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How You're Wasting Money in the Kitchen

Consumer Reports reveals money-wasting spots and what to do about them

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Too much food in the refrigerator could cost you more money
  • Aerosol cooking spray may damage your cookware
  • Certain fruits may make other foods spoil faster

Let’s start with your fridge. You should follow your mom’s advice and avoid standing there with the doors open figuring out what to grab. But a less obvious money-waster is overfilling your fridge. Cold air needs room to circulate in a fridge. If it’s overstuffed, it’s going to use more energy and cause more wear and tear on the appliance.

Your refrigerator’s condenser coils collect dust and other debris that tax the compressor and could lead to a pricey breakdown. To help prevent this, brush and vacuum the coils every six months.

Next: your oven. Consider using it less and cooking smaller meals in your toaster oven, microwave or air fryer to shrink your energy bill.

You might be wasting money on cookware by wearing it out. Try to avoid using aerosol cooking spray on your nonstick cookware. It can actually build up on the surface and damage it.

If you use a nonstick skillet for high-temperature cooking — like searing meat — your pan’s coating will wear out more quickly and you’ll need to replace it. Consider investing in a cast-iron pan. Some of CR Best Buy skillets cost around $25.

You can save energy by not scrubbing pots and pans with the water running. Let them soak in soapy water first; that should do the trick.

Next, your dishwasher uses more water and will wear out twice as fast if you run it half-empty. You should fill it up. And don’t waste energy pre-rinsing dishes. Your dishwasher’s built-in sensors will adjust the wash cycle to get them clean.

And lastly, one of the biggest kitchen money-wasters is tossing spoiled food. We throw out a quarter of all the groceries we buy.

Here are some tips to help food last longer:

  • You shouldn’t store milk on the refrigerator door. In Consumer Reports tests, that space is often the warmest. Instead, keep your condiments there.
  • To help prevent your produce from going bad before you have a chance to use it, store apples, apricots, and pears in a separate bin in your refrigerator. Those fruits give off a gas called ethylene that causes produce near them to ripen.

Making these little changes can stop some of your money from going down the drain.

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