Mum-of-six reveals hacks to keep food fresh for longer – and she spends just FIVE minutes planning meals every week

A MUM-OF-SIX has revealed the hacks she uses to keep food in her fridge so fresh that she only needs to do a grocery shop for her family once every three weeks.

Amy Lynn Cross, 45, from Washington, US, lives with her engineer husband Michel, 45, daughter Sydney, 20, and four foster children, all aged under seven.

Their eldest daughter, Jewel, 21, married in May and has left the nest.

With seven mouths to feed three times a day, the mum is a marvel at meal prep and only spends $275 (£200) every three weeks to feed everyone.

Amy even manages to cater for a soy allergy and gluten intolerance.

The mum sticks to her routine once she has purchased the food to keep it fresh for longer, using hacks such as soaking fresh produce in vinegar water.

The owner of a housekeeping company, Amy's choice to use her skills for her family's food spending was a recent development in their home.

When the family's fridge broke, the family were without a fridge as they saved for a new one, and hence the mum came up with clever ideas to keep food fresh for longer.

“In January 2020, we sat down and really went over our budget,” Amy told Jam Press.

“We were going to the store all the time, wasting food and never seemed like we had what we needed on hand" added the mum.

Amy said that the family were constantly buying from the grocery store, and even with three grocery stores and Costco across the street they were constantly looking for ingredients or wasting food.

“When we decided our budget, I started working on building a longer-term pantry, stocking our freezer," said Amy.

She added: “I would call our pantry a homestead pantry – we stock single ingredient items so I can make anything from scratch.”

Three years ago, Sydney, aged 17, was diagnosed with a tumour in her breast that made the family rethink and changes their diet.

Amy said: “Being a mama with a daughter who is facing a tumour and not knowing if she had cancer makes you change everything in your home.

“This is when we switched the entire family to organic and really started paying attention to the quality of what we were eating.

Sydney, now aged 20 is starting her third year of college at Washington State University, but her tumour changed the family forever.

With the parents now opting to buy organic and seasonal products, the family faced additional expenses.

Therefore cutting down their budget meant ensuring they made use of everything and made the food last rather than buying cheaper, lower quality food.

Surprisingly, I don’t spend much time at all planning – maybe five minutes a week."

Therefore cutting down their budget meant ensuring they made use of everything and made the food last rather than buying cheaper, lower quality food.

Amy said: “I buy produce in season and organic if possible, wash in vinegar water when I bring it home, then make sure it is completely dry before storing it away.

“With berries and greens, I put a piece of paper towel at the bottom of the airtight container to collect the moisture" added Amy

Another hack Amy shares are switching from plastic to glass containers which she said helps fruit and veg last longer.

“Other items like asparagus and green onions I store in water like you would flower and add water every few days," says the mum.

Amy also boasts that she bought blueberries and with the correct storage, made them last six weeks.

“I had them in my fridge marked with the date and not to eat so we could see how long they lasted," she said

"Six weeks was still prime but we still ate them at eight weeks in a smoothie with no mould on them” added Amy.

Amy says the trick of staying on top of her meal planning is simple and haveing a fully stocked fridge and freezer means she spends just five minutes each week deciding what the family will have.

She said: “Surprisingly, I don’t spend much time at all planning – maybe five minutes a week."

"I buy the same staples for produce so I always know what I have on hand and in our freezers, we have a year's worth of meat" added Amy.

Amy also keeps on top of what is in her fridge, to ensure she uses anything reaching its use-by date.

“Every couple of days I will look in the fridge and see if anything needs to be used up sooner like if I have peppers that are starting to wrinkle, I know that I will want to do something with them in the next week,” said the mum.

Amy now only does a food shop every three weeks and says that she has saved so much from not freestyle shopping.

She said: “By staying out of the stores and not mindlessly putting things in my cart I was able to save up to buy half a beef and organic chicken/pork from farmers.

Amy also credit's bulk buying as a good way to save money.

“If there is something that is on my list and is shelf-stable or can go in the freezer, I try to buy a year's quantity of it at a time, like 5lbs of salt instead of 4oz," she said.

"I recently bought 11lbs of honey. These are two items that basically never expire" added Amy.

Amy goes to produce stands which are another 30 mins drive away after going to the supermarket but does not mind because driving as the journey is so infrequent.

Amy said: “The evening after I go shopping, I do spend about an hour of actual washing produce then they layout to dry for three to five hours before I put them away.”

She added: "My goal always is to do two meals a week that are larger and that I can throw at least one meal in the freezer, then I always have a rotation of meals I can pull from the freezer on a busy night.”

The mum shares her hacks and tips for making food last longer on her blog, The Cross Legacy.

Amy said: “Anyone can dedicate a couple of hours once a month to prepping produce."

"If you know that to spend that energy one day a month and your family will have a healthy snack and easy meals for weeks, it is worth it" added Amy.

Amy explains that with her method you actually spend very little time visiting the grocery store and meal prepping as it's really only once a month.

“It is looking in your fridge every couple of days and making a plan for what needs to be used up or changing the form of how it is stored," said the mum.

If you are a mum of babies or children using a highchair see this story on how to keep their toys off the floor.

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