Grocery stores. More like money pits. I swear it feels like I spend our 401K every month on groceries. Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but food doesn’t come cheap! Especially when eating clean, which equates to endless amounts of produce. SO.MUCH.PRODUCE. After a grocery run, my refrigerator looks like a scene out of Veggie Tales.
One of the biggest money pitfalls is letting all that beautiful produce go to waste, i.e. fruit and veggies spoiling before they are consumed. Every piece of produce that is tossed is like throwing money away. My house isn’t a night club so making it rain with dolla’ bills isn’t an option. But I get it, when life gets busy it’s hard to take inventory of what’s in your fridge or plan to use every spinach leaf, apple, tomato, etc.
Prepare Produce for Consumption
One of my cardinal rules for making sure produce isn’t wasted is preparing it for consumption 1-2 days after I bring it home. What does this mean? Chopping fruits and veggies in to snack size portions and storing in clear containers. Heck, channel your inner Martha and add a pretty label if it helps. This is a surefire way to grab and go when on the run since it’s visibly available and ready to munch. I know, this is a ‘duh’ concept, but taking a few minutes to do such simple tasks is key. Because who grabs a whole head of broccoli to gnaw on before rushing out the door?
Use Everything You Have
Another tip for getting the most out of your produce is saving the ends and leaves of vegetables to make homemade bone broth or vegetable stock. I do this with celery leaves, outer onion peels, carrot ends, and the list goes on. If you want to go the extra mile, save the peel on citrus fruits and grate to incorporate the zest in to sweet recipes.
Are you reading this thinking, “too late, I already have mushy produce seconds away from rotting”? Don’t panic. Freeze almost expired fruits for smoothies, add sautéed leftover vegetables to morning scrambled eggs or whip out one of my favorite electrical devices if you have it (no, not your phone – pretty sure my dog has her own tablet for Pete’s sake) – the food dehydrator! Throw dwindling produce on the tray and dry it out, quadrupling the shelf life.
Saving Money on Fruits & Vegetables
Now that we have the bases covered for getting the most out of preserving and consuming, here are some additional tips on how save money on fruits and vegetables.
And hey, if all else fails, pamper yourself to a DIY facial. Those cucumber slices are good for something.
What are some simple ways you avoid food waste and save money on fresh produce?
Cynthia @craftoflaughter says
This is super great advice!!
Glad you think so! Thanks Cynthia 🙂
Karissa @ OCD Kitchen says
Great article! Super easy to read. I think the best tip you gave is to know what to do with close to spoiled produce. There’s no reason to throw that apple with the soft spots away, make apple butter. It’s something that’s hard to learn and accept, especially when grocery stores are throwing away food by the ton because none of us will touch a less than perfect peach. Hopefully you’re article will help!
Thanks Karissa! I totally agree. There is SO much you can do with fruits and veggies, even if they are nearing the end of their life or imperfect. I hate wasting food!
Sharon Mante says
This was the perfect post for me! I’m just getting into the Whole30 thing (as you know) and I’ve always had issues with my produce spoiling before I could use it. Such a waste! Thanks for the great tips!
Whoo hoo! So excited for your journey!
We just bought a dehydrator, so we have been drying a lot of stuff so that we have the snacks on hand but don’t have to worry about them going bad super quick!
Don’t you love your dehydrator?! I’m obsessed. My husband once said, “you know, you don’t have to dehydrate every.single.thing”. Umm yes, yes I do…
I like these tips! I’m pinning for later. Grocery Stores are full on money pits always!
Thanks Renee! I appreciate you stopping by and the re-pin. Ugh my grocery bill is always crazy. And my son isn’t even close to his teen years yet. Eek!
Great tips! If my produce is starting to go bad, I quickly prep it for freezing to use later!
Good call Leah! I’m just thankful I now have a large deep freezer in my garage!
Great tips Chrissa! Next purchase a food dehydrator! Keep the idea’s coming!!
A food dehydrator is awesome! I love making all sorts of creations and flaxseed crackers too!
Fruit and Veggies are soooooo expensive here ( Apples are $6 for a piece, Cantaloupe is $25 and Jalopenoes are $11 a lb.) I have become the master of freezing and repurposing fruits and veggies to cut costs and still get a healthy meal. I use many of these tips myself!
Oh my gosh – TRISHA! Where do you live, Mars?! I’m sure you have many, many tricks to get the most bang for your buck. WOW.
I know what you mean about spending a fortune at the grocery store. I feel the same way! Thanks for the tips, I especially love the idea to prep food and have it ready to go for a quick snack.
