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Tips for Making Produce Last Longer

Jul 12, 2023 06:00AM ● By Debra Caffrey

Most people don’t believe me when I say that I only shop for food twice a month. Biweekly shopping may not work best for every household, but I promise you that less frequent food shopping in general is the path to spending less money! The most common question I get asked is, “How does your produce stay fresh that long?” While it’s true that I may pick up extra berries when I get a milk “mid-cycle” to last me through until my next big shop, most produce lasts a lot longer than you may think. If you’re still doubtful, here are some of my best tips for keeping your produce lasting as long as they can so you can focus on wasting less and saving more!

  • Make Veggies Vases. Storing produce like asparagus and fresh herbs upright in water like a bouquet of flowers can slow wilting.
  • Keep the Bags. Keeping your veggies in the plastic bags from the store will prevent their moisture from evaporating, which makes them go limp otherwise.
  • Keep Ripe Stuff in the Fridge. It’s OK to keep things like avocados and tomatoes out at room temperature to ripen a bit, but once that happens, get them in the fridge! All food eventually rots, but cold temps slow down this process until you’re ready to use.
  • Swaddle Your Greens. Treat your lettuce and leafy greens like babies and swaddle them with paper towels, then bag them. This will draw moisture away and keep them dry.
  • Separate Gassy Culprits. Some produce like apples and onions release ethylene gas, which can cause other fruits and veggies to ripen prematurely. It’s best to keep these gassy guys away from more perishable produce.
  • Use Citrus to Cease Browning. If you’re only using half an avocado, squirt a little lemon juice on the exposed flesh, which will help slow down the browning process until the next day. Speaking of citrus, if you only need half a lemon, wrapping the other half in plastic wrap in the fridge keeps for a long time.
  • The Freezer is Your Friend. Rescue berries that are on their way out by bagging them and throwing in the freezer for a later smoothie recipe. Ditto for bananas you didn’t get to. You can chop veggies in advance and freeze them for easy cooking later on.
Finally, the most important way you can save on groceries and keep your produce lasting as long as possible to avoid unnecessary shopping is to prioritize eating more perishable produce in the beginning of your time home from the store, then taper down into using ones that last longer as it gets closer to your next shop. For instance, meal plan to use up the bag of fresh spinach and strawberries first, and save the meals that use green cabbage and potatoes for later on. With a few of these tricks, you won’t have to panic that things are rotting and waste money on buying more than you need!
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