Nobody wants to throw food away, but it happens, especially when you get busy and don’t have time to use it before it goes bad. Wasted food costs you money, and it’s not good for the environment either. We toss out fruits and vegetables more often than any other type of food; according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, on average, Americans pitch about 15 to 20 percent of available produce. These four simple strategies can help you save more fruits and vegetables from the trash bin.
Use What You Have
Before going to the store, know what fruits and vegetables are already on hand so you don’t buy extra that could go to waste. Plan to eat or deal with highly perishable items, such as apricots, berries, and mushrooms, first.
Freeze sliced bananas, fresh ripe berries, and peaches and plums that have been pitted and sliced, to use later in smoothies, smoothie bowls, and fruit desserts. Puree fruit for toppings on toast, waffles, and pancakes instead of syrup.
Get creative! Make vegetable soup from whatever is in your refrigerator. Use bits and pieces of chopped vegetables in salads, omelets, and frittatas. Roast vegetables—and fruit, such as grapes—for side dishes and to use as toppings on pizza made from whole wheat flatbread, naan, or English muffins.
Buying only the food you need saves on waste. Eat Smart Vegetable Bags offer a variety of fresh, trimmed vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and Brussels sprouts, so it’s clear how much you’re getting, and there’s no preparation necessary. You can take what you need out of the bag for meals and snacks and put the rest back in the vegetable crisper.
Eat Smart Salad Blends make for easy, delicious side dishes and, with the addition of chicken, seafood, beans, or other protein-rich foods, serve as the main attraction at meal times. With three unique flavors like Fresh Harvest, Garden Medley, and Hearty Greens, you’re bound to find one you love.
Store It Right
After grocery shopping, get perishables into the fridge or freezer ASAP. If you’re making stops before heading home from the store or farmer’s market, bring a cooler bag with you to keep produce cool. Purchase fresh produce toward the end of shopping trips so it stays fresh longer.
Set your refrigerator between 35˚F and 40˚F, and your freezer at 0˚F or below to keep food fresher longer. Don’t stuff the refrigerator or freezer with food; it makes it more difficult to reach the best temperature for food storage.
Consider using perforated plastic bags for produce, or make your own by poking tiny holes in resealable plastic bags to allow moisture to
escape. If you reseal produce in airtight plastic storage bags or containers, add a large paper towel to absorb the moisture that promotes faster decay.
Store fruits and veggies in separate crisper drawers, and don’t refrigerate bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, or onions; they like a drier environment than what a refrigerator provides. Apples, apricots, cantaloupe, kiwis, honeydew melon, and plums give off ethylene gas during ripening, causing other produce to ripen faster than you may like. Store these fruits in a crisper drawer away from other fruit.
Perk Up Produce
It’s possible to breathe new life into wilted kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens by placing them in ice water for 30 minutes. Cook and eat right away or freeze. Snip the ends off herbs, bunches of fresh greens and asparagus and place upright in water to get another day or two of freshness from them.
It’s actually OK to eat slightly bruised produce when you cut away the damaged area, but don’t buy fruits or vegetables with any cuts that could allow bacteria to grow.