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How to Stop Wasting Food

7 tips for preserving food – and your grocery budget

En español | The average American family of four spends about $1,600 a year on food they never eat, especially vegetables, fruits and cooked leftovers, according to CleanMetrics.com, a company that promotes environmental sustainability.

Try these tips to extend the life of produce and other foods:

  • Store greens with a damp paper towel in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

  • Blanch fresh vegetables such as asparagus, beans, carrots and broccoli. Dip in ice water, drain, then freeze in one-meal portions.
  • Cook overripe fruit into a compote.

  • Make stir-fry or a nutritious soup from surplus vegetables, pasta and meat.

  • Store leftovers in glass containers so you can see them.
  • Relax a little about expiration dates and "use by" dates. These dates, which are often set by manufacturers or producers, refer to a perishable food's peak quality, not safety. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "After the date passes, while not of [the] best quality, the product should still be safe if handled properly and kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for recommended storage times."
  • Shop more frequently for perishables, buying only what you can use in the next few days.

Joan Rattner Heilman writes about good deals and where to find them.

Also of interest: Save money at pick-your-own farms.

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AARP's My Generation looks at how to save money while grocery shopping.

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