One of the biggest ways you can waste money is to let produce go bad before you use it. This often happens when we buy too much of something, get too busy to use it as intended or even forget about it in our fridge. It is almost maddening to open the fridge and see produce you now have to toss in the garbage because it has gone bad. Here are some tips for using up produce when you know you won’t be able to use it up in time for what you bought it for instead of tossing it in the garbage.
Tips for Using up Produce Before it Goes Bad:
Use your freezer.
If you have onions or peppers that are turning over-ripe, dice them and place them in zipper bags in the freezer. The freezer will stop the ripening process and it will allow you to use the vegetables for things like omelets, casseroles and slow cooker meals in the future.
Get Creative with bananas.
Pretty much everyone knows that over ripe bananas are perfect for banana bread, but you can also use them for pancakes or for thickening up milkshakes. Just cut the bananas into chunks and flash freeze by placing on a cookie sheet for a few hours and then storing in plastic freezer bags.
Start a compost pile.
If you have scraps from vegetables or fruit or you have some produce that is totally unsalvageable, this is the perfect start of a compost pile. Composting is great for gardeners as well as just fertilizing bushes, trees and even your lawn.
Over-ripe produce is perfect for soups.
No one will know the difference. Soups are historically known for being created out of need to use leftovers. In fact, some of the best soups ever made were made up just from what people have at home needing to be used up.
Fruit that is starting to go bad or is bruised