Everybody knows the feeling of going to the local grocery store, stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week, and then having to throw them out at the end of the week because you forgot to eat them. In our busy lives, it can be so easy to buy fresh produce with good intentions but get so caught up in the busy, fast-paced nature of the week that we forget to actually eat them. Not only are we missing out on their nutrition and losing money, but we are also being wasteful too.
Here are some quick, thoughtful tips to help you buy those veggies and keep them fresh too.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The only way to take control of the busy week ahead is to plan everything out as much as possible. When you have children running around, various household chores, a career, or other responsibilities, there is no other way to be on top of the craziness. Planning can include food use and grocery store trips.
First, make sure to itemize everything you need from the grocery store throughout the week before you go so you don’t forget anything essential. Additionally, don’t buy anything you don’t need from the grocery store that could end up being wasteful. Second, and probably most important, don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. We always end up buying unnecessary food, usually junk food, when this happens.
Finally, you can also plan out what you do with your food once you get back home, and this can make loads of difference in how much food, especially how much produce, you throw out at the end of the week. When you get home, make a list of all the fresh foods that can spoil, and consider what meals and snacks can be made throughout the week with these items before they go bad; this is called meal planning. Using this information plus the existing foods in your fridge and pantry, you can make a list of the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for each day of the week for everyone in your family. This can ensure that no food will go to waste.
Another way to meal plan is to cook in bulk on a day of your choosing. A good day for you could be on the weekend, especially Sunday before the craziness of the week begins. To do this, buy enough of a protein, grain, and vegetable for everyone in your family for multiple meals (like lunch Monday through Thursday) throughout the week. Then, on the day when you have enough time, cook or prepare all of these meals like you would a family feast. Because you bought and prepared in bulk, you are saving time and money, plus you have a ton of meals out of the way without the ingredients spoiling.
Whether or not meal planning works for your family, another food preservation pro tip is prepping ingredients. When you get home from the grocery store, don’t just throw all the food into the fridge or pantry. For your fresh produce, make sure to clean all of it by thoroughly washing it and drying it. Chop some of it up on the spot, like carrots, cucumbers, and celery. You can then store your ingredients in clear containers and leave them where you can see them in the fridge. Being able to see fresh ingredients and produce whenever you open the fridge means you’re more likely to use and eat them. More than that, if the ingredients have already been prepped, that is one less step for you to do in the middle of a crazy week.
Ensure Clean Air
In order to preserve your products in your home, you need to ensure the cleanliness of the environment, whether that be in your fridge or on the counter to be kept at room temperature. You can do this by regularly removing all the food from your refrigerator and cleaning it thoroughly, perhaps with bleach wipes. After all, you’re going to be eating what’s in there — you want it to have clean surroundings. For food on your counter, you want to ensure the air is clean throughout your home as well. You can do this by regularly changing your air filters or opening a window to let in the fresh air. By cultivating a clean environment, your products will last longer.
These are just a few tips to make the lives of busy mothers a little bit easier. By thoroughly planning ahead, prepping your ingredients, and ensuring clean air throughout your home, you will be able to eat the produce you buy and gain the nutrition you need without sacrificing money, time, or being wasteful.