Tips & Tricks: Save Money on Food

Gas prices are skyrocketing and though it’s just starting food prices are probably going to follow suit. Last night after doing a bit of reading on the widespread impact current increases in gas prices will have on the cost of every day goods I wandered into the kitchen for a midnight snack. As I stood there staring staring blankly at the odd assortment of foodstuffs my room mate and I have accumulated I had a college flashback.

Sometimes life’s little lessons come at you in the most entertaining of ways – four boys, 1 apartment, 1 fridge. Three Americans and one Taiwanese exchange student. We not only went through a lot of food we went through a lot of a weird food, and a lot of beer. Unfortunately, we also forgot about our fair share of food. Stuff that got pushed to the back, or placed in the drawer at the bottom of the fridge and then sat forgotten for months. When time came to clean the fridge we made all sorts of interesting discoveries. I’ll leave out most of the details (yes, we had a molded stew) and skip to the important part – the fruit.

At the beginning of Spring semester one of us had decided to eat healthy, picked up some pears and apples, then proceeded to forget about them in the produce drawers at the bottom of the fridge. Four months later we re-discovered them, and to our surprise they were still good. Not only were they still good, they seemed fresh. Which brings me to today’s tip.

We all forget about food, and most of us could be significantly better about eating the stuff we put in our fridge. Unfortunately we all goof and usually end up throwing out a pretty notable amount of spoiled food each year.

TIP: Lower the temperature in your fridge to just above freezing. While it will spike your electrical costs slightly, the amount you’ll probably save on spoiled food will more than make up for it. It will be especially useful in preserving fruit and vegetables. A lower fridge temperature will result in firmer, longer lasting, fresher tasting fruit and vegetables. This is the same technique used by florists and produce packing/transport plants. It’s just an odd quirk that it’s never really made its way into consumer behavior.

When adjusting your fridge’s temperature make sure not to lower it too low. The two best indicators I’ve found are pre-packaged roughage (Spinach/Lettuce etc.) and Milk. If you’re over cooling the roughage will develop ice crystals and wilt a bit. Milk will separate (nasty).

Happy shopping!