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9 Genius Kitchen Hacks to Keep Last Week’s Groceries Fresh

Don't let leftover ingredients go off just because you can't use them all at once.

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Freeze broth in sections

Broth should be tossed within a week of opening the container, but that usually means wasting about half the carton. Stowing the whole container commits you to thawing the rest when you need it, but freezing the broth in an ice cube tray makes it easy to take out just what you need, according to The Kitchn. As a bonus, the small cubes thaw faster than a large block of broth would. (Make sure you never, ever eat these foods past their expiration date.)

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Mix sugar and marshmallows

Clumpy brown sugar turns a fun baking session into a frustrating battle. You might know that a slice of bread can keep brown sugar from sticking together, but you can also keep marshmallows or apple slices in the bag to keep your sweetener soft.

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Toss the flour bag

The paper bag your flour came in could rip and let bugs in. Transfer your flour to an airtight container like a large jar or plastic box, suggests Susan Reid, chef and editor with King Arthur Flour. “Square containers take up 25% less space than round ones, so if you wish your freezer was 25% bigger, start saving those square plastic containers from your last takeout meal!” she told The Kitchn. (You’ve probably been storing these foods wrong.)

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Chill whole wheat flour

White flour is fine in the pantry, but whole wheat flour contains the oily wheat germ, which makes it go rancid quicker. “Whole grain products, from grains to flours, do even better in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, which will also prolong the shelf-life,” chef Sarah House of Bob’s Red Mill told Epicurious.

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Freeze herbs flat

Those plastic boxes of herbs won’t keep fresh basil and sage fresh very long. Eliminate waste by freezing whatever you don’t use. Lay your herbs in a zip-top bag with olive oil, spreading them flat like a sheet before you seal it. The thin layer will freeze the herbs quicker than in an ice cube tray, and it’s easy to cut off just as much as you need when you get cooking, according to Serious Eats. (Make sure you never keep these foods in the freezer.)

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Keep shredded cheese clump-free

Most store-bought shredded cheese has additives to keep it from sticking together, but clumps are common if you like shredding cheese yourself. To prevent pieces from sticking, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cornstarch into a plastic baggie with your cheese shreds, then shake to coat the cheese. The cornstarch will act as an anti-clumping agent, according to the blog Home-Ec 101.

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Don’t wrap cheese in plastic

Ditch the plastic wrapper your cheese came in—if it isn’t exposed to oxygen, your cheese will dry out quickly. Porous material will keep it fresh longer. Cheese paper is a go-to solution, but parchment paper also works in a pinch.

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Don’t rely on the pasta box

Sure, the box your dry pasta came in has a flap to keep it shut, but the cardboard isn’t airtight. Leaving leftover uncooked pasta inside could attract bugs and rodents. Keep pests away by transferring the noodles to an airtight container, recommends the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Keep ground coffee fresh

The package your coffee came in isn’t the best for keeping the grounds fresh. After you open the bag, pour the coffee grounds into an airtight storage canister. Pick one that won’t let light in to maintain the coffee’s great taste, suggests the National Coffee Association. (Make sure you never store these fresh foods together.)

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.