I-TEAM: How to stretch your groceries and your dollars

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With prices at the grocery store climbing and the highest inflation we’ve seen in 40 years, you may be looking for ways to cut back.

One great way to do that is by extending the life of your groceries and avoiding waste.

We took your problems to our test kitchen to find out the best ways to stretch your dollar further.

The first piece of advice is probably the best advice, and that is to start by shopping local. Because the shorter the distance your groceries have to go to get to the grocery store, the longer their life after you get them home.

Allen Russell is the General Manager of Good Earth, “You’re cutting out the middle man, it’s not sitting in coolers for weeks as opposed to California or other states where it’s picked held in coolers trucked all the way across the nation.”

We found some local berries grown in Waynesboro.

“We have really good relationships with local farmers, we’ve had them for years, so most of our produce is coming directly from the farm,” explains Russell.

A few more items on our list and we’re off to test some of those theories your grandma told you about.

We found some vegetables do not like to be stored together.

For instance, onions and potatoes. The onions will off-gas and make the potatoes sprout so we are going to test that out.

We have onions and potatoes hanging out together. We also have onions we are going to separate from our potatoes, and then another thing you may not realize is that onions do not like to be stored in plastic bags for that same gas reason. So, we are going to see the difference between onions just left out and onions left in a plastic bag.

We then waited 18 days for our results.

So, we have an onion we left by itself in the pantry. It’s looking the best out of our options.

Another onion beside it, in the plastic bag, has started to shoot and looks pretty tired. The potato we left out by itself in the pantry and compare that to the ones mixed in with the onion, and see those have started to sprout.

Another way to extend the life of your veggies, is if you use green onions and you cut the shoots off, don’t throw them away, stick the roots in some water and it will regenerate those shoots.

We again waited 18 calendar days and the results were impressive. Our cameras documented tons of new growth. It could’ve been composting, but now it’s ready to star in your next baked potato.

Next up is cilantro. We left cilantro in the bag it came in in the refrigerator. We wrapped it in a wet paper towel, an

cut the stems off and put them in a jar of water.

And we checked back in 18 days later. The verdict here is pretty clear: just leaving it out in the fridge is a bad idea, the wet paper towel doesn’t really seem to do much long term, and the jar of water is your best bet. Well, aside from just growing your own fresh herbs.

You also may notice in the grocery store sometimes, cut carrots and celery are moist. That’s by design. They like water. So, we’re storing pre-cut carrots and celery in an airtight container, other precut carrots in a plastic bag, and precut celery, in its original bag.

We’re also going to see what happens with celery that we cut the ends off of and left it in some water.

So far after waiting our 18 days, the MVP is the airtight container. Our camera could see a huge difference in the ones left out in the open air.

Another hack is to try to keep an eye on your produce, and before it reaches the end of its life, or in my case, when your toddlers decide they no longer like bananas this week, cut those up and freeze them for a smoothie or a stir fry another day.

And a final tip that may be Laura Warren’s favorite is to extend the life of your fruits and veggies. A vinegar rinse. To do it, use one part vinegar to ten parts water, and rinse your berries. We compared the produce washed in vinegar to others left in an airtight container and a third left in the container it came in.

We stuck all three we’re going to stick into the refrigerator and see what happens.

After 18 days, we saw a huge difference in the ones left out in the open air, and the ones in the airtight container. But a full 38 days later, both sets of these berries, vinegar rinse or not, look, mostly parfait perfect.

So, our ITEAM Mom analysis? Airtight containers are the no-brainer.