Intro: In a tight economy, everyone's doing what they can to stretch what they've got, including what's in the fridge or cupboards. With proper preservation, you can lengthen the life of your food and broaden your budget.
Take VO: Americans waste up to 34 million tons of food per year. That's enough food to fill the 90-thosuand seat Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California.*
Stand-up: Let's start with your refrigerator - this is where a lot of waste happens. Fist, temperatures should be between 34 and 39 degrees.
SOT: Martin Bucknavage, Senior Food Safety Specialist, Penn State University
("A lot of people's refrigerators are too warm. Studies have shown the average refrigerator temperature may be as high as 45 degrees. One of the things consumes need to do is they need to have a thermometer in their refrigerator, rather than relying on the unit that may be on their refrigerator.")
Continue VO: Next, let's talk shelf-life…every product you buy has a "use-by" or "best-by" date on it. These recommended dates were developed by the FDA as a guideline for food spoilage.
"Sell-by" dates represent the earliest time that a product might start to spoil. It's also a guideline for grocery stores.
"Use-by" dates or expiration dates are when the product is expected to go bad…that doesn't mean it is - this is where a little common sense can make or break your decision to throw the product away. Remember, you nose knows!
"Best-by" dates are recommended for the best flavor or quality. This is more or less a taste test…it's not a purchase or safety date issue.
The way you store your food has a lot to do with its staying power. Did you know that certain fruits give off gas called ethylene and that speeds ripening in vegetables? So, avoid storing your fruits and vegetables together.
Since most cheese comes wrapped in plastic, it's hard to believe that plastic actually suffocates cheese, making it moldy much quicker. It's recommended that you store your cheese in special "breathable" cheese wrap paper or wax paper.
And while you can't prevent all your food from going bad - some foods we eat are actually born from spoilage. Take bread crumbs for example. That ole crusty loaf of bread you didn't eat in enough time can be turned into bread crumbs. You can add spices, salt and pepper for flavor. That same bread can be cubes for croutons and bread pudding.
SOT: Bucknavage ("You know one of the things that I always think is important is keeping an inventory of what people have. I think we tend to buy a lot of food products and we don't have a any way of really tracking it. A lot of times, if you're going to go to the grocery store, is to have a sheet of paper with you and check the inventory on your items. This will help make sure you have what you need.")
TAG: Do you have any money saving food tips? If so, email us at email@example.com. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.