It is no secret, including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet is beneficial to your health. But, keeping a fridge stocked full of fresh produce might not be cost-effective or practical for your family, especially if you don’t live near a grocery store. And let’s face it, it’s no fun to stock up on produce only to have to throw it away when it goes bad a few days later.
Keep fruits and veggies fresh, and prevent food waste, with these 5 simple tips to make your fresh ingredients last an extra week (or more)!
1. Start with a Clean Refrigerator
Trust us, the last thing we want to do is add another chore to your to-do list, but we promise this will save you time and money in the long run. Before you store your produce and groceries in the fridge, give it a good wipe down. Make sure all expired products and spoiled produce go in the trash, and wipe down shelves and drawers with soap and water, or a gentle cleaning solution. This will eliminate any residual mold spores that are looking for some fresh produce to jump on. As a bonus, this will make it much easier to see what you have in your refrigerator so nothing gets left to rot just because it’s hiding behind a big bag of lettuce.
2. Treat your Herbs like Flowers
Herbs and leafy greens with stalks (like kale, swiss chard, and collard greens), store best when they are put in a jar or glass with water at the bottom, just like you would do for flowers. Then, for extra preservation, place a plastic bag over the top of the herbs or greens and store them in the refrigerator. This will keep them plump and prevent them from wilting.
3. Keep it Airtight and Dry
Mold needs two essential ingredients to grow: air and moisture. If you have chopped greens or loose veggies, like carrots or broccoli, store them in an airtight container or zip bag with a dry paper towel over them. The towel will absorb moisture, and the bag will keep any air away from the vegetables. Another simple technique to keep conditions dry is to make sure the refrigerator door stays closed! This means, preventing those moments where you open the door and wonder “what do I want…?” as you stare longingly inside of your fridge. Try to have an idea of exactly what you want to take out before you open the door!
4. Plan a Preparation Day
We know what it’s like to have the best of intentions with your veggies, but then never get around to using them. Plan some time after you grocery-shop to prepare your fruits and vegetables the way you want to use them (cut up a pineapple, slice peppers, dice sweet potatoes, chop broccoli), and then store them in an airtight container. This will save you a lot of time and energy when you want to use these items in your weekly meals or snacks. Pineapple is ready-to-pack for school lunches, and peppers are ready-to-saute for taco night!
5. Plan a Preservation Day
It’s always a good idea to carve out some time a few days after you grocery shop to preserve any leftover fruits or veggies. You could throw them in the freezer as-is, make a fruit crisp for dessert, or make a vegetable soup or sauce that can stretch your produce a few extra days. The key here is to make this preservation day part of your weekly plan. After a few weeks, you might realize you’ve preserved so many fruits and vegetables in your freezer that you can cut down on the amount of fresh produce you buy at the grocery store!
Before you go, we have one last bonus tip for you! Treat your kitchen like a restaurant. Restaurants always take inventory at the end of the week to see what’s leftover. If you’re always buying excess spinach, and never eating it, cut down on the spinach on your next purchase, or have a clear plan on how you’re going to use it next time you buy it. Going to the store with a list and an idea of how you’re going to use the items on your list can help immensely when it comes to buying the right amount of food.
We’d love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these tips? Have they helped you reduce food waste and make your fresh ingredients last longer? Let us know in the comments below!