Hi Heidi – so glad these tips are helpful for you. I tried to grow a garden last summer to save on grocery costs and it failed miserably. Sigh. But hey, we try to do what we can, don’t we?!
Lily Nguyen says
Hi Chrissa! I think you nailed this post! Trying to figure out how to buy the perfect amount of groceries so that there is no waste is like a puzzle to me. I realized though your post, that my issue is that I never prep the veggies as soon as I go home. You’re right, once they are prepped they are way more likely to be used up. 🙂
Thank you Lily! It’s such a pain to prep sometimes but it definitely is the kicker for consumption. Thank you for stopping by!
I am definitely guilty of throwing away a lot of produce. =( I always tell myself I’m going to use it all up, but before I know it it’s dinnertime, and I just don’t feel like chopping that head of lettuce for salad. I need to keep up with prepping ahead of time! I buy a lot of bananas, and my dad sometimes gives me a TON from a church he works at, so I’ve gotten good at making muffins/pancakes/breads with them and then chopping the rest for smoothies later.
It always feels like the dinnertime hour is so crazy – so I don’t blame you for not wanting to prep and cut at that time of day! I love freezing ripe bananas. There is SO much you can do with them!
Great ideas! I work really hard at using up what I have and/or freezing things, but inevitably I end up wasting food. I recently posted a recipe for a frittata that uses up leftovers, so I’ve been doing a lot of that. But your tip about getting produce ready to consume/cook is the one I need to work on. I’m always so tired after grocery shopping and putting everything away, that I don’t feel like washing and chopping, but I really need to do it!
Such a great idea to use leftovers for a frittata! And a well-rounded breakfast option. I am totally with you – not wanting to prep right after I get home from grocery shopping. That’s why I usually do it the day after. Doesn’t feel like so much work! 😉
Liz Landers says
I’m so happy you posted this! I’m grocery shopping tomorrow and I’m awful about wasting produce! It’s just me so sometimes I have too much or forget to cook it all. I’m definitely going to try out the homemade broth idea. I use broth ALL the time so that would be perfect for me,
I’m so glad I could help! I think forgetfulness about what’s in the fridge is a huge culprit of produce going bad before it’s consumed. I will be posting a recipe for homemade stock and bone broth soon so stay tuned. Thanks for checking this out!
Buying in bulk is what I need to do!!! I never have!
Buying in bulk is a new thing for me too. But with a new Costco membership it’s kind of required 😉
What a great post and reminder! Meal planning really helps cycle the fruits and veggies into recipes so they get used before they spoil. I have to admit I wasn’t always so good about this but have gotten a lot better these past couple of years. Thanks for the tips! Pinned 🙂
Thanks for the pin! I think once you get in to a groove to use what you have on hand, it just becomes like second nature!
Great tips! We always end up with crazy science experiments in our refrigerator veggie drawer. We buy a bunch and then forget to eat it.
HA science experiments. Love it. My kitchen is one big science experiment so I totally can relate. Sometimes great things come from it, sometimes not so much. The veggie drawer should be like a dark cave – it’s so easy to forget what is in there!
Some great ideas here! I usually plan my meals around what I have in the house, I find we waste less that way 🙂
Hey Alyssa – you sound like a pro already! I totally do the same and try not to buy more food unless what I have is gone or planned for…
Julie | Small Green Kitchen says
Great tips, Chrissa! I have started freezing fruits and veggies that are starting to look less than stellar. I use the fruits in smoothie and the veggies for making vegetable broth!
Thanks Julie! I have so much almost spoiled fruit in my freezer for the same thing! Sure beats throwing it out!
Claire Falco says
This is great info! I try to keep our family healthy, but this seriously my downfall. I am going to put your tips to use so that I will stop wasting so much much on my produce.
Thanks Claire! I think it’s a challenge for everyone, especially those families that are buying lots of produce to eat clean and healthy. I appreciate you stopping by!
As someone who can never seem to get my produce shopping right, these tips are so helpful! Thanks for the advice! 🙂
It’s like a lost art form. HA. The delicate balance of buying enough, but not too much 🙂
This is a great list, Chrissa! It makes me crazy to throw produce away, but unfortunately it’s a constant battle. You are so right that it’s easier to make sure everything gets used up if you take the time to process it when it’s home from the store.
Thanks for the great tips, Chrissa! 🙂 I started freezing leftover veggies and fruit a couple of weeks ago and using them for my daily green smoothies. So far it worked out really well.