As you walk through the produce section of your grocery store, you might have high hopes for eating healthy this week. So, you stock up on everything from spinach and tomatoes to blueberries and bananas.
Unfortunately, those hopes dwindle throughout the busy week, and your fruits and vegetables spoil before you get to use them.
Food waste is a huge problem across the globe. In the U.S., 30% of all food is thrown away each year, and fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage rate.
So, what can you do to stop pitching your produce? How can you extend the life of your fruits and vegetables and make sure you’re using them before they go bad? Let’s cover a few helpful tips you can use to reduce food waste in your home.
Find Ways to Extend the Life of Your Produce
Sometimes, it can seem like you just get your produce home from the store, and it goes bad within a day or two. However, you have to keep in mind that you didn’t harvest that fruit or vegetable yourself and bring it inside on the same day.
If produce is harvested from a farm less than 100 miles from your store, it can take about a day to get there. If it’s over 100 miles away, it can spend up to three days en route. Time is already working against you.
Thankfully, when you get your produce home, there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your food, no matter how long it’s been sitting at the store.
The easiest way to keep it fresh longer is to refrigerate it. Most items will last longer with refrigeration, slowing down the ripening process. Make sure your fridge is running properly and is cold enough to handle a “full load” of produce and other perishable products. If it isn’t working the way it should, it may need troubleshooting or repair. Remove anything blocking the cooling vents, clean the condenser coils, and consider calling a professional if you can’t get it to cool down yourself.
Aside from storing your produce in your refrigerator, you can help it last longer by
- Storing it dry (washing, drying, storing in resealable bags)
- Swaddling your herbs in a paper towel
- Isolating gassy produce like apples and bananas
- Freezing items you’re not going to use right away
Finally, plan ahead and be realistic when you go to the store. You might have the best of intentions for eating more fruits and vegetables during the week, but going overboard increases the chance that you’ll waste more. Start smaller with your produce purchases, and add more as you determine what you and your family really consume each week.
Find Creative Ways to Use Your Fruits and Veggies
If you want to eat healthier and buy more produce, but you have a hard time using everything up, you might need a few helpful ideas and recipes. Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be boring or tasteless. You can do plenty of things to make them exciting – even for kids. Try things like
- Baked zucchini chips
- Colorful fruit salads
- Oven-baked sweet potato fries
Because fruits and vegetables are so high in essential vitamins and minerals, it’s important to include as many as possible in your diet. If you have some picky eaters in your house, consider “hiding” vegetables in dishes by blending them into sauces. Or, get creative with your presentations. Kids are more likely to eat something when it’s visually appealing, so try things like making shapes or pictures on a plate of fresh fruit, or incorporating a few vegetables into a meal they already enjoy. You can take a similar approach for yourself if you’re having a hard time getting enough produce in your diet. Be creative. Have fun. Keep things exciting.
What to Do With Produce That’s About to Go Bad
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your fruits and veggies might start to look less vibrant throughout the week. Lettuce leaves can start to wilt. Apples can start to get brown spots. Blueberries can get soft and mushy.
That doesn’t mean your produce has gone bad yet, but it’s certainly on the verge. When fruits and vegetables don’t look their best, you’re less likely to eat them. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw them away just yet.
If you have produce that might only have a day or two of “life” left, consider chopping some of it up for a nutritious smoothie or juicing some of it. You won’t notice any blemishes then, and you’ll be able to use a lot of it all at once. If you have a lot of overripe berries, try blending them up and turning them into a delicious jam for your morning toast!
Another good idea is to consider cooking for your dog. Sharing some of your fruits and vegetables with your four-legged friend is a great way to use it up and improve their nutrition in the process. Before you start passing your produce to your pup, however, make sure you know what they can and can’t have. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for dogs include
If you’re trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, you’re already taking charge of your health. Go beyond good intentions and make sure the produce you purchase each week doesn’t go to waste. By keeping these ideas in mind, you can stop throwing away so many fruits and vegetables each week and get more of the nutrition your body needs.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Just 1 in 10 adults meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations, according to a study published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). This report highlights that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, putting them at risk for chronic diseases.
Studies have shown that supplementation with extracts from fruits and vegetables may improve age-related changes.
NutriFusion develops all‐natural fruit and/or vegetable powders that are nutrient dense for use in foods, beverages, supplements, and pet foods.
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