The best way to buy and store your food

When grocery day rolls around, don't fear. These tips will have you navigating the aisles and storing your produce like a pro.

The best way to buy and store your food

People who shop and store their food logically save a lot, in terms of both cash and valuable time. Making a detailed shopping list reduces the risk of buying too much or making impulse buys. Fresh, high-quality and usually well-priced goods are available straight from the farm or your local farmers' markets. And if you stick to seasonal and regional products, you'll get fresher goods and protect your pocketbook, as well as the environment.

Planning purchases

  • Post the shopping list in a visible spot in the kitchen. That way, anyone who needs something can immediately jot it down. And don't forget to take the list with you when you shop.
  • Making a meal plan for the coming week can help you plan purchases wisely, buying only the necessary ingredients, but be flexible; try to incorporate the specials that are available in the store or supermarket ads.
  • Never shop while hungry; the danger of impulse buys rises exponentially and you're likely to spend more money than you had planned.
  • Opt for generic brands whenever possible. These tasty copycats by reputable companies and are much less expensive.

Storage

Store foods properly. Temperature, light and moisture can affect their appearance, taste and vitamin content. Foods that are stored improperly can easily go bad.

  • Prepackaged goods with a long shelf life, such as dried foods, are best kept in a dark pantry or a dry basement storage room.
  • Even canned goods need to be protected from moisture and great temperature variations.
  • Products kept in jars, bottles or clear plastic bags should be stored in the dark.
  • Stow new supplies behind those you already have on hand.

Carefree shopping

  • It's usually cheaper to buy large packages. You might even share them with neighbours or friends.
  • To reduce garbage, choose multi-use packaging or buy products in bulk.
  • You'll generally find the most economical items on the lower shelves in supermarkets.
  • Commercial classifications (like Grade A) apply only to the appearance and size of goods, not to the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.
  • Look for supermarket freezer cabinets that are neatly organized and not coated with thick ice. If the goods show any sign at all of freezer burn, walk away.
  • Dented cans are best left on the shelves.
  • Don't buy any dairy products with bulging tops — the contents could be spoiled.
  • You can tell when fish is fresh by its clear, bright eyes, bright red gills and shiny, moist skin.
  • Beef should be vibrant red; pork should be pink.

Keep food well-cooled

  • Foods that spoil quickly, such as fish, meat, sausage and prepared foods, belong in the coldest place in the fridge: the meat drawer.
  • Store all dairy products and cheese directly above the meat drawer.
  • Foods that need only minor cooling, such as butter, eggs, drinks and ketchup, are best stored on the top shelf or in the door compartments provided for them.
  • Fruits and vegetables should go in the lower crisper, without packaging.
  • Unpackage thawing meat and store it in a bowl or on a plate in the refrigerator, covered with aluminum foil.
  • Fresh fish will keep for up to a day in the fridge; if cooked, it will last for two to three days.
  • Store eggs in the fridge with the blunt end up; that way, the air remains on top and the inner membrane doesn't dissolve.
  • To avert mold, store blue cheeses separately from other types of cheese.
  • During the cooler months of the year, less delicate fruits and veggies can also be stored on a balcony — but they must be protected from frost and direct sunlight.

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