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Maximizing Food Shopping & Food Planning Tips

Cheese Board Lunch - Photo

Clean out the fridge Lunch!  We are through our second week of groceries and I am trying to maximize what we have before we shop again.  I was also not in the mood to make 5 lunches and this was an easy way to set out lunch and have everyone make their own!  With all of us maximizing food shopping orders and trying to keep food fresh at this time, I wanted to share my observations and tips with you in hope to make your planning and shopping easier. Included below are tips on which fruits and vegetables go bad first and which ones last the longest and how I maximize them.

General Tips for Maximizing Food Shopping:

  • Make sure to plan to use what is likely to go bad at the beginning of the first week, and then use the other fruits and vegetables the second week.
  • **** Key for vegetables especially is keeping moisture out and storing well! Wrap them in a paper towel and then put in container or plastic bag.  I wash out and reuse the plastic bags and use the paper towels for spills.
  • Keep an eye on everything
    • If a fruit looks like it may go bad in 1-2 days and you have excess – freeze it for smoothies
    • If a vegetable looks like it may not last much longer – roast it, let it cool, and store it.   Then, you can use it in a dish later in the week or the next week.  Roasted vegetables reheat well!
  • As you get to the end of the second week or the beginning of the third week, move to frozen fruits and veggies.  We love smoothies in the morning and for vegetables frozen broccoli, peas, and corn are our favorites.
  • Also, I feel that we are in a pandemic,  and if they only have applesauce one day they will be ok.  Flexibility can be key these days! (We actually have not had to do that yet :). )

Fruits

I am lucky that my children will eat enough variety that this has been working for us.

As back-ups, I have applesauce squeezes and freeze dried apples and bananas.

Longest Lasting:

Apples last crazy long – 3-4 weeks, so we stock up on those.  I leave a bunch in fridge and take them out slowly.

Citrus – we are not a huge citrus family, but a few of us like clementines and they have lasted us 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

Pears – we are not a big pear family either, so we have not utilized this one, but if you keep them in the fridge and slowly take them out to eat, they will last 2 weeks.

Next: 

Grapes – depends on the season and ones you get, but for the most part they have been lasting almost 2 weeks.

Melons – I buy whole and then wait to cut.  Store them in a cool place (garage), or in fridge to extend the life.  I then only cut about a 1/4 at a time, so they don’t sit in their juices (this is what causes them to go bad fast).  It creates for a little more work but I have found it worth it.

Pineapple – same as melon

Bananas – if picking yourself, I like to get some ripe and some green so last 2 weeks, but most of us are getting our groceries delivered, so it is hard to plan for that.  If they go fast, I freeze for smoothies and we get our morning fruit that way 🙂

Go the Fastest:

Berries – we eat them first (I have found if you let them fully dry after washing it helps a little)

Vegetables:

**** See Key tip above about wrapping in paper towels and keeping moisture out!

Longest Lasting:

Onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes (acorn, butternut etc..) – can last 3-4 weeks

Carrots – my children LOVE carrots so we have had a ton of these. I have been buying whole carrots instead of small ones, and have found they last longer.  I am going to test drying out baby carrots and storing with the paper towel.

Next: 

Greens – same as above tip – let them fully dry after you have washed them, and then wrap them in a paper towel and store them in an airtight bag or container.  Mine have lasted 2 full weeks this way.

Cucumbers – have been hit or miss on lasting 2 weeks – the English cucumbers have been lasting longer.

Brussel Sprouts – they have been lasting longer than cauliflower and broccoli, so I have been using them last.

them out to ripen

Tomatoes – same as the avocados, they last me 1.5 – 2 weeks, by keeping them in the fridge and slowly taking them out

Avocados – fruit/vegetable have been lasting me 2 weeks, by keeping them in the fridge and slowly taking

Go the Fastest:

Broccoli and Cauliflower – only last me a few days but we love these frozen too so I tend to use them first and then have them again in the frozen form when we are out of vegetables

Peppers  – only last about 1.5 weeks.

Asparagus – tends to go fast, so it is usually first on my list to make.  I have been cooking double at a time, and then using the leftovers for a part of another dish (such as a quiche or part of a grain bowl).

Zucchini/summer squash/eggplant – last about week, so I use them towards the end of the first week.

 

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