Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to save up to $600 on groceries every year

Have you ever been overly ambitious about eating fresh foods? Did you realize it after you came home from the store and crammed your refrigerator full of fruits and veggies only to discover them again weeks later: a cellophane bag of moldy, slimy mush? Yeah, me too. And it makes me mad because fresh food is so expensive! I received this article via e-mail today from

How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh

Proper Storage Prevents Spoilage, Saving You Hundreds

-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator and Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
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Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater. But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You're not alone.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. And a recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year! That's like throwing away $600!

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn't be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop. To keep your produce optimally fresh (and cut down on food waste), use this handy guide.

Countertop Storage Tips
There’s nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep those apples crisp and all countertop-stored produce fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag.

Refrigerator Storage Tips
For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.
  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.
What to Store Where: A Handy Chart
Use this color-coded key along with the chart below:
  • Store unwashed and in a single layer
  • Store unwashed and in a plastic bag
  • Store in a paper bag
  • *Ethylene producers (keep away from other fruits and vegetables)

Store in Refrigerator

Apples (storage >7 days)



Brussels sprouts



Green beans

Green onions
Herbs (except basil)
Lima beans
Leafy vegetables



Summer squash
Yellow squash

Store on Countertop

Apples (storage < 7 days)


Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Onions (away from potatoes)
Potatoes (away from onions)
Spaghetti squash
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Ripen on Counter,



*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they're picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Use this to your advantage if you want to speed up the ripening process of an unripe fruit, for example, by putting an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, remember to keep them away from ethylene-producing foods, as designated in the chart above.

Food is expensive, and most people can't afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip. Then you'll be able to follow-through with your good intentions to eat your 5-9 servings a day, instead of letting all of that healthy food go to waste.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Getting an accurate idea of grocery spending

Trying to get a snapshot of our budget at any given moment has been a challenge, to say the least. I use MS Money to manage my accounts and I can generate a report, but there have been so many unusual scenarios over the past several months that I am having difficulty determining what we are actually spending on groceries. For instance:

We decided to use some of our economic incentive rebate to stockpile some food items, mainly grass-fed beef. So those are actually grocery costs for more than this month, and I have no idea how long a 1/4 side of beef will last us.

Feeding an extra adult in our home has not really impacted our bottom line...or has it? He contributes $100 a month for food, but his renal diet also requires me to purchase specialty items like rice milk (which is pricey), but something I would not normally buy.

Theoretically, I am feeding five adults (myself, my husband, my teenage daughter, my father-in-law, and my 12 year old son who eats double portions of meat) and one child, a vegetarian. That means I am also buying some specialty items for my 7 year old to ensure that he gets enough protein and B12*.

*I also include all supplemental and vitamin items as a grocery cost: cod liver oil, vitamin C, fiber supplements and multivitamins. I don't practice overkill on the vitamins and supplements, because we do eat a very balanced diet. I order from iHerb, which keeps the costs way down. What we do take in the way of supplements actually helps to reduce expenditures in other areas, such as healthcare and prescriptions.

It appears as though I am spending an average of $125-135 per week on groceries, but I'm not sure if that is an accurate picture, or if I am spending less. With my personality, I have a need to know :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The most wonderful thing about biscotti is...

it's biscotti! Aside from that, the next best thing is the ends of the biscotti. I got to eat all six biscotti ends for breakfast this morning. Here's the biscotti recipe that I used. The next time I will add more anise.

This is an untimely find, since I have just made the decision to give up coffee. For years, I have been aware that coffee aggravates some of my medical issues (rosacea, tummy troubles and inflammation), but I haven't taken the drastic step to give it up...until now. I am doing everything right for my health now, with coffee being the last vice. Ah well, I will eat my biscotti with my green tea.