COVID-19 has thrown us all off our normal routines and schedules. Grocery shopping has always been something I looked forward to. Meal planning, seeking out yummy new snacks, and being the ‘chief nourisher’ of my family has always brought me joy. Unfortunately I have had to dramatically shift my routines since we’ve sheltered in place.
Since we love fresh produce and eat it often throughout the day, and I’m so picky with my firm fruits and veggies, I really hate having anyone (including my husband!) pick them out for me… This change has definitely been a struggle.
After experimenting with a few delivery services and stores, I’ve narrowed down my process to a consistent routine that works pretty well for us:
- A weekly box of fresh produce from Farm Fresh (here’s a link to $15 off your first box).
- An Instacart Delivery from Costco every other week
- A supplementing delivery from a local grocery store as needed.
I’ve added some fresh produce to my Costco orders, but the bulk quantities were sometimes more than we could handle before the food went bad, so I had to figure out how to make them last longer. I hope you find this information useful! It has definitely saved me money and time (and frustration since items aren’t always available, and this way I need to seek them out less often).
To keep a bunch of bananas fresh for longer, wrap the stems in some plastic wrap. Re-cover the bananas with the wrap after removing one. This method prevents ethylene gas, produced naturally in the ripening process, from reaching other parts of the fruit and prematurely ripening it.
The best way to keep apples fresh is to store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator in separate plastic bags. Alternatively, you can place a damp towel on top of the apples to help them maintain moisture
To store pears, keep them in the fridge so they last 1-2 weeks longer. If you’ve already cut up the pears, put the pieces in a sealable bag before refrigerating them. To store pears for several months, cut them into quarters, halves, or slices and soak them in water with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes.
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping your lemons out on the counter (especially if you don’t buy more than you can use before they dry out), they’ll definitely stay fresh longer if you put them in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag.
To extend the shelf life of limes, refrigerate them in a plastic bag. Properly stored, limes will usually keep well for about 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge.
Keep whole melons like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew on the counter for best flavor. USDA research found that storage at room temp may even help keep the antioxidants better intact. Once cut, store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
If the stem rolls off and away from the fruit easily and reveals a bright green patch then your avocado is ripe, and you can store it in the fridge to slow down the ripening process. (if your avocado is underripe, keep it on the counter until it is ready. If it is overripe, eat it right away!)
To keep a cut avocado from turning brown, place it in an airtight container with a halved onion (no need to rub oil or lemon/lime juice.
After washing your lettuce leaves, spin them dry and place the slightly damp greens in a container. A container is best, but you can use a plastic bag if you keep a corner open (to allow some airflow in). Add a few paper towels to absorb excess moisture and you’ll be able to store these greens for seven to 10 days.
To store the tomatoes in the refrigerator or freezer, place them in a zip-top bag and squeeze any extra air out. Put them in the refrigerator for up to a month or stick them in the freezer. To store tomatoes in oil, sterilize a mason jar by boiling it for 10 minutes.
To store cucumbers in the refrigerator for longer, wash and dry them well, and put them in a ziplock bag and keep a corner open (to allow some airflow in). Add a few paper towels to absorb excess moisture
Once the greens are trimmed off, all you have to do to keep the carrots crisp and fresh is put them in a container of water and store in the refrigerator! Whole carrots stay nice and crunchy in their cold water bath, and this is also a great way to store packaged baby carrots. If the water starts to look cloudy, just swap it out with fresh water as needed. Stored this way, carrots have lasted weeks
Partially-eaten peppers will last longer by storing them in a sealed container with the seeds and stems still attached. For cut Bell Peppers, store them in a sealed container or plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Keep them in your crisper drawer
To store zucchini in the fridge, keep the squash whole, dry and unwashed. Store them in a plastic or paper bag with one end open to encourage air circulation, and pop them in the refrigerator crisper drawer. They’ll keep there for 1 to 2 weeks, though you’ll probably see the skin start to shrivel over time.
Whole onions and shallots (and potatoes) are best stored in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated room. Ideal places include the pantry, cellar, basement or garage. (a cardboard box houses ours)
Peeled onions can be stored in the fridge for 10–14 days, while sliced or cut onions can be refrigerated for 7–10 days
Raw ground meats and poultry packed at the counter should be cooked in 2 days, and roasts, steaks, and chops should be cooked in five days. Prepackaged meats and poultry come with a ‘best by’ date. They will last longer if you freeze them right away.
To defrost meats & poultry safely, either let them thaw in the refrigerator for a day/two, or place them in a sealed ziplock bag and submerge them in a large bowl with cold water. Swap the water out every 30min. until the meat has thawed completely and cook with it right away.
Packaged deli meats can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before opening. After opening a package of deli meats or buying sliced deli meats at a deli, you can refrigerate them for 3 to 5 days. Keep your refrigerator at 40 ° F / 4.4 °C or less).
Bread actually goes stale faster in the refrigerator than it does at room temperature. The best way to keep bread at its best is to keep it at room temperature for a day or two, then slice it, wrap it up and freeze it for longer-term storage. When you thaw it and heat it up, it will taste freshly baked again.
Freeze Your Cheese for Later. The easiest way to prevent cheese from spoiling before you can use it up is to freeze it. … Shred the cheese, place it in an airtight, resealable plastic freezer bag, and freeze it for up to three months. (Or just put the store-bought bag of shredded cheese directly into the freezer.)
To freeze butter, place it inside a heavy-duty freezer bag.
Frozen salted butter will keep at best quality for up to 12 months, unsalted butter will stay at best quality for about 6 months.
To thaw frozen butter quickly, defrost the butter in the microwave in short (10-second) bursts at a low temperature until softened. Or grate frozen butter using the large holes of a cheese grater; it will thaw quickly.
If you’re not in a hurry, you can thaw frozen butter in the refrigerator; it will take about 6 to 7 hours for a pound of butter. You can also submerge the butter (in a tightly sealed plastic bag) in cold water; it will thaw in about half an hour to an hour.
QUESTION: Have you discovered new ways to extend the life of some of your favorite foods? How are you shopping differently these days?