, you can extend their life for several months. Just chop the herbs and place them into an ice cube tray, about 3/4 in each cube. Top the herbs with boiling water to blanch and then place in the freezer. This process works well for herbs like mint, basil and dill. However, tougher herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano freeze better with olive oil rather than water. Once frozen, store the cubes in freezer-safe plastic bags for future use.
- Cookies. There usually aren't much leftovers when it comes to sweets but at this time of year we all want our holiday cookies to last as long as possible. Store your cookies in a covered container, and add a piece of bread. The bread will keep them chewy and soft for longer because the cookies will absorb the moisture from the bread. Be sure to use white bread because it won't affect the taste of your goodies.
- Potatoes. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place with good ventilation. Potatoes need airflow to stay fresh, so store them in a container like a basket, open box, or breathable bag. Best not to refrigerate them; the coldness will trigger the potatoes' starches to convert to sugars. Also, store potatoes away from your onions because they will spoil faster. Storing a few apples with your potatoes will keep them from sprouting.
- Mushrooms. Mushrooms will stay fresh longer if you take them out of their container. Wrap them in paper towels placed in open plastic or paper bags and store in the fridge.
TowerCares Foundation Donates to 11 Local Food Banks
Tower members and employees have always been so generous in giving back to the community, and Tower, along with the TowerCares Foundation, is continuing that spirit of giving this holiday season.
To help stock the shelves at local food banks, and help our military heroes, Veterans, and children in need, TowerCares has made a special holiday donation to 11 local food banks. The donation is even more meaningful because the food banks were all nominated by Tower employees!
Each of these food banks will receive a $5,000 donation:
- Anne Arundel County Food Bank
- Caring Cupboard
- FISH of Laurel
- Fort Meade Spouses Club food pantry
- Howard County Food Bank
- Meals on Wheels
Each of these food banks will receive a $500 donation:
- Capital Area Food Bank
- Celestial Manna
- Community Crisis Center
- House of Ruth Maryland
- North County Emergency Outreach Center (NCEON)
To learn more about TowerCares or to make a donation, visit towercaresfoundation.org.