Making Your Produce Last
Last updated: March 2022
With trips to the grocery store more limited, you may find yourself becoming more and more adventurous in the kitchen. You may also be struggling with eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, as they can go bad quickly.
Produce tips for those living with type 2 diabetes
Here are a few tips on which fruits and vegetables to buy, as well as how to store or prepare them to make them last as long as possible!
Choose produce that is harder
Some fruits and vegetables have tougher exteriors that naturally make them last longer. Others, such as raspberries, have to be eaten quickly before they spoil. When you do make a trip to the grocery store, try to buy your favorites while also including some tougher options that will go the distance.
Some fruits to consider are:
- Apples: Keep them refrigerated in a separate drawer or fruit box to save them from bruising.
- Oranges: The peel helps them last, store them in an open basket on the counter.
- Kiwi: Another great option due to their very tough peel. Store in an open basket on the counter.
Some vegetables to consider are:
- Cucumbers: Keep them in the refrigerator. Cut into slices ahead of time to make for easy snacking. Only prepare enough that you will be able to finish in 2 days to avoid molding.
- Carrots: Consider buying large carrots and washing and slicing them yourself. Keep them in the bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Also, a great option to pre-slice and make available for easy snacking. Keep pre-sliced carrots in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Onions: Keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
- Celery: Keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Pre-slice for snacking and store in an airtight container.
- Cabbage: Red or green cabbage has an amazing refrigerator life. Remove the outer layer when ready to use and voila! A fresh vegetable awaits. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer as well.
How to store more vulnerable produce
This does not mean you cannot still purchase the easily-spoiled produce. Instead, take a few extra steps to make it last as long as possible.
- Bananas: Store on the counter and repurpose overripe bananas in recipes such as smoothies, ice cream, and even banana bread.
- Avocados: Store on the counter until ripe. You know it is ripe when the stem is easy to wiggle with your thumb. If you have leftovers, keep the pit inside and cover with the other half of the peel, place in a Ziploc bag, and put into the refrigerator. When ready to eat, scrape off the brown top, and voila!
- Berries: Wash and keep in the refrigerator. If they start to go bad, consider freezing them for later use.
- Broccoli and cauliflower: Blanch before freezing by placing broccoli in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then removing the vegetables and submerging them in an ice bath for 30 seconds before placing in a storage container and setting it in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it, try steaming or roasting as secondary cooking methods.
Be adventurous in your recipes
A final option when produce is starting to decline is being very adventurous in the way you use it. Consider throwing any extra vegetables into soups, salads, or sauces. Even spinach can be thrown into recipes for a great nutrient blast! Bananas added to any baking recipe can add moistness and sweetness.
What have you done to help your fruits and vegetables last longer?
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?