Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving Money on Food, Part 2 - Produce Edition

You'll remember a few weeks ago when Frugal Femme started our "Saving Money on Food" feature - she talked about cupboard challenges and using up food before it goes bad instead of throwing it away. I find the most of what I waste is produce, and a lot of that is due to not storing it properly. After talking to local farmers and researching on the web, food storage makes a huge difference. For one thing, if produce is stored properly, it has a longer life. Not only that, but if it's stored incorrectly, you could be unknowingly sacrificing many vitamins and minerals! Here are some tips:

Keep Food Dry

Moisture is one of the biggest reasons we lose fruits and veggies - it causes them to rot and get moldy! Don't wash your produce until you're ready to use them.

Keep Produce Cold

There is an exception to this rule for some items (apricots, avocados, bananas, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, pears, pineapple, plums, potatoes, tomatoes and onions), but almost everything else should be kept in the refrigerator. It slows the aging process and keeps produce fresher longer and keeps vitamins in tact.

All Refrigerator Space is NOT Created Equal

Do you know that some places in your refrigerator are better for storing specific produce items than others? For instance, keep berries in the front of your fridge - it's warmer there. Other things that can go in the front? Citrus, melons, corn, and peas. Your crisper drawers are for things that need a little more humidity, like leafy greens and lettuce, fresh herbs, cucumber, broccoli, radishes, carrots, zucchini and other squash, eggplant, green beans, and peppers. Apples, cherries and grapes stand up pretty well so they can go just about anywhere.


It's so sad/frustrating/wasteful when I buy perfectly good fruits and vegetables and I forget about them until they have a layer of fuzz. It might actually be more entertaining to light money on fire. I make sure to use the produce that goes bad quicker (mushrooms, berries and greens) first. For certain fruits, I try to figure out another way to use them if they might be going bad soon. Overripe bananas are the best for a good banana bread, and freezing berries for smoothies or baking would be a good way to use things that might have a quick shelf life.

Any tips you'd like to share about using food up before it goes bad? I'd love to hear!

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