Sunday, September 21, 2014

8 Ways to Use Produce Before It Spoils

Part of eating healthier meals means buying fresh produce at least once a week. And unfortunately, sometimes that produce spoils before I get around to using it. I'm not sure if I forget that it's there or I'm not sure what to do with it....I just know that I've been working toward the goal of not wasting food (and money). So I made a list of all the ways I can use our produce before it goes bad. For those that are in the same boat, here are eight tips for making the most out of your produce.

1. Just eat 'em. This is obviously the common sense answer and probably one of the least used when it comes to vegetables (at least, in our house). Although, I do enjoy raw zucchini (random, I know). I also recommend using dips if you're struggling to eat produce by itself. Hummus, fruit dips, guacamole, even ranch dressing would work.

2. Grill 'em. If we're already cooking on the grill, I try to throw some veggies out there, too. Most of the time we don't even use skewers or a grilling basket. I tear off a piece of foil, chop up large pieces of veggies, toss some olive oil/salt/pepper/garlic powder on them and fold up the foil. I recommend using two sheets to make sure it doesn't leak. Poke some holes in the top and throw it on the grill. Bada-bing. Bada-boom.

3. Roast 'em. Another easy way to serve up veggies is to roast them in the oven. Line a cookie sheet with foil for easy clean up. Then chop up large chunks of veggies, toss them in olive oil, add some seasoning and throw them in the oven until the soften up. Kind of sounds like grilling 'em, huh?

4. Saute 'em. OK, pretty much the same thing as above just in a pan on the stove.

5. Drink 'em. I'm not a juicer (probably because I don't own a juicer), but that would be an easy way to use up produce. In our house, we make smoothies. My favorite one to make right now is a kefir smoothie so that we're getting those probiotics in our system. Add one cup of blueberry kefir, one cup of frozen strawberries and one banana to the blender and blend until smooth. Yum!

6. Freeze 'em. I'm notorious for freezing bananas that are on their last leg. There are probably seven of them hanging out in the freezer right now (they make awesome banana bread). Fruit is easy to freeze, but I don't have a lot of experience freezing vegetables. Like, frozen bell peppers? I just don't know. I know the grocery store sells frozen stir fry mixes with bell peppers so it would probably freeze well. I DO know that things like spinach and basil do NOT freeze well. You'd be better off throwing them in a green smoothie.

7. Dehydrate 'em. Cut up your produce and throw it in a food dehydrator. You can make fruit roll ups, fruit candies or even granola. And, believe it or not, there are recipes out there for dehydrated veggies.

8. Put 'em in a gap meal. I have a couple of "fill-in-the-gap" meals in my back pocket. These are meals I can pull out if I need to use up a lot of produce so it doesn't go bad. Right now, my two favorites are homemade pizza and pasta salad. Mainly because you can put almost anything on it or in it and it tastes great. Check out the links below.

It can be expensive to eat healthy, especially if you're buying organic produce, so hopefully these ideas will help you get the most bang for your buck. Don't let your food go to waste in your produce drawer in the fridge!

Anyone want to share a trick you use to get the most out of your produce?


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