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6 Ways to Prolong the Shelf Life of Food and Save Your Money

6 Ways to Prolong the Shelf Life of Food and Save Your Money

It’s estimated that the average person in North America and Europe will waste over 200 POUNDS of food in a year, be that through disposal of items that are no longer appealing, or because we’ve allowed things to rot in our fridges and cupboards. Can you imagine going grocery shopping, buying 200 lbs worth of items, and then tipping your purchases right into a landfill site? The image is rather appalling, isn’t it? Not only is it a startling waste of money, but it’s also incredibly disrespectful to the sources of our edibles: the animals that produced them; the farmers who worked hard to tend their fields so we have enough to eat; the many people who are involved with cooking and producing pre-made items that stock the shelves at our supermarkets.

These simple actions can significantly decrease the amount of food that will go to waste in your home. They might not all be viable for your living space or personal schedule, but just putting a couple of them into practice should make a marked improvement.

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Defend Your Dairy!

luxury cheese

    If you’ve shelled out a fair bit of cash for really good cheese, you won’t want it to go manky overnight. Try soaking cheesecloth in whiskey and wrapping your cheese in it before placing it in a plastic bag, or else cover it with a layer of waxed paper followed by a layer of aluminium foil before storing it. To make milk and cream last longer, you can add a pinch of salt to the carton or bottle, and you can freeze butter to extend its freshness.

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    Don’t Store Apples in the Fridge

    apple in fridge

      This may sound counter-intuitive, but there’s a good reason behind it: apples give off ethylene gas, which will wilt and spoil other food around it. Remove your apples from plastic bags, and store them in paper inside a cool, dry cupboard instead. If you have a cold cellar or pantry, you can pack them in layers of fine sand as well: take a wooden barrel or box, line it with the kind of sand used for children’s sandboxes, put in a layer of apples, cover with sand, and repeat until they’re all covered. This will keep them in a fresh torpor for months.
      *Note: you can use that sand technique for root vegetables like carrots, beets, etc. too.

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      Ditch the Plastic

      fruit in plastic bag

        Be sure to take fruits and vegetables out of their plastic bags  before putting them in the crisper, as the trapped humidity will make them rot in no time flat. In fact, there aren’t many items that need to be purchased in plastic to begin with. Most produce can just be put in your reusable bags when you go shopping, but if you’re keen on keeping things separate, consider picking up some of those organza gift bags that are available at most dollar stores, and re-use them every time you go shopping. You can store your produce right in them as they’re breathable, and will keep things corralled neatly.

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        Freeze It

        peeled banana

          If you buy something and then realize you won’t be able to use it before it goes bad, put it in the freezer. There are very few food items that don’t freeze well, and though some may change consistency a little bit and will need to be used in a different manner than you’d originally planned, at least they’re not going to waste. Just be sure to label them with the date you froze them and try to use them within 6 months.
          To freeze bananas, remove them from their peels and then wrap them individually in plastic or aluminium until you’re ready to add them to baked goods or smoothies. Tomatoes can be stored whole in the freezer, but be sure to thaw them in a container as they get really goopy when defrosting—the good news is that they’ll slide right out of their skins, so they’re perfect for sauces and stews.

          Put It Behind Glass

          pasta in jar

            Have you noticed that dry goods such as cereal, nuts, and pasta can get stale and mealy if you leave them in the cupboard for too long? Even if you keep them in their original containers, once they’ve been opened, they’ll absorb some of the humidity that likes to linger around kitchens. Every time we cook something, or boil a kettle for tea, those water molecules dance around the room and into our dry goods.
            Glass containers with tight-fitting lids are perfect for keeping dampness out of dry food, as they’re impermeable and have no absorbent bits that can soak up moisture and sneak it into your granola. When you buy dry ingredients, transfer them into these glass containers and keep them in the driest cupboard in the house (usually the one that’s furthest from both the stove and the sink. You don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on fancy containers either: large glass mason jars with screw-top lids work just fine.

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            Catherine Winter

            Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on November 19, 2019

            20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

            20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

            Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

            If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

            1. Create a Daily Plan

            Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

            2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

            Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

            3. Use a Calendar

            Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

            I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

            Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

            4. Use an Organizer

            An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

            These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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            5. Know Your Deadlines

            When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

            But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

            6. Learn to Say “No”

            Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

            Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

            7. Target to Be Early

            When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

            For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

            Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

            8. Time Box Your Activities

            This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

            You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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            9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

            Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

            10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

            Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

            You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

            11. Focus

            Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

            Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

            Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

            12. Block out Distractions

            What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

            I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

            When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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            Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

            13. Track Your Time Spent

            When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

            You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

            14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

            You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

            Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

            15. Prioritize

            Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

            Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

            16. Delegate

            If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

            When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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            17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

            For related work, batch them together.

            For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

            1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
            2. coaching
            3. workshop development
            4. business development
            5. administrative

            I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

            18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

            What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

            One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

            While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

            19. Cut off When You Need To

            The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

            Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

            20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

            Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

            More Time Management Techniques

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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