After sharing my grocery haul video and mentioning that I only grocery shop once a month, with a few exceptions, I had a flood of questions about how I keep produce fresh. Keep reading for my top 8 tips!
Buying groceries for the month makes it easy for me to come up with meals and saves me lots of trips to the grocery store. I love having fresh produce as much as the next guy, and I have found ways to make it last longer so we can.
With a few simple tips, most of which seem obvious, you can have produce for a month after one grocery trip.
Watch my grocery haul video HERE.
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#1 BUY A MIXTURE OF RIPE AND UNRIPE PRODUCE
This is my biggest tip, and it may seem very obvious, but hey, you all asked for my tips! 😉 Produce can take a while to ripen, especially if you keep it in the fridge. Only buy ripe produce for the next few days and buy the rest unripe.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I buy at least 50 avocados. When I go to the checkout, without fail, they ask me what I am going to do with all these avocados. Everyone wonders how we can eat them before they go bad.
When I buy avocados, I pick out a handful of ripe ones, and for the rest, I choose ones that are rock solid hard. When I get home, I put them all in the refrigerator.
Once we eat all the ripe ones, or when we start to run out of ripe ones, I place a handful of unripe ones on the counter. They don’t take long to ripen on the counter, and basically, don’t ripe at all in the refrigerator. I continue this process, so we always have a few ripe.
I have been doing this for years, and we always eat them well before they go bad.
#2 FREEZE IT
I buy a lot of fresh produce for my kids to munch on for snacks or for certain recipes. We eat it fresh for the first few days or until it fully ripens, and then I preserve the rest by putting it in the freezer.
I love to add spinach to our eggs in the morning or in our afternoon smoothies. I have noticed that it doesn’t matter if the spinach is fresh or frozen. Often our nearby grocery store will have a sale on organic spinach, and I will buy it all. I put it in the freezer before it goes bad and grab it out by the handful as needed.
If I ever see a sale on berries, bananas, or greens, I will buy in bulk and freeze it. Frozen berries are great for smoothies, snacks, or recipes. I always use frozen blueberries when I am making muffins, and they turn out great!
I buy several (by several, I mean 20) bunches of unripe bananas at a time, so many that the cashiers question me on this one too! Between the 4 kids using the grocery cart as a jungle gym and the ridiculous amount of produce, I get a lot of attention in the grocery store. Ha!
I leave the bananas on the counter, and we eat them until they get overly ripe. Then I peel them, break them in half, put them in a gallon size ziplock bag, and finally freeze them. We then use them in smoothies and don’t have fresh bananas until we go to the store again. My kids actually love to eat frozen bananas as a snack.
Sometimes my local grocery store and produce stand will have bags of overripe bananas on sale. I buy them all and freeze them for snacks and smoothies.
#3 STORE IN COOL DARK ENVIRONMENT
Lots of produce will last way longer than you probably think. A lot of the produce I buy doesn’t require special attention, other than placing it in a certain place.
I buy a lot of butternut squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, and celery. I put butternut squash and potatoes in my pantry or the basement, and they are good for at least a month.
One year I grew a ton of butternut squash in my garden, and my local produce stand was basically giving them away. Let’s just say I ended up with boxes and boxes of butternut squash.
I place the boxes in the basement and just brought a few up at a time. We ate every single one before they went bad, and we had them for months.
I have found that sweet potatoes don’t last as long as regular potatoes, so I have to keep a close eye on the sweet ones. If they start to get ripe or bad before we eat them all, I will put them in the refrigerator.
Last year, my generous Aunt gave me boxes of potatoes from her garden. They were already in her basement for a while, and she was worried they wouldn’t eat them all before they went bad. Several of them already had started to sprout when we got them.
I kept them in my basement and only brought up the ones I needed for the night. By golly, we ate them all before they went bad; we had them for a couple of months.
#4 KEEP IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Things like apples, carrots, celery, onions, and oranges are produce that I buy often and most likely to be in my refrigerator at all times. I have found that these items stay fresh in the fridge very well.
Onions, carrots, and celery all last for a long time when kept refrigerated.
Of course, storing your produce properly can help your food to stay fresh longer.
Try adding a dry paper towel into the berry container to absorb moisture to keep berries fresh longer.
#6 KEEP THE PRODUCE UNWASHED UNITL READY TO EAT
It is common to run the grapes or strawberries straight under the water faucet when you get home from the store. This is a big no-no when trying to keep produce longer. Washing it can add extra moisture and cause the fruit to soil sooner.
If you do decide to wash right when you get home from the store, be sure that the produce is completely dry before storing it.
#7 FERMENT THINGS
Y’all know my obsession with fermentation and live cultures by now! Fermenting vegetables is a wonderful way to preserve produce. I mean, that is what Ma Ingalls did.
I make a couple of gallons of sauerkraut every month; get my full recipe here. So that means I buy a ton of cabbage on my grocery day. When I get home, I turn that cabbage into sauerkraut, and sauerkraut can last up to 9 months.
You can also ferment cucumbers, onions, carrots, and so much more!
You can also can things, but I have found that fermenting and freezing are the easiest way for me to preserve produce.
#8 GROW YOUR OWN
During the spring and summer, we have a large garden that takes care of most of our produce. During this time of year, I can cut way down on the amount of fresh produce I buy, and I use this time to stock up on fresh produce at the farmer’s market.
I then use the tips I shared above to preserve the vegetables for the month.
I hope these tips are helpful, and you can apply a few of these to make your life a little easier!