(BPT) – If you love fresh produce, nothing’s worse than discovering food you bought just days ago is already going bad. That means changing your meal plan, plus wasting money and good food. Fortunately, you can reduce food waste with a little planning and know-how.
Here are five tips to help you enjoy your groceries longer.
1. Plan before shopping
Create menu plans each week, aiming to use produce with a shorter shelf life first. Chop and freeze some to ensure they’ll last longer. Many veggies like carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower and fruits like berries, grapes and mangoes can be prepped and frozen in zip-top bags to extend freshness and simplify meal prep.
Frustrated by lettuce going bad quickly? Mann Packing Co. Inc. offers washed and ready-to-use Better Burger Leaf®, Better Red Leaf®, Better Green Leaf® and Better Romaine® single-cut lettuces to enhance any sandwich, burger or wrap.
Some items last longer than others. For example, Del Monte® citrus fruits last up to two weeks in the fridge from date of purchase — making them ideal to enjoy now or later. To extend fruit further, juice into ice cube trays and freeze.
2. Choose pre-prepped veggies
When you’re busy, chopping veggies can seem too daunting, leading to costly choices like takeout or delivery. According to the Labor Department, restaurant prices have outpaced grocery prices since mid-2021.
Make it easier to use what’s in your fridge with Mann Packing’s Steakhouse Style veggies. Their pre-washed, cut and ready-to-cook Broccolini® baby broccoli, Caulilini® baby cauliflower and fresh asparagus can simplify family meals, so you can easily create home-cooked meals as good — or better — than what you’d get from a restaurant. You can also find tasty prepped veggies and easy-to-use veggie combos like Mann’s Family Favorites® Broccoli, Carrots & Snow Peas — perfect for making stir fry, salads or casseroles — and Mann’s Organic veggies, which are ready for snacking, salads or cooking in your favorite dishes.
3. Reduce produce waste
It’s common to end up throwing away fresh produce simply because it was stored incorrectly. Some veggies last longer than expected if stored properly. For example, Brussels sprouts can last in a refrigerated plastic bag up to 1 week. Wash and place with a damp paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer to maintain freshness.
To avoid waste, consider freezing some produce before it has a chance to go bad. For instance, peel then freeze fresh Del Monte® Bananas whole (for snacks), mashed (for baked goods) or sliced (for smoothies). Place sliced fruit in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets to avoid clumping. Once frozen, slices can be stored in plastic bags or containers.
While Pinkglow® Pineapples are harvested at the peak of ripeness and best eaten immediately, you can store a whole Pinkglow® pineapple in the refrigerator up to 2 days, or on the counter up to 3 days (not in direct sunlight) — or freeze up to 3 months. For the longest shelf life without freezing, place a whole Pinkglow® pineapple in your refrigerator 8-12 hours, then remove the top, bottom and shell and cut into spears or chunks. Place cut pieces in a sealed food storage container and refrigerate up to 7 days from date of purchase. Visit PinkglowPineapple.com for exciting pineapple recipe ideas.
Store Fresh Del Monte® Goodvocado® avocados correctly in a cool, dark place in a paper bag — or in the fridge 2-3 days. To refrigerate cut avocados, rub lemon or lime juice on exposed pulp to prevent discoloration.
4. Give new life to overripe produce
You may be able to use some overripened fruits and veggies. For example:
- Overripe avocados? Del Monte® Avocados can be used as a better-for-you swap for butter in baked goods. With Del Monte® Goodvocado® avocados, you’ll get an inclusive pack featuring a variety of avocado sizes, perfect for any occasion.
- Citrus fruit on its way out? Add zest to dressings, sauces, marinades or cocktails for extra zing. Only zest the colorful part of the rind, stopping at the white pith.
- Grape tomatoes seen better days? Toss with herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes until they blister.
Smoothies are another option for fresh fruits and vegetables beginning to turn — and a tasty way to sneak nutrient-rich produce into kids’ diets!
5. Add more produce to meals
Add nutrients to your favorite recipes by incorporating more fruits and veggies into every meal.
- Want to increase fiber and flavor? Add Mann’s Family Favorites® Rainbow Salad, Power Blend or Broccoli Slaw to pasta sauces, tacos or enchiladas.
- Can’t finish an entire melon? Whip up some Melon-Avocado Gazpacho. Not only do you get to try a new, delicious recipe, but you can freeze the rest for later.
- Unsure how to use a whole pineapple? Freeze pineapple cores. When making vegetable stock, add a frozen pineapple core to enhance flavor and create a nutrient-dense broth that, once strained, is perfect for Asian-inspired dishes.
- Seeking better-for-you swaps? Replace frozen French fries with fresh-cut sweet potato fries like Mann’s™ Better Fries. Sure to please even your pickiest eater, these sweet potato fries are pre-washed, cut and ready to throw in your oven or air fryer. Other great swaps your family will love are Mann’s™ Better Rice, made from cauliflower, and Mann’s™ Better Pasta — fresh veggies noodles made from sweet potatoes.