Top Tips for Keeping Produce Fresh Longer

Family Outing to the Grocery Store

No one likes to throw food away. Groceries are expensive and when you can keep your food fresh longer, you can save a lot of cash. Here are some tips for keeping your fresh food fresher longer.

Keep your refrigerator clean. Leftover residue or mold spores can increase the spoilage of all your food in the refrigerator.

Click here for some tips to easily clean your refrigerator and keep it clean longer.

Don’t store fruits and vegetables near a gas stove. Natural gas has been shown to increase ripening. In addition, don’t store fruits or vegetable in areas that have smoke or heat, like the stove or toaster oven. The exhaust and heat from these can increase the amount of Ethylene gas that is produced and speed up the ripening process.

Store produce in special storage bags that you can buy from your grocer.

Don’t cut your fruits and vegetables until you will be using them. Cut fruit will spoil faster.

If you do cut your fruit or veggies sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to keep them fresh and cover them with plastic wrap.

Place fresh herbs and leafy greens in a jar or vase of water, just like you would a bouquet of flowers. They’ll last longer and you’ll have a beautiful, green arrangement.

Store dried green onions or chives after you chop them up in a plastic water bottle in the freezer. When you’re ready to use some, just pull this out and sprinkle.

Store potatoes with apples to keep the potatoes from sprouting, and keep them away from your onions. Onions will make apples go bad faster.

Keep your greens in the refrigerator in a bowl with a paper towel, and cover with plastic wrap. The paper towel will absorb the excess moisture and keep them fresh.

Clean berries, fruits, and greens in a mixture of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. This will remove dirt and even pesticides, and help them last longer by preventing mold.

Bad apple in the bunch? Remove it immediately. The old saying “One bad apple will spoil the bunch,” is true.

Store fruit in the middle of the refrigerator or in the drawers to keep temperatures consistent.

Keep bananas away from your other produce, as they produce some of the highest amounts of Ethylene gas. Place plastic wrap around the crown of your banana bunch to keep them lasting longer. If you want them to ripen super fast, place them in a closed plastic bag. Since they emit so much Ethylene gas, they’ll ripen quickly when the gas is trapped by the bag.

Keep tomatoes at room temperature and away from sunlight. If you grow your own tomatoes, pick them as soon as they are ripe. Do not to store your tomatoes in plastic; this will trap moisture and increase the likelihood of spoilage.

Store nuts in the freezer or in a food safe jar to protect them from moisture and air.

It’s no fun to throw food away, and it’s always fun to eat fresh! Try a few of these tips and see if you’re not saving and using more food than you ever have before! 

Things to Do with Your Family before Summer Ends

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Back-to-School time is coming soon. Don’t let summer slip by without taking part in a few summertime favorites with your kids. Some of these may even harken back to your own summer memories. Share those memories with your kids, while creating new ones.

Spend the day at a sandy beach near you. You don’t have to take a trip to Florida to get the most out of sun and sand. There are a lot of state parks, national parks and local parks that have fun beaches. Grab a pail, a shovel, some chairs, your sunscreen and a picnic lunch and make memories by the water for one last summer splash.

Play mini golf. This is the perfect after-supper activity. It’s relaxing and challenging at the same time. Kids and adults alike have fun trying to get past the windmill, down the right slope and into a hole in one!

Be a tourist for the day. Let’s face it, there are towns and historical sites that we never go to and hikes we never take because they are for the tourists. But these places provide a lot of new information about your local community and your state. And there’s a reason tourists go there – they are fun to visit. Don’t miss out on the reasons out-of-towners hit the towns!

Find a festival. Summer is about festivals and there’s a festival for everyone. Whether your family is into art, culture or funnel cakes, there’s a festival somewhere. Grab the kids, head to the Ferris wheel with cotton candy and just have some summer fun.

Camp in the backyard. Set up the tent, grill hot dogs and make s’mores – all without leaving home. There are memories to be made in your own backyard. Telling ghost stories and giggling past dark is a part of many family traditions. It could be a part of yours!

Get ice cream from the ice cream truck. Few things sound like summer as much as the songs from the ice cream truck. Don’t let it pass by this summer without stopping for a rocket pop!

Whatever you do, make the last breath of summer a memorable one for you and your family.

Summer Vacation Means Summer Jobs for Kids

girl watering the flowers

It’s summer vacation. Don’t let your kids spend the summer on the couch watching TV. Encourage them to earn their own money and start saving today for things they want tomorrow. Here are six jobs that kids as young as age 10 can cut their teeth on and become young entrepreneurs. Some of them may require a little help and coaching from adults, but that’s part of the experience. Help kids get started with marketing – make and hang signs, go door-to-door, put flyers in mailboxes, post on neighborhood websites, or create ads for neighborhood newsletters.

Do Yard Work
If your kids are old enough to use a lawn mower, then mowing lawns is a great job from spring through fall. The beauty of lawn mowing is that kids can push the mower from house to house! If kids aren’t ready for lawn mowing yet there are lots of other jobs: rake leaves, plant seeds, pull weeds, water flowers, etc.

