Due to the fact that fresh produce expires quickly, many people avoid buying fruits and vegetables even though they know the health benefits of eating them. With summer produce in full abundance and farmers markets up and running throughout the city, now is the perfect time to build healthy habits that will reduce waste while leading to better health. Routines are the key to incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try a few of the following ideas to build new habits that will keep you turning over fresh produce instead of tossing it.
Take a head count. Commit to eat an apple, or your favorite fruit, at the same time of day every day. This routine allows you to actually count how many pieces of fruit you will need to buy for yourself each week. Buy a few extra pieces for family members who grab an occasional fruit for a snack and you should be covered.
Place produce in sight. Now that you have the fruit, place them in a basket or bowl in plain sight on the kitchen island or even in a decorative bowl by the front door where you put your keys. This will prompt you to eat the fruit as you are building this new routine. It is easy to forget the fruit is there if it is stored in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator. Guys, place the bowl by your keys and wallet to trigger your memory that you need to take an apple on the road.
Give fruit its own space. Bananas accelerate ripening of other fruits that are near them. I store bananas away from my fruit basket of apples, pears and oranges. This routine keeps the other fruit from ripening and spoiling before I can eat them. It is recommended to store apples in a drawer of your refrigerator not touching each other. Once you have a routine of grabbing an apple a day, they will stay fresh longer in your refrigerator. If fridge space is limited, keep them out and eat them within one to two weeks .
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Stock up the freezer. If a banana gets too soft to eat, peel it, place it in a sandwich bag and freeze it in a larger freezer bag. A banana never goes to waste in our house. I routinely use frozen bananas in smoothies, or blend one frozen banana with 2 chocolate sandwich cookies for a frosty summer treat.
Splurge on organic. Leafy greens are so good for you, but they are one of the fastest vegetables to spoil. For just a little more money, organic greens will last well beyond seven days, giving you time to enjoy them. As greens begin to wilt, mix them into hot dishes, blend into smoothies or cook them into your morning eggs instead of counting them as a loss. I also prefer the plastic tubs instead of bagged greens for better storage.
Enjoy fruit as a sweet end to the meal. Fruit makes a great dessert anytime. Place a bowl of grapes on the table with dinner, and pass them around as the meal is wrapping up. I have found this trick keeps my family at the table just a few minutes longer, giving us just a little more quality time, and it guarantees those grapes do not go to waste.
Remember, wasting is part of the learning curve of building a healthier diet, but over time, you will learn how to repurpose fresh produce into meals that taste great and improve your health.