Up your aunty game with these life-changing supermarket hacks.
1. Choosing Fruit
Any aunty worth her PAssion Card points should know how to pick fresh fruit properly. You probably already know how to pick the easy ones like bananas and apples (don’t you? *lifts eyebrow*), but here’s how to deal with trickier fruit.
A ripe avocado should be dark green with hints of purple. It should also feel firm, but not hard – a good gauge would be to compare it to your face. If you poke the avocado and it feels as hard as your forehead, it’s probably not ripe enough yet. If it feels soft like your cheek, it’s too ripe. However, if it feels like the tip of your nose, the avocado should be just about right.
Another trick is to remove the stem of the avocado and check its colour. If the flesh is green (not yellow-green), it should be ripe.
Check the bud petal at the tip of the fruit – the more creases there are, the riper the fruit is. The ends of the petals should not be brown. Also, the dragon fruit should be bright in colour and feel firm to the touch.
(Source: arsheffield’s Flickr)
A fresh orange should feel heavy, with firm skin. If you poke it lightly with your finger (not fingernail), you should be able to feel how firm the flesh is. If the orange feels too hard, it will probably be less juicy.
(Source: Frédérique Voisin-Demery’s Flickr)
Pineapples are a bit trickier to pick, because they don’t really ripen after they’ve been harvested. To determine if a pineapple is ripe enough, smell the bottom of the fruit. If it smells sweet, it should be ripe. However, if it smells fermented, the pineapple is probably overripe.
Another way to tell if a pineapple is ripe is by its shape and colour. Pick one that is short and round, with more yellow than green on its body – it is likely that the sweetness will be more evenly distributed within the fruit.
(Source: areta ekarafi’s Flickr)
Ripe pomegranates tend to be more angular than round, and the skin should be shiny and firm. A juicy pomegranate should also feel slightly heavier in your hand.
(Source: Denis Karpenkov’s Flickr)
Look for the field spot, which is the discoloured patch on the base of the watermelon. This is where the watermelon rested on while it was growing. Ripe watermelons should have a dark yellow field spot. Also, the smaller the field spot, the thinner the watermelon skin.
Hit the watermelon lightly and you should hear an airy, hollow sound. If it sounds like a drum, then the watermelon is probably too ripe.
2. Choosing Milk, Yoghurt or Bread
Whenever you’re shopping for fresh products like milk, yogurt or bread, reach for the products at the back of the shelves. Sure, you may look extra aunty while doing so, but who cares when you’ll be getting fresher products for the same price? Supermarkets tend to place newer batches at the back of the shelves, so that the older batches will clear first.
(Source: Mike Mozart’s Flickr)
3. Look at the lower shelves
Most supermarkets tend to display premium products at eye level, so shoppers are more inclined to buy those instead of cheaper alternatives. Instead of reaching for the first option you see, take a look at the lower shelves – you’ll probably find some cheaper alternatives there.
(Source: Danny Nicholson’s Flickr)
4. Buy refrigerated or frozen products last
If you’re the kind of shopper who likes to take your time browsing at the supermarket, pick up the frozen or refrigerated items on your list last. This way, you can browse for as long as you want, without having to worry about rushing home to refrigerate some of your groceries.
5. Plastic Bags
You know how it can be tricky to separate fresh, new plastic bags sometimes? That’s what the wet sponge (or towel) at the counter is for. Yes, it may sound kind of unhygienic (and not to mention gross), but any bonafide aunty will tell you that this little trick works.
And while we’re on the topic of plastic bags…please also learn how to fold your plastic bags into neat little aunty-approved triangles OK?
6. Keep a laundry basket in your car
Keep an empty laundry basket in your car, so you can load shopping bags or groceries directly into it.
7. Take a photo of your fridge.
Take a photo of the inside of your fridge before hitting the supermarket, so you’ll have a better idea of what you already have at home.
Also, never shop on an empty stomach. Everything looks extra tempting when you’re hungry, so you’ll probably end up with one too many impulsive purchases.
(Source: slate.com/Mark Menjivar)
8. Get friendly with the resident promoters and cashiers
Turn on your aunty charm and get to know the resident promoters or cashiers at your local supermarket. Many of them have inside information on ongoing promotions, freebies and even when fresh items will be restocked, so you’ll always be in the know.
9. Membership and Bank Cards
If you’re not already a PAssion Card or NTUC FairPrice member, please go sign-up now. Like, now. Both membership programmes let you accumulate points when you buy groceries, which can be redeemed for rebates or vouchers. The membership fee is not expensive ($12 for 5 years for the PAssion Card), and you get quite a wide range of perks.
Certain credit cards also offer cashback on supermarket shopping, such as the POSB Everyday Card and UOB One Card.
10. How To Store Your Groceries
Now that you’ve got all your groceries home, here’s how to store them in an aunty-approved manner.
- Store fresh vegetables in a plastic bag and poke a few holes in the bag to allow for air circulation.
- Wrap crunchier vegetables (i.e. celery or cucumbers) in aluminium foil to keep them crisp and crunchy longer.
- Store garlic in its mesh bag and separate the cloves if possible. If you have space, hang the bag of garlic so that it will stay fresh longer.
- Only wash vegetables before cooking, as any extra moisture might make them go bad faster in the fridge.
(Source: John Nakamura Remy’s Flickr)
- If you plan to keep fresh meat longer than a few days, remove it from the styrofoam dish and place it in an airtight container in the freezer instead. Styrofoam containers can contaminate the meat with harmful toxins, so you should only use it as temporary storage.
- Cooking for one? Portion fresh meat into separate Ziploc bags before freezing, so you don’t have to thaw a big chunk each time you want to cook. Be sure to write down the date of purchase and type of meat on the Ziploc bag.
- Always store fresh meat at the bottom of your fridge or freezer, in case it leaks and contaminates the food below it.
- Certain fruit and vegetables produce ethylene gas (which speeds up the ripening process), while others are more susceptible to it. Refer to the chart below for more information.
- If you tend to eat a certain fruit every day (i.e. bananas), pick them in varying degrees of ripeness so you won’t be stuck with a bunch of overripe fruit at the end of the week.