Contributed by Lauren Bailey
The first step to losing weight and getting fit is to change your diet and swap out all of the sugary, salty treats for more fruits and vegetables. But the cost of produce can add up if you're not a smart shopper – not to mention if you don't eat them in enough time they'll rot, which means you're just throwing money down the garbage bin (and that's not being frugally fit whatsoever). That said, to learn a few tricks on how to make your produce last longer so you can simultaneously get a better bang for your buck and get the nutritional value that you need to meet your fitness goals, try these practical tips below.
Don't Buy More than You Need
One of the easiest ways to conserve your money and not waste produce is to simply buy what you need. Never shop blindly. Come up with a few low-fat meal plans before hitting the grocery store so you know which fresh ingredients you'll need to place in your cart—this will also ensure that the produce will be used somehow and get eaten. Most fruits and vegetables only last about 4 to 5 days. So don't buy produce for the entire week (it's not meant to last that long). A better option is to go to the grocery story twice: once at the beginning (only buy a few fruits and veggies) then again towards the end of the week to last you throughout the weekend. * Always consume fresh produce first before snacking on dried fruit or another non-perishable food.
Keep Fruits and Veggies Separate
Just like with people, some fruits and veggies have bad chemistry. Fruits specifically release a gas called ethylene, which can speed up the rate that some vegetables ripen—which means to keep your fruits from killing your veggies, you should definitely keep them in separate bins or fruit bowls. Things that also speed up both fruits and veggies to ripen: washing them long before consumption, keeping them in a sealed bag (produce needs air, at least poke holes in it) and cutting the produce (best to use a whole tomato for example since the chemistry is changed with one single cut).
Lastly, when fruits and veggies are meeting their final days and I don’t know what to do with them, I generally put them in a blender and make some smoothies. Another option however is to freeze your aging produce—they can be kept in a freezer for several weeks (months in some cases) without compromising taste, shape, or any of the vitamins or antioxidants the produce may have. Some consumers just place the produce in a zip-tight baggie and stick them in the freezer, while others prefer to blanch their produce first than freeze—blanching cooks the produce mid-way, so when you are ready to use it only a short cooking time is require. This method is used with the frozen produce found in the supermarket.