[Updated 4 June 2021]
With some states in Malaysia are reentering CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order) and Singapore adopting social distancing measures, we're sure many of you are looking for ways to cut down the number of times you visit the supermarket in a week. Besides having a grocery checklist to help make your grocery run more efficient, you might also be wondering which food items have a longer shelf-life. Perhaps, you're even thinking about what ingredients you should buy next so you can whip up some yummy dishes with new recipes. That's why we've come up with this list of long-lasting food items that you can get at the supermarkets!
Vegetables and fruits:
1. Frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables might not be an obvious choice when it comes to buying vegetables but did you know that it's just as nutritious (if not, more nutritious!) than fresh vegetables? They are usually picked when they are ripe and then flash frozen which means their nutrients are preserved. The best part is that they can last longer too, up to 8 months in the freezer ? You can find a range of frozen veggies from mixed vegetables to broccoli, peas, chopped spinach and more!
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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so of course, you'd want to stock up on these (and other immunity-boosting foods) during this period! Apples are great as they can last 3 weeks in room temperature but to extend their shelf-life to 6 weeks or more, put them in the fridge!
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Potatoes are a great ingredient for your carbs, especially if you get sick of eating too much rice or noodles ? They can last about 1 to 2 months in your kitchen (even better in the fridge!). Just make sure that you keep them in a cool and dark area as they turn green and become inedible when exposed to light.
If your carrots are fresh, raw and unpeeled, they can last for 3-4 weeks but make sure you keep them in the fridge. Better still, store them in a plastic bag so you can maximise their shelf-life. Cut raw carrots can last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
#HHWT Tip: If you intend to keep them even longer, put them in the freezer and they can last for 10-12 months!
With lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre, leafy greens are good for a healthy diet but the only problem is that many of them don't last long ? But thankfully, the cruciferous veggies like cabbage can last longer, about 1 to 2 months in the fridge! Just make sure to store it in a plastic bag and don't wash until you're about to use them.
Cauliflowers are a great ingredient to have in your meals as they decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. You can also substitute your rice intake with cauliflower ? To maximise its shelf-life, keep them loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge and they can last for up to 2 weeks. You can also cut them if you wish, and they can last up to a week.
P.S. Check out these 10 healthy and delicious recipes you can make at home!
7. Romaine lettuce
Besides cabbage, romaine lettuce is another leafy veggie that can last longer than others. Store them in a loosely closed plastic bag in the fridge and don't wash them till you're ready to eat them. They should last for about 7-10 days.
What's not to love about lemons? They are high in Vitamin C, improve digestion and relieve stress and fatigue - just what you need in this period! What's great is that you can keep store them in a plastic bag and keep them refrigerated for 3 to 4 weeks (about a week in room temperature).
#HHWT Tip: Freezing a whole lemon will extend its shelf-life to 3 or 4 months!
Limes are a great item to stock up on as they are super versatile. Not only are they high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, you can use them for almost anything. You can pretty much squeeze them on any dish for a slight tang or have them in your beverage ? They can last for up to 2 weeks in room temperature but keep them refrigerated and they can last for about a month. Better still, keep them in a sealed bag and you might just extend their shelf-life for a few weeks more.
You can't talk about lemons and limes without including oranges, can you? Whether you eat them as they are or make orange juice, you can't deny that oranges are tasty and nutritious. For those of you who plan to add oranges to your desserts and bakes, you'd be happy to know that they will last in room temperature for about a week. But keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag and you'll have them for 3 to 4 weeks ?
Low in calories, packed with water, perfect for lowering blood pressure and more, celery is great for soups and juices. Raw celery can last in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. If you get the prepackaged celery, they only last a few days so we'd recommend getting raw celery instead.
12. White Radish
White radish (also called daikon) are usually used in soups or as pickled vegetables. What's more, they are good to treat stomach and intestinal disorders and are good for the heart. You can keep them refrigerated for around 10 t0 14 days. Make sure to keep them in a plastic bag.
There are many ways to savour eggplant, whether you bake it or stir-fry it into a dish like sambal terung (sambal eggplant) ? The general rule of thumb is that they can last 7 to 10 days in the fridge and make sure they aren't sealed with any wraps (to prevent decay). But how long they last also depends on the condition in which you purchase them. When choosing eggplants at the supermarket, make sure they are quite firm to the touch and look out for bruises!
From pumpkin pies, puree to soups and even your own Pumpkin Spiced Latte, pumpkins are a great way to jazz up your cooking routine ? Even if you've bought a pumpkin and not sure when you'd have the time to use it, the good news is that it can be kept for 2-3 months in a cool and dark place. If you keep them refrigerated, they can last up till 3-5 months!
15. Green bean
Green beans might only last 3-5 days in the fridge but if you'd like to keep them longer, you can store them in the freezer. They can last for 12 to 18 months! There are a few ways that you can prolong their shelf-life before putting them in the freezer like blanching them (put in boiling water for 3 min then ice water), package in an airtight container or wash thoroughly and remove the ends.
Rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, corn is amazing for any occasion, whether you toss it in your salad or eat it on the cob. They can last 5 to 7 days in the fridge but you have to make sure that the husks are tightly wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag until they are ready to be used. Alternatively, you can freeze corn for about 6 to 8 months but you need to blanch or cook it beforehand, then place it in containers.
Onions are a must-have ingredient in every household. Besides being a great flavour base for soups and sauces, it goes well with almost any dish including omelettes, burgers, stir-fry and more.
Milk, eggs, dairy products:
18. UHT milk
Worried about finishing up your fresh milk supply in a short amount of time? Then get UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk instead! The good thing about UHT milk is that it can be stored in room temperature for about 6 to 9 months without opening. Even after you've opened it, you store it for about 7 to 10 days in the fridge.
#HHWT Tip: To prolong the shelf-life of UHT milk after you've opened it, place it in the main body of the fridge instead of the fridge door!
It's hard to imagine a life without eggs ? And thankfully, they are long-lasting too! Store them in the fridge and they are good to go for 3 to 5 weeks.
#HHWT Tip: Do note that you still need to keep a lookout for bad eggs. If the yolk and white seem thin with a runny reddish colouring or a bad smell, then it's not suitable for consumption. Alternatively, you can do the float test - if it floats to the surface, it means it's not safe to eat.
20. Hard cheese
Credit: KetuharBakeri on Facebook
For cheese, the general rule is that the harder they are, the longer they can last. Hard cheeses like Parmesan, cheddar and Romano can usually last for about 2 to 4 months if they are in unopened packages and stored in the fridge. But even if you've opened them, they can last for about 6 weeks in the fridge, so there's not much to worry about ?
#HHWT Tip: To keep your cheese for an even longer time, you can keep them in the freezer for up to 8 months! Just make a note that they might taste slightly different than fresh cheese.
21. Semihard/semisoft cheese
For semi-hard and semi-soft cheeses like Gouda and Gruyère, they can last in the fridge for about 2 to 3 weeks after they are opened, and up to 2 months in the freezer.
22. Soft cheese
Credit: MyStarry Kitchen on Facebook
If you're thinking of buying soft cheeses to whip up grilled cheese sandwiches or pizzas, we'd recommend getting mozzarella and brie as their shelf-life is generally longer than other soft cheeses. They last about 1 to 2 weeks in the fridges, and 6 months in the freezer.
#HHWT Tip: To keep the cheese for even longer after opening, wrap them in wax or parchment paper and then a plastic wrap before you put them in the fridge.
Pantry staples that can last long (usually more than 6 months):
Cooking & baking staples
- Cooking oil
- Flavourings like soy sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, spices, bouillon cubes, dehydrated stock, chilli pastes
- White rice (you can keep white rice indefinitely if it is placed in an airtight container in a cool, dry setting), brown rice won't keep for as long
- Baking powder, baking soda, flour, yeast, and any additional ingredients depending on what you plan to bake
Shelf-stable foods and canned items
- Ready-to-eat items like canned tuna or sardines, soups, pasta sauce, instant noodles or Brahim's packets
- Dried pasta
- Go-to condiments (e.g. peanut butter, jam, ketchup, chilli sauce, maple syrup, etc.)
- Beverages (e.g. instant coffee, tea, Milo, Nestum)
- Canned ingredients such as mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, legumes, carrots, corn, pumpkin, spinach
- Powdered milk
- Baby formula and/or baby food, if you have children that consume it
- Nuts (refer to this link for the different types of nuts and their shelf-life)
- Biscuits, crackers
- Dried fruit - (e.g. raisins, dried apricots, dried mangoes)
- Granola bars
BONUS: Tips for keeping seafood/meat/poultry
To keep seafood, meat and poultry items for a longer time, put them in the freezer. If you intend to freeze meat and poultry for a few months, seal them in airtight packages. For seafood, you can leave them in their original packaging and put them in the freezer. Alternatively, you can purchase vacuum-packed frozen meats and poultry from the supermarket. Here's a rough guideline of how long they can generally last in the freezer:
Meat (beef, lamb)
- Chops - 6 months
- Steaks - 6 months
- Ground/minced - 3 to 4 months
Poultry (chicken, turkey)
- Pieces - 6 to 9 months
- Whole - 6 months to 1 year
- Ground/minced - 4 months
- Fresh lean fish (eg. tilapia, cod, flounder) - 2 to 6 months
- Frozen fish - 6 months
- Fresh shrimp - 6 months
- Frozen shrimp - 6 months
- Packaged crabmeat - 3 months
Note: Some fatty fish like mackerel and salmon and live whole crabs, lobsters are not good for freezing.
With this list, we hope you'll have a more efficient time at the supermarket! Plus, if these items are not already on your grocery list, it'll be the perfect time to start thinking of new recipes that you can make while you're staying home ? Time for some grocery shopping!