We’ve just returned from a camping trip through the southwest. I happily shopped for groceries, packed the camper, and ultimately unpacked the camper. Finding room for all the food required for this two-week odyssey brought out all my pack rat instincts.
Shopping while traveling is not the time to tempt fate. Buy fresh produce that is free from defects, bruises, and blemishes. Do not choose overripe produce—make sure fruits are firm with no soft spots or bruises. One bad specimen will spoil the rest. Select lettuce and other greens with firm leaves and no signs of wilt or decay. Wash everything thoroughly before you use it. The vegetable crisper in your fridge performs better if it is at least two-thirds full. If crisper is less full than this, veggies will keep better if you put them in plastic bags first.
Check the thermometer in the meat case to see that meats are held at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Buy only clean, refrigerated eggs with no cracks and keep them refrigerated after purchase.
Avoid packaged food that is damaged or ripped. Insects can find their way into the smallest cracks and humidity is a real spoiler. Also avoid canned foods that are dented, rusted, or bulged. The few cents you might save on the clearance table is not worth the risk.
Check the pull date on perishable foods such as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, and bread. Determining the freshness of bread can be tricky, if there is no date on the wrapper. I check the color of the twisty ties. The shelf stockers will put older items out front and the giveaway is the one lone blue tie in a field of red.
Bread keeps fresher longer at room temperature than in the fridge. In hot, humid weather, bread is better protected against mold by storing it in the fridge than in the breadbox. These items, that were once a kitchen staple, are now back on the market again. They never did work all that well, but collectors are snapping up the older ones and paying premium prices for them. Just goes to prove that if you hang on to something long enough, it will come around again.