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If you're always throwing produce away, you need these hacks in your life

Lifestyle expert Jill Bauer shares the products and tips you need to save money and prevent food waste.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "more food (over 76 billion pounds per year) reaches landfills and combustion facilities than any other material in everyday trash." Not only is that waste hurting the environment, but it's hurting the wallets of consumers and retailers — the EPA estimates that waste totals over $161 billion annually.

So, to help you stop tossing your groceries (along with your money) into the trash, lifestyle expert Jill Bauer stopped by to share some tips on how to keep your food fresh with Hoda & Jenna. This way, you don't have to throw that unopened bag of salad away or the fruit you forgot about in the back of the refrigerator.

From genius produce bags to a wine preserver, Bauer has all of the tools and tricks you need to cut down on food waste and save some cash, as well as a time frame for how long certain foods last.

How to keep produce fresh for longer

Rubbermaid Brilliance Pantry Organization (Set of 4)

Bauer says you should be storing your pantry items in an airtight container. This will prevent moisture from getting inside, so your bags of sugar and flour or bags of chips, won't spoil as early. These containers from Rubbermaid are not only airtight, but they're also clear, so you can see what exactly is in the pantry and don't end up purchasing more at the store.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container Set

This set of airtight containers will help keep everything in sight in the pantry, in the fridge and beyond. It comes in different sets with different amounts of pieces, so you can grab as many as you need to suit the size of your kitchen.

Mikasa French Countryside Metal Fruit Basket

The fruits that you leave out on the counter are notorious for spoiling or ripening too quickly, so Bauer suggests grabbing a fruit bowl with a banana stand. Since bananas put out a lot of ethylene gas, they often cause other fruits to ripen more quickly, which is why a banana stand will help them keep their distance.

iDesign Crisp BPA-Free Plastic Produce Storage Bin

For the fruits that have a home in the refrigerator, such as berries, Bauer recommends giving them a vinegar and water bath by combining one cup of vinegar with three cups of water. After you dunk them in, strain them and then rinse with water; this helps rid the berries of mold spores and bacteria, thus keeping them fresh. After rinsing, storing them in a basket like this will help them stay dry.

DE Reusable Produce Bags

You've likely let lettuce sit in a wrapper for too long, so this hack will help prevent your greens from getting soggy. Once you bring it home from the store Bauer recommends washing it, chopping it, patting it and then placing it in lettuce bags like these. They help to keep them fresh for about two weeks.

Prepara Stainless Steel Herb Savor

Herbs spoil just as quickly as lettuce, but a saver like this can keep them fresh — and it looks nicer than the plastic bag you purchase them in. Bauer says it's also great for asparagus.

Stasher Reusable Bag Bundles

When it comes to leftover produce such as onions or tomato halves, ditching plastic bags might be the way to go. Bauer says opting for silicone bags can help store and preserve your food better because they seal better. They also work for sauces since they take up less room in the fridge, and they are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Stasher Mixed Lunch Pack (Set of 6)

This set of six includes sandwich and snack bags that are perfect for lunch or leftovers. They can also be labeled with a dry erase or chalk marker.

Souper Cubes Freezer Tray with Lid

And speaking of those leftover soups and sauces..here's another way to make sure they don't go to waste...freeze it! These souper cubes are great for everything from leftover broth, to portions of lasagna or meatloafs you want to freeze to reheat for meals on a busy night.

FoodSaver Multi-Use Food Preservation System

Though it's a bit of a splurge, a vacuum storage system is worth considering for anyone who purchases groceries in bulk. The vacuum seal will protect food from freezer burn and air for months.

Rabbit Stainless Steel Wine Preserver

Last, but certainly not least, if, by chance, you have any leftover wine, Bauer recommends this preserver to prevent it from oxidizing. It creates a vacuum seal that will keep your wine (or even oils) tasting fresh for longer.

What do 'sell by' and 'use by' on food packaging mean?

"Sell by" is more helpful for the grocer, since it helps them with inventory and will give them a better shot at offering products that are fresh. "Use by" indicates the last date that the flavor and taste of the product will be at its peak. If you're storing the food properly at home, Bauer says you typically have five days after the "sell by" date to consume it. But, your nose and eyes will never steer you wrong — if it looks or smells funny, it's best to toss it in the trash. Bauer laid out a timeline for different produce below:

  • For ground meat and poultry: Use within 1-2 days of sell by date.
  • For other meats, steaks and most dairy: Use within 3-4 days of sell by date.
  • For eggs: Use within 1-2 weeks, but always check for bad eggs by using the floating test.

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