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- Notice what your family actually eats. If you’re tossing grapes or other quick-to-expire items such as fresh bread, meat or veggies regularly, buy less at a time. Or ask for input from your family and opt for foods they might like better.
- Schedule your shopping trips. It’s so easy to pop into the store to grab a carton of eggs and come out with a whole bag of random items. Instead, schedule regular store trips. Prior to shopping, tour your kitchen and create a meal plan that uses ingredients on hand. Eat before you go to curb hunger-driven impulse purchases.
- Keep an ongoing grocery list and finesse it before shopping. Each week, jot down staples as you use them up and items you know you want. This cuts trips to the store for forgotten items. To reduce shopping time, divide the list into store-section categories such as meat, dairy, produce and packaged goods.
- Embrace imperfections and sale items. Many grocery stores now sell “ugly” produce with odd shapes or minor blemishes. They often cost less than “perfect” items but taste fine. Also, look for sale items that might be at peak freshness, but only if you have a plan to freeze or use them immediately.
- Understand package dates. Did you know that dates on food packaging are not required by law, except for infant formula? Food manufacturers voluntarily set the dates based on estimated quality, not food safety. Use them as helpful guidelines when shopping and not as pitch-by dates. For more information on food freshness, check out stilltasty.com.
Sell-By: Tells stores how long to display a product and is more for their inventory purposes.
Use-By: Suggests the last recommended use of the product for peak quality.
Best if Used By/Before: Indicates the window of a product’s best quality/flavor.
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