Prolong the shelf life of fridge and pantry items with these simple tips

By cooking your food before it expires, you are doubling the time you can use it.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alison Roman

Alison Roman, author of popular cookbooks "Dining In" and "Nothing Fancy," is joining TODAY Food via video chat from her kitchen to share her tips on how to prolong your fresh food as well as the food you have in your freezer and pantry.

Now that Americans have been told to stay home and avoid the grocery store, we need to get more mileage out of the food we already have. By cooking your food before it expires, Roman says, you are doubling the time you can use it.

1. What to do with a loaf of bread

  • For a full loaf of bread, for example, a crusty sourdough, here's how to defrost it: Run the loaf of bread under cold water in the sink. Then, put it in 450°F oven and bake it until defrosted. It will taste like fresh bread!
  • If you're going to use the loaf for sandwiches and snacking, pre-slice it and then freeze it so you can easily take it out of the freezer. Take out slices individually to defrost on their own.
  • An extra tip: if you aren't using the crust of the bread, pulse it in a food processor to make bread crumbs. I likes to toast the breadcrumbs in olive oil, too. You can use them on pasta, to bread chicken, or on a salad.

2. How to make use of fruit that's about to expire

  • With berries, make jam: Cook berries down with a bit of sugar. This works for any berry: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries.
  • With apples, make applesauce: Cook apples down with sugar and some water.
  • You can also freeze some fruits, like grapes, mango, berries, peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries.

Quick Blueberry Jam

Alex Guarnaschelli

3. How to use up your greens before they go bad

  • Remember, romaine will go bad first, so you want to eat that first.
  • Use your kale to make a condiment or sauce: pesto, salsa verde or chimichurri. By blending with olive oil, you're preserving it for longer and extending its shelf life for approximately 10 days.
  • You can also cook your greens with chopped garlic and olive oil. You can eat that with rice or over noodles. And because it's cooked, it will stay fresher longer.
Natalie Morales' Easy Grilled Chimichurri Soy Steak

4. How to extend the life of your vegetables

By tossing your vegetables in olive oil and roasting them, you can keep them in the fridge for two times longer, sometimes up to 2 weeks. And you can use the roasted veggies to make other dishes. This works for vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant and tomatoes.

5. How to make a whole chicken go a long way

I had a whole chicken in my refrigerator. Instead of roasting it and having it for one night, I cooked it in water, onions and garlic to make a soup. I took out the breasts to eat later in the week, but used the rest of the meat and bones for the soup.

That one chicken resulted in one soup dinner, two soup lunches and a chicken breast salad lunch, serving three people for each meal.