Five hacks for Lancashire shoppers to make food last longer as grocery costs continue to climb

Food prices are continuing to rise at their fastest rate for 40 years, particularly for staples such as milk and bread.

This has not only forced families to rethink their shopping lists and budgets, but also make sure that the food they’re buying lasts as long as possible, to avoid any waste and save money. Moreover, in light of the recent news that Waitrose are the latest supermarket to announce they’ll also be scrapping best before dates from September, Online Money Advisor have put together five tips on how to check your food is still edible, as opposed to relying on the dates found on labels, along with some other storage hacks to ensure your food stays fresher for longer.

Ignore best before dates (within reason!)

First things first, by eating food past its best before (but not its use by) date, you could save money and make your total monthly spend on groceries go further. Unlike use by dates, best before dates indicate food quality as opposed to food safety. As such, it should be perfectly safe to eat foods after the best before date stated, the food just might not be at its best quality. So, trust your senses instead of the dates on the labels and check how the food smells, tastes and looks. No one wants food poisoning though so if in doubt, just throw it away.

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Keep fresh produce in airtight containers

For celery, strawberries and carrots in particular, they’ll all last much longer when kept in airtight containers and stored in the fridge. Start off by cutting your celery into quarters, placing them in an airtight container and then filling the container with water, making sure to cover your celery completely. Repeat the same process for carrots. With strawberries, cut off the stems and also store your in an airtight container, but this time, line the container with kitchen roll as this’ll work to absorb any excess moisture and keep your strawberries fresher for longer.

Store fruit and veg that emits ethylene gas separately

Potatoes, onions, bananas and apples all emit ethylene gas and therefore must be stored separately. This allows you to enjoy your fruit and veg for longer before they start to spoil and rot. For storing apples specifically, we’d suggest keeping them in a plastic bag and placing them in the crisper drawer of your fridge, while potatoes should be stored at about 4C and in a dark cupboard (this way, they can last up to four months!). When it comes to onions – although an unusual technique – storing them in old pairs of tights can work well, just tie a knot between each onion and hang them in a cool dry place. For bananas, try wrapping cling film around the stems to stop them ripening too quickly and elongate their shelf life.

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Don’t keep your milk in the fridge door

In terms of functionality and fridge space, it seems the most practical to store your milk in the fridge door. However, the higher shelves and doors are actually the warmest places in the fridge whereas the bottom drawer and lower shelves are the coldest. So, in order to slow down the spoiling process, your best bet is to store your milk in the bottom of your fridge, where the colder air sinks downwards.

Freeze anything and everything you can

Freezing food and drink items is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to avoid food waste. From herbs, stock, yoghurt and even tea – lots of food and drink can be kept frozen in ice cube trays, which also means they’re already in convenient portions for you to add to your cooking (for soups, stews, sauces and gravy) or to be used in drinks like smoothies and juices. For freezing herbs, try adding a little bit of olive oil to the tray as well, so that when it comes to adding them to the dishes you’re cooking you simply need to melt the cube.