By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Grocery stores are one of the only places that have remained open during the pandemic. But, many people are cutting down on the number of times they go to the store.

So how can you make your groceries last longer? Good Question.

“One of the ways to make our food last longer is the step that a lot of people don’t do,” said Kathy Brandt, a University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator. “And, that’s planning ahead.”

She suggests taking inventory of what’s in the refrigerator and cupboard, thinking about what the family will eat that week and making a list.

“I’m a big fan of using a marker or a Sharpie to date my products so I know when I bought them,” said Suzanne Driessen, a University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator.

Driessen also recommend moving items that are in the back of the refrigerator to the front, so it’s more likely to get used.

Driessen and Brandt both recommend separating fruits and vegetables once they go into the refrigerator. Several fruits give off an ethylene gas, or ripening hormone, that can affect the vegetables.

“If you put an apple with spinach, kale or broccoli, that’s going to make the broccoli, kale and spinach go limp, become yellow and bitter too,” Driessen said.

They recommend keeping vegetables and herbs dry because moisture will break down the tissue. That means waiting for wash fruits and vegetables until you want to use them. That said, they say to wash hands before and after storing the food and preparing it.

“Good food handling practices are still what we’re recommending,” Brandt said. “There’s no change from COVID-19 time.”

Another piece of advice is to freeze meats, breads and baked goods, but not dairy. Brandt said dairy is more susceptible to breaking down once frozen.

Driessen said to store potatoes and onions separately because of the ethylene.

“It’s a good idea to put them in mesh bags,” she said. “I’ve seen other extension websites put them in pantyhose.”

And, it’s true – one rotten apple can spoil the bunch. Remove any decayed or bruised apples because they will produce more ethylene, causing the others to ripen, soften and spoil faster.

Heather Brown

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