Too much money going out and not enough cash flow coming in. Wages tend to feel like they’re always trying to play catch-up with the cost of living. According to Reuters, the median American income is $26,364, or about $1,014 per month. When you factor in the costs of living associated with utilities, rent, food and insurance, these wages can still leave a lot of expenses left to be covered. In fact, a CareerBuilder poll reveals that 61 percent of Americans struggle living paycheck to paycheck. This need forces many to turn to family, friends and payday loan options to cover the difference.
Fortunately, every household can reduce the amount of money borrowed in these tough situations. And it all starts with an audit of your kitchen’s refrigerator.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Americans waste an estimated $500 to $2,000 per year on food they don’t eat. You wouldn’t toss a wad of cash into the trash bin, so why do it with the food you pay for? The problem is, it’s not food we choose to throw out, but food we have to toss—the moldy, smelly, squishy, spoiled variety.
By rethinking the way you store your groceries, your food can last longer. The extra cash that would be spent to compensate for spoiled food can start to cover other expenses, or even contribute to savings.
According to CleanMetrics Corporation, approximately 41 percent of the foods we waste are produce items. Unfortunately, our healthy fruits and veggies tend to have the shortest shelf life. You can maximize their freshness with a few key organization tips:
Beware of the ethylene. These gases—which lurk in apples, bananas, tomatoes, pears, grapes and avocadoes—can ripen other produce at a faster rate or change their taste altogether. So if you want to keep your carrots from turning bitter or your lettuce from browning, store them in separate crispers or away from the counter space of ethylene producing foods.
Know the climate of your crisper. A higher humidity crisper with less air flow with keep your greens lively while citrus and other thinner-skinned produce items need lower humidity (more air flow) to thrive.
Only wash produce before you use it. Any lingering dampness on your fruits or vegetables can cause mold to sprout up quicker.
The Deal with Dairy
Dairy and eggs can be finicky food groups in the expiration department; smell and taste tests are often the decisive factor. But before you subject your nose or mouth to any questionable samples, here’s how you can stretch them farther.
Dairy and eggs love temperature consistency. If you avoid putting them on door shelves and put them on upper fridge shelves instead, they’ll benefit from the most even temperatures. Your fridge should be between 34 and 40 degrees to avoid spoilage. Eggs under these circumstances can last nearly a month.
The freezer can be your friend. While it won’t work for all dairy products, freezing can prolong the life of many dairy favorites. According to the agriculture department at North Dakota State, salted, pasteurized butter can last up to a year in the freezer. Milk and cottage cheese can last a month while hard cheeses can go for up to six months.
The Meaty Matter
The most expensive items on your grocery bill—meat, poultry and fish can be hard to pass up, especially if you see them at discount prices in bulk. According to the Consumer Price Index, the rate of meat price increases is only outdone by oil.
However, meat can often spoil as quickly as produce. To get the most out of your meat:
Store on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This will prevent any juices from leaking onto the foods you don’t cook. Beef, poultry and fish will last up to two days; pork can be good up to four.
First in, first out. To ensure that you don’t waste any meat you buy, be sure meat is the first thing you put in the fridge from your grocery store trip and the first thing you use for your meals to maintain freshness.
Consider the freezer too. Unopened fish and poultry will last up to six months, ground beef and roasts, four months; bacon or ham, up to one month.
Less Cash, More Food
Proper food storage won’t necessarily solve all of your money woes, but the right practices can work in your budget’s favor. Savings that start in the kitchen can pay off for your bank account.
When you picture an extra $2,000 a year to your name, these dollar stretching habits can minimize the impact of loan repayment. You may not have to borrow as much as you would have if you didn’t have the extra savings. A smaller payday loan amount means smaller finance charges on every dollar.