Everyone wants to save money on food – but while there are plenty of things that work, some methods just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Here are some common money-saving food and cooking hacks that could be costing you more than you think.
Automatically assuming buying in bulk is the cheapest option won’t always save you money.
The bulk aisle – or wholesale stores that sell huge quantities of food items – can be a great place to save money on food. But that isn’t always the case, as NPR’s The Salt reported.
Prices for the same item you plan to buy in bulk can vary drastically depending on the stores around you. The only way to know for sure that you’re getting the best deal is to do the legwork and compare your locally available prices for yourself.
If you’re comparing bulk prices to online prices, remember to factor in shipping costs.
Buying perishable foods in bulk isn’t always worth it.
If you have the freezer space, it can be wise to take advantage of a great deal and stock up on foods you eat often or will use for an upcoming gathering. But, if there’s no way you can use or eat them before they expire, the money you saved during the sale won’t matter.
The same holds true of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and any other perishables that might seem like they offer amazing savings at the moment. Consider your upcoming cooking plans before buying anything in bulk.
Buying kitchen gadgets you won’t really use won’t save you much time or money.
If you make veggie noodles often, a vegetable spiralizer is probably a wise purchase. But, if you cook them once a year it might not be worth it.
If you’re looking to save money in the kitchen, you might want to think seriously about how often you’re likely to use a new gadget before you spend money on it.
Buying cheap versions of kitchen utensils and tools could mean spending more money to replace them.
That bargain bin can opener might seem like a good idea at the time – but if it goes dull after two uses and you have to get a new one immediately, then it didn’t save you any money at all.
Doing a little research can help you find the line between saving money and accidentally shelling out more than you wanted for merchandise that is poor quality and won’t last very long if you use it.
Using lemon juice or cooking spray to save the other half of your avocado from browning doesn’t work — and just wastes all three things.
BuzzFeed tested these methods out and compared them to an avocado to which they applied nothing – and they noticed no difference whatsoever.
If that half an avocado does turn brown in the fridge overnight, it’s still safe to eat – even if it doesn’t look as appetizing. Plus, you can always scrape the brown part off and eat the green part underneath.
Adding salt to your pasta water to help it boil faster actually does the opposite — which means you spend more money and time cooking it.
This common cooking hack can actually be debunked by science. When you add salt to water, you increase its boiling point. So if you were hoping to save and money off of your energy bills and time using that tried-and-true method, think again.
Salted water is still good for flavoring pasta – but to get the best of both worlds, you should add salt after the water has already come to a boil, close to the time you add your pasta to cook.
Bad news, banana fans — hanging your bunch of bananas up doesn’t do anything to delay ripening.
Banana bunches look cute hanging from a hook in your kitchen, but, the hook won’t actually stop them from rapidly ripening.
Like other fruits, bananas produce ethylene gas that promotes ripening – and it’s mostly produced up by the stems – more on that in a moment.
Cook’s Illustrated did an informal test of a banana hanger and found that it didn’t slow ripening time at all against a bunch of bananas just left sitting on a counter.
That’s bad news for what’s probably the most popular banana storage method – although if you like banana bread, there’s some small comfort in knowing that you can easily freeze bananas for that purpose, and they’re also better for bread if they’re overripe.
There is an economical solution to your banana ripening woes — and you probably already have it in your house.
Writer Emily Leaman at Philadelphia Magazine did some experiments of her own based on this detailed Instructable. In her kitchen, bananas always turned brown within two days. But, by wrapping plastic wrap around the stems of her bananas to help contain the ethylene gas, she found that she was able to reliably keep them from ripening too quickly.
Making a large meal can help you to use up ingredients — but if you don’t store leftovers properly you could be wasting money.
Spending hours making a big batch of soup, stew, stock, or sauce can yield delicious rewards and create multiple meals.
But, if you don’t have a large group of people around to eat it all, you need to plan on storing all that goodness as quickly as possible to prevent foodborne illnesses in addition to food waste.
For best results, put leftovers in smaller containers that are safe for fridge and freezer storage, then chill in an ice bath to keep the temperature out of the food danger zone before safely stashing them to enjoy later.
Having a well-stocked fridge can be handy and stop you from spending money onbasics — but it might be preventing your food from being as cold as it should be.
A well-stocked refrigerator is a beautiful thing – but an overstuffed fridge can make your food go bad more quickly. When it’s working the way it should, your fridge is constantly circulating cold air around the items inside – which is how they stay cold, according to Food Republic.
But placing food in the wrong place in your fridge – or packing too much food in the fridge in general – can block expected airflow. If you’ve noticed leafy greens and herbs that are wilting more quickly than usual, you might want to check your fridge’s airflow situation.
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