Ever feel like you throw away more fresh produce than you and your family actually eat? Chances are it probably gets lost in your fridge or freezer when you need it and then magically reappears days or weeks later covered in mold or fuzz. Although this may make you want to avoid fresh produce altogether, I urge you to reconsider and incorporate some of these simple tactics to help you get the most out of your buying, saving, and storing practices.
Write down your pantry list and keep it visible. Consider purchasing two inexpensive white or colored dry-erase boards. Stick one on your freezer and one on your fridge. Every time you bring in groceries, write down what you have purchased on the respected white boards. That way if you need a particular food item for any given recipe, you can check your fridge or freezer list to see if you already have them tucked away. Once the food has been utilized, be sure to erase it from the board.
Revive your greens. Do you have wilted greens or lettuce ready to throw out? Before you do, try submerging them in cold water for up to about 15 minutes and then remove and refrigerate over night.
Use your produce bins correctly. There’s a reason most fridges come equipped with separate produce drawers. This allows you to store fruits and vegetables separately from each other, and this is an important aspect of fresh produce storage. Some fruits are known to give off the hormone ethylene while ripening and this can increase the ripening process of other produce, like vegetables, too.
Don’t have a separate drawer? Bags are also readily available to minimize the production of ethylene and can further extend the life of your favorite produce.
Hole-y veggies. Make sure the bags you store your vegetables in have perforated holes throughout the bag. This allows a nice, even flow of air to your veggies.
Don’t wash it. Wait, what? Some fruits like cherries are likely to grow mold quickly if you wash them long before you plan to eat them. Instead, wait to wash only the amounts you eat right before you plan to eat them.
Think a week at a time. When you write out your grocery list for the week, try to think ahead of the various meals and snacks you and your family will consume. Try to only buy for the week and avoid overbuying produce you know you can’t eat during that time period – even if its on sale!
Talk it out. Ask local sellers at farmers markets for their personal tips and opinions when it comes to making the most out of your fresh purchases.
Enhance your recipes. Utilize your left over fruits and vegetables by combining them with staple ingredients in your kitchen.
For example, do you have a can of white beans in your cupboard and maybe some left over red bell peppers you haven’t used yet? Say no more! Cat from Breakfast to Bed has a Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Sauce you will absolutely adore. Combining fresh produce with common on-hand ingredients? It’s a win-win!
So when it comes to buying and storing your fresh produce, what are your tips of the trade? We would love to hear about your fresh produce frustrations and how you’re working through them.
Breakfast to Bed is a blog written and maintained by Cat. Cat is one of Around the Plate’s Recipe Gurus and is a member of thePlate Community. As a recipe guru, Cat shares creative dishes and healthy recipes that anyone on a budget can enjoy. Find other nutrition experts, recipe gurus, and healthy eating champions on our community blog network.