The healthiest diets include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide essential nutrients that are vital for good health. But getting enough plant-based foods can be tricky. Less than 10% of adults in the U.S. eat the recommended number of vegetables each day, and it’s been estimated that Americans waste about 60 million tons of produce annually. Clearly, there’s some room for improvement. If keeping vegetables fresh is a challenge, consider these strategies to help reduce food spoilage.
Use Specialty Storage Containers
One of my all-time favorite food storage products is Tupperware’s FRIDGESMART* series. It’s the most effective way I’ve found to store fruits and vegetables for extended periods of time. Using these containers, most veggies stay crisp and vibrant for over a week, which is more than I can say for others I’ve tried. These days, I rarely see a mushy cucumber or floppy celery stalk.
How do they work? For one thing, they have a wavy bottom, which allows water to drain away from veggies. This keeps them from getting water-logged. The containers also have adjustable vents along the side, which regulate the amount of oxygen that’s allowed in. Oxygen speeds up the ripening process. Storage settings are conveniently listed on the side so you don’t have to rely on your memory to know which vent setting each item needs.
While the containers are a bit pricey compared to others on the market, I’ve owned mine for over 10 years now and they’ve more than paid for themselves if you consider the extended shelf life of my produce.
Be a Strategic Shopper
Whether you prefer to shop for groceries weekly or a few times a week, planning ahead helps keep vegetables fresh. When you know how much produce you’ll need ahead of time, you can avoid over-purchasing. Even if you only prepare two or three meals at home each week, a little planning can go a long way.
If your schedule is unpredictable, it might be wise to consider opting for frozen or canned produce because they have a much longer shelf-life than their fresh counterparts. Plus, frozen produce is usually the most nutrient-dense produce option — even compared to fresh veggies — because it’s frozen directly after harvest. Unless you’re buying locally, most of the fresh produce available in large supermarket chains have spent a long time on a truck — and precious nutrients get lost in transit.
Know Your Produce
Fruits and vegetables thrive under different conditions. Some do well when stored together; others not so much. Have you noticed that when you store apples and bananas near each other they spoil faster? That’s because apples produce ethylene, which accelerates the ripening process. Some fruits, like berries, last longer when they aren’t washed right away, so don’t rinse them until you’re ready to use them. And tomatoes last longer when they’re stored on the counter rather than the refrigerator.
Just remember: by keeping vegetables fresh longer, you’ll be more likely to eat them and reap the health benefits that come along with them.
What are your favorite tips for keeping vegetables fresh? Please share in the comments below or on our Living Upp Facebook page.
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