Do you start the week with the best of intentions to head to the farmer’s market or grocery store and buy, chop and prep all the produce? To get allll the nutrients from your fruits and veggies and radiate a healthy glow as you conquer the week?
Same, girl. Same.
But, let’s be real… sometimes, these ambitions turn out a little more like this…
Forgotten, wilted, overripe and slimy… even with the best planning, produce I had every intention of eating sometimes ends up at the bottom of the trash bin.
But with a few tips and tricks, it’s totally possible to keep your fruits and veggies fresher, longer—and actually use up what you buy! Hello, nutrients. Goodbye food waste. (And wasted money!)
Here are a few of my go-to strategies to get the most out of your produce:
1. Buy local
How long your food lasts depends on how fresh it is when you buy it. Local, in-season produce is your best bet… so hit up that farmer’s market.
2. Keep some fruits separate
Apples, bananas, citrus fruits, and tomatoes give off a gas called ethylene that makes other produce ripen faster. Keep ‘em separate!
3. Give greens room to breathe
Don’t crowd your greens—give ‘em the space the need. Untie any bunches—herbs, greens… you name it.
4. Cook fresh items that are a little past their prime
Veggies getting a little wrinkly? Roast em! This is a great way to use up veggies on their last leg in a delicious way.
5. Keep frozen food in airtight containers
Keeping air away from frozen food prevents ice crystals from forming and spoiling your food. Try freezing in a rectangular glass container so you can see what’s inside… and easily stack containers in the freezer. Pro tip: Always label frozen food with the date so you can keep track of how long it’s been in there and when to use it by.
6. Try canning
7. Use the crisper drawer
The higher humidity in this section of your refrigerator helps many veggies last longer. If your fridge allows you to adjust this setting, try a higher humidity for leafy greens and a lower humidity for non-leafy vegetables, like carrots and broccoli.
8. Keep your fridge at the right temperature
Keep your fridge between 37° and 40° F and your freezer between 0° and 2° F.
9. Know what to refrigerate and what to keep at room temperature
Some fruits and veggies want to chill out in your fridge, while others will fare better on the counter. Assuming your produce is ripe and ready to eat, follow these guidelines:
Keep ’em cool
- Asparagus (trim the ends and wrap in a damp paper towel)
- Beets (separate the leaves from the roots)
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Ginger (can also be frozen for up to 6 months)
- Green beans
- Mushrooms (in a paper bag)
- Non-cherry stone fruits (apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines)
- Pineapple (if sliced)
- Summer squash
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti, etc., if sliced)
Keep ‘em room temp
- Fresh herbs (put into a jar of water like a bouquet of flowers)
- Pineapple (if whole)
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti, etc., if whole)
- Sweet potatoes and yams
Bonus tip: Choose non-plastic, reusable containers
As we’re learning more about the chemicals in plastic—and how they can make their way into our food and do things like mess with our hormones (eek!)—I highly recommend storing food in non-plastic containers as often as possible. Plus, swapping out disposables helps out the earth and reduces waste. Win. Win.
Here are a few of my favorite reusable products, if you’re in the market:
Perfect for storing leftovers in the fridge. They’re clear so you can see what’s in them and they’re easy to stack. Plus, I love the satisfying click of snapping on the lids… that’s how you know they’re airtight! These ones in particular are great for meal prep.
These guys are perfect for storing sauces, dressings, pickles… you name it. I particularly like making dressings in these… toss in all your ingredients, screw on the lid, shake, and voila!
These wax coated wraps are a great alternative to plastic wrap—you simply use the warmth of your hands to soften the wrap and create a seal. They’re washable and last for about a year… and when they’ve reached the end of their life (RIP, little Bee’s Wrap) they’re compostable.
Produce preserving bags
These bad boys are a game changer! They make fruits and veggies last so much longer and can be used multiple times. So helpful for stretching the shelf life of your produce, giving you a little more wiggle room to work with.
Reusable produce bags
These little mesh bags are a nice replacement for the plastic green ones at the grocery store. And they’re washable! YAS.
What are your favorite reusable food storage products? Any other tips to share on keeping produce fresh and making the most out of your grocery story haul? Share in the comments below! And enjoy those delicious fruits and veggies, you health goddess, you 😉
Reference: A-Z Food Storage Guide, Eureka Recycling’s Make Dinner Not Waste Program.