How to make your weekly food shop last longer
Updated: Mar 9
Fewer trips to the supermarket, especially right now are definitely a good thing.
Whether your self-isolating, wanting to avoid the queues, save money or reduce the temptation to splurge out of snacks, making your grocery shop stretch that bit further can help you do that.
The key is to reduce the number of perishable items you buy without compromising on healthier options and habits.
Here are my top tips to make your food shop last longer:
1 - Use your freezer
If you normally buy one loaf of bread, buy two and keep one in the freezer.
Meats such as minced beef and fish, that can be cooked from frozen are a quick source of protein.
Most supermarkets do a good selection of frozen fruits and vegetables which have just as many vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts.
Milk, when stored in plastic bottles can be frozen, this is a good option if you're not keen on long-life and plant-based milk.
Eggs can be stored by cracking them individually into a muffin tin and then moving them into a freezer bag once they have frozen.
2 - Try legumes
Canned, dried beans and legumes last for years.
They are highly nutritious and, if you are a meat-eater a can of lentils can replace the beef in a shepherd's pie, or mixed beans can be the basis of chilli - a perfect opportunity to experiment with some vegetarian dishes.
3 - Avoid pre-prepared veg and salad
Whole-veg lasts longer and is cheaper than the bagged option.
You'll find that a bag of salad lasts a couple of days whereas whole lettuce will easily last a week or more.
4 - Learn how to store your food properly
Storing food properly can dramatically extend its life.
It's possible to keep potatoes for several weeks, even months when stored correctly.
Potatoes left in a plastic bag and exposed to light will quickly go mouldy and sprout. Instead, try storing them in a basket in a cool, dark place.
5 - Empty your cupboards
We all gradually accumulate foods in our kitchen cupboards - bags of pasta, various nuts and seeds and random jars from your last health kick.
Now is the perfect time to experiment and use up the foods you'd forgotten about at the back of your cupboard.
There are plenty of websites out there that will help you get creative with your cooking.
6 - If in doubt, don't throw out
It's wise to be cautious with highly perishable foods, but don't always be a slave to the dates on their labels when we should be using common sense.
Check whether or not your fresh fruit and vegetables look and feel ok before you bin them.
It's a good idea to learn the difference between a 'use by' date and a 'best before' date.
A 'use by' is about food safety and foods should not be eaten after this date.
You will find these dates on foods that go off quickly such as meat and dairy.
A 'best before' date is about food quality.
Food can safely be eaten months, and even years after it's 'best before' date, so don't throw away dried foods such as flour, rice, pasta and tinned foods.
The quality might not be perfect after the 'best before' date but chances are you won't taste the difference.
7 - Talk to the kids
If your house is anything like mine, a weekly shop can be decimated in a couple of hours if the kids have anything to do with it.
Set up snack boxes for each child with their names on them.
Place their daily snacks in each and explain that the contents of each box are to last that day and they should not go helping themselves in the cupboards when it's all gone.
After a couple of days of smashing the contents in 10 minutes and then moaning about it, they'll quickly realise that it's wiser to make them last.
Just make sure that you mix up the contents of the boxes with healthy and not so healthy options.
If none of this works, simply set up barb wire and mines around the perimeter of the kitchen, the defences should hold out long enough for you to call reinforcements.
Ben Yates is a personal trainer based at Places Gym Hinckley and Hinckley Leisure Centre in Leicestershire.
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