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How to Make Food Last Longer: 5 Expert Tricks So Your Grocery Money Doesn’t Go to Waste

These easy pro tips can save you $100s a year!


Americans toss out a whopping 30-40% of food according to the United States Department of Agriculture. With the rising costs of groceries, that means our wallets also take a hit. No one wants their money to go to waste, especially when it comes to feeding themselves and their family — here, check out these savvy tips from food and money pros that’ll make groceries last and save you $100s a year. 

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5 genius tips to food last longer

1. Be savvy about expiration dates

woman checking expiration date of groceriesv
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“A costly mistake a lot of us make is tossing out food due to expiration dates. That’s why it’s good to know some grocery items can last longer than their expiration date suggests,” says Kimberly Baker, the food systems and safety program team director at Clemson University.

“For example, fresh in-shell eggs, which can cost $4 to $6 per carton, will keep 3 to 5 weeks after their sell-by date if stored properly — in the refrigerator below 40°F. Store-bought bread, which sells for $3 to $5 per loaf, can last up to 18 days after the sell-by date if stored in a cool, dry pantry. For more info, check out The FoodKeeper app, which was developed by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

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2. Designate special shelf space

“One of the reasons food like deli sliced meat, which costs between $5 to $10 per pound, or rotisserie chicken, which sells for $8 per chicken, can go bad is that you forget it’s there. To combat this, get in the habit of organizing your shelves according to the First In, First Out (FIFO) principle,” advises Janilyn Hutchings, food safety professional at

“When you’re putting away your groceries, put the newer items behind the older ones on the shelf. Or if you have leftovers, put them front and center. That way, you’re more likely to grab the oldest food items first, which reduces the chance they’ll go bad before you can eat them. You can slash your grocery bill by hundreds annually by incorporating FIFO!”

3. Store herbs this way

“At $2 to $4 per bunch, buying fresh herbs can be pricey! To prolong the life of your cilantro, parsley or other soft herbs, first give them a soak in cold water. Then, instead of buying one of those herb saver containers for $20, simply trim the ends off and store in a mason jar covered with a plastic bag,” suggests Denise Bustard, food blogger at

“Stored this way, fresh herbs can last for up to 2 weeks. Meanwhile, woody herbs like rosemary or thyme last even longer when they are frozen either in an ice cube tray with a tiny bit of water or stored into a zip-top bag. That way, they can be pulled out of the freezer as needed.”

4. Divide fruits and veggies

divided groceries
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“To prolong the life of vegetables, the first thing I do when I get them home is to remove them from the packaging. I then store them in clean, dry kitchen towels that allow just enough moisture to keep the vegetables crisp and vibrant,” says Palak Patel, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education.

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“I typically bunch squash, which can cost $3 each, and a bag of $2 carrots in one, and have large salad greens, which can cost $4 a head, in another. If you have a bag of pre-cut lettuce that sells for $4 per clamshell, store it in a zip-top bag with a paper towel inside to absorb any moisture,” she says.

“Also smart: Keep the tops of your bananas, which sell for 60 cents per pound, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent them from ripening too quickly.”

5. Make groceries last by freezing extra dairy items

“When it comes to buying dairy, save money by stocking up when the price is low and then freezing it all. This allows you to take advantage of good prices on staples like milk, which can cost $3 to $6 per gallon, or cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar, which can each cost $4 per pound,” says Sara Lundberg, author of Budget Savvy Diva’s Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill by 50% or More.

“Milk can last for three months in the freezer — just be aware that it expands when frozen, so leave some room in the container to keep it from bursting. To freeze cheese, just cut it into smaller portions and place in tightly sealed plastic bags. Then you’ll always have cheese on hand — just thaw it in the fridge overnight as needed.”

For more ways to save money of food, check out these stories:

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Expert Tricks to Get Even Bigger Bargains at Aldi, Target, Walmart and More

Save Money on Healthy Foods With These 5 Clever Tips

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