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12 ways to stretch your food dollars

Island Epicure

As the cost of living keeps edging up but incomes, especially on those of us living on pensions or saved-up retirement funds, continuing to eat nutritious foods we like without busting our budgets gets to be more and more of a challenge.
To make the most of your food dollars:
1. Shop the specials. Stock up when coupons or sales reduce net per item prices.
2. Avoid spoilage. Put leftovers in right-sized containers, sans airspace at the top. Cap tightly or cover with plastic wrap. Date and use within 4 days.
3. To keep produce fresh until used, remove lettuce and other greens from the plastic bag you brought them home in. Wrap in a paper towel to absorb moisture. Return to bag and refrigerate. Treated this way, lettuce will stay crisp and fresh until the last leaf of a head is used up.
4. Don’t wash greens until just before you are going to use them. Do wash leaves of lettuce, kale, chard, etc. under running water, pat dry with clean dishtowel, then tear or cut in appropriate sizes for salad or cooking.
5. Make meat last longer: Ground meat will keep in the refrigerator for two days. To keep it longer, break value packs down into portions each containing enough servings for one meal. Put them into freezer bags, squeeze air out, and zip shut. Freeze and use within three months
6. Fresh herbs from your garden: Harvest at their prime. Wash and dry, lay them on a paper towel. Microwave them 30 seconds. Crumble and store in airtight containers, labeled. Baby food jars work well here. So do small chicken or beef granule jars.
7. Keep your refrigerator set below 40 degrees; say 37 or 38.
8. Cool leftovers before refrigerating them. To refrigerate piping hot things warms up the nearby foods already in there.
9. Put foods that would spoil first in the front of your refrigerator.
10. Fruits: Eat the most vulnerable to spoilage first. Grapes and bananas, then pears, apples, oranges, grapefruit, lemons. Avocados are something else. Buy only firm ones. As soon as they yield a tiny bit when squeezed, eat them.
11. If you see any mold on any fruit, toss it. Left with the others, the mold spores will migrate to other pieces of fruit causing their neighbors to mold.
12. Take inventory often. This will help you keep track of what you have and by when you need to use each food item.