Open a Lemonade Stand 
Younger kids may enjoy setting up a lemonade stand. If the weather is right (hot!) a lot of passersby on their way home from work or out walking the family dog may be ready for a refreshing beverage. Make sure the table is set up on a safe corner that has some foot and car traffic and they can be in business. If you really want to make some money, sell dog treats for the pups that go by with their owners.

The next three jobs may require some adult supervision when kids first begin them.

Walk Dogs
Be a dog walker. Dogs love going for walks and people who work all day love knowing their four-legged friends are getting outside. This job may be easier to get if the kids have pets of their own that neighbors see them taking care of and tending to. Dogs need to be walked all year round, no matter the weather or the time of year, so this job can grown into a continuous business. And good dog walkers never forget to clean up after their pooches!

Watch Someone’s House
When neighbors go away on a vacation, they often need someone to either feed their pet, water their flowers or pick up their mail while they’re away. A good house sitter is hard to find! It has to be someone trusted. But when your child becomes a favored house sitter, like dog walking, this job can become year-round business.

Be a Mother’s Helper
When kids are too young to babysit, they can get some training and earn some money by being a “mother’s helper.” A mother’s helper makes life easier for moms when they are at home. out a mom with her young kids while she’s also at home. They may play with the kids and keep them entertained while their mom does other chores around the house. They may even be asked to help with simple chores themselves.

The earlier kids start working, the faster their savings and their work ethic will grow. And the good things about these jobs? They are close to home and if your kids get one or two good clients, they will keep getting more business!

Visitors Checking In? Make Your Home Guest-Ready

I'd Like A Trim Please

You never know when a guest may be checking in to your home for a visit, so make sure your house is always guest-ready. It’s easy to be a welcoming host when the doorbell rings by taking a few simple steps today. 

Clear the clutter. For a lot of us our guest room was once our “spare room” or it is still our office. Clear the clutter from the guest room when you know you are going to have visitors. If the guest room doubles your office, put away your files and move your laptop. If you store items in the closet, buy some storage bins and put things in the bins to keep the closet organized and welcoming. Clear out at least half of the closet, and leave plenty of open hangers so your guests can hang their clothes and jackets . Make sure some of the dresser drawers are available, too. Guests are more comfortable when they have a place to store their clothes and other items so they aren’t tossed around in their room or stacked on top of their suitcase.

If you cannot empty any drawers or make room in the closet, get a couple of inexpensive luggage racks so your guests can put their luggage on those and not have to work from a suitcase on the floor. Put an inexpensive hook on the outside of the closet and dangle a few coat hangers on that so your guests have a place to hang up jackets and nice clothes.

Make a guest basket. Fill a basket with everything from travel-sized soaps to snacks to munch on after you’ve gone to bed. Include a few travel essentials: lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, a lint roller and little essentials they may not have brought. If you are feeling extra welcoming, put in some fun snacks, such as granola, bite-sized candy bars or fig newtons. Include a reusable water bottle or glasses so your guests can get water during the night without having to fumble around in the dark kitchen.

Create an online cheat sheet: Make their stay easy by creating a packet ahead of time with the information they’ll need, like your WiFi network name and password, so they can log on whenever they want.

Add soft, low-key lighting. Make sure your guest room has a lamp with soft lighting or a 3-way bulb they can adjust. Soft lighting makes it easier to read before dozing off and makes the room feel more cozy.

Use good sheets. Splurge a little on sheets and a soft blanket. If the mattress is your old one from your youth, it may be time to buy an inexpensive but new mattress that is a little less used. Make the bed look lovely with a throw blanket or pillows, but don’t go overboard on the decorations. Too many throw pillows and guests get flustered trying to make the bed the way you like it.

Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet or on a small table or chair in the corner so your guests can be as comfy as they want.

Provide a fan if the room gets warm, or make sure your guests know how to work the ceiling fan if there is one.

Clear some space on top of the dresser. Don’t clutter the space with family photos or knick-knacks. Leave the space clear so your guests can put their jewelry, books, phone, etc. in a place that’s easy to see. If you do want to put something on the dresser, nothing says “welcome” more than some fresh flowers.

Prep the bathroom, too!

Put out fresh towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, cotton balls, cotton swabs. If your guests forget something, they’ll be glad you thought of it.

Make sure you leave extra toilet paper where they can see it or in the obvious cabinet. No one wants to ask for toilet paper.

Put out a box of tissues, as well, if you did not put one in the guest bedroom.

Are your guests early risers?

Put coffee and tea by the coffee maker or prep the coffee maker and set the timer so your guests can start their day early (or late if you’re up and out before them). Put out some fruit and muffins so guests aren’t forced to root through your cabinets if they are hungry.

Leave a note about some of your favorite early morning walking or jogging paths so they can get out into the fresh air.

It‘s all about your guests. The trick is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. By following a few simple tips, you’ll be able to make sure your guest and you have the visit of a lifetime.