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Grocery shopping is enough of a chore as it is, but right now it can start to feel like it’s not the safest option for you and your family.

Staying home right now is paramount for the safety of you, your loved ones, and even strangers on the street, so trips to the grocery store aren’t the most viable option. As a result, a lot of us are buying groceries in bulk, or at least in greater quantities than we ever used to, and with greater quantities of groceries comes the every-important question – what can I do to stop all this stuff from spoiling?

 While everything has a natural expiration date, certain foods can be extended – or at least kept fresher and tastier – through proper storage and care. Here’s a few storage tips for making sure your food lasts until you need it, even if you have enough to last you through quarantine and beyond:

 

Refrigerate everything as needed: Obviously, if something needs to be refrigerated or kept cold, make sure it makes it into your fridge or freezer as soon as it can. This may mean you need to get a little ruthless – if anything is starting to get close to (or beyond) its expiration date, you need to figure out if you’re going to make it anytime soon, or if it just needs to get thrown out.

 

…and save room where you can: On the contrary, there’s a lot of products (dressings, condiments) that don’t need to be refrigerated until they’re open and in use. To save yourself some room in the fridge for things that need to be there, keep these on pantry organizers or out on your garage shelves (where appropriate, climate-wise) to make sure they’re safe and usable when you need them.

 

Avoid moisture: The biggest danger most bulk foods can encounter, even above and beyond their looming expiration dates, is an abundance of moisture. Most foods bought in bulk, such as flour, nuts, and even certain fruits, thrive better in a less-humid environment that won’t promote the growth of bugs or bacteria. Keep your excess goods in an area that’s kept free of humidity, such as a dry insulated garage or basement area, and always use a dehumidifier and rust proof shelves to keep them safe from unwanted growth or visitors.

 

Use your bins: A great way to shop in bulk and store food for the long term is to hit up one of those bulk food warehouse-type stores and buy just what you need, without needing to lug that twenty-pound bag of flour everywhere. When you get home, a good way to portion these out is to divide them between larger containers or jars to keep a backup supply in the pantry or in plastic storage bins, and the amount of flour (etc) you need right out on the counter. This will prevent waste while allowing you to keep more food around than you would from a “normal” store.

 

Freeze more than you expect: If you have room in the freezer, or better yet if you have one of those huge freezers with space to spare, you can keep more in there than just pre-frozen goods. Many breads freeze safely to keep them fresh for longer, some fruits can be kept in the freezer, and baking goods like flour or other grains should be put in the freezer for the first 48 hours after purchase to prevent any insects or other pests from growing inside them.

 

Only Buy What You Need: Of course, one of the easiest ways to keep food fresh is to only buy what you need, and will use. One of the biggest causes of food waste is when something sits, unused, because you had too much of it already or weren’t really going to use it in the first place. Cut out this habit of over-buying and let your food serve its purpose.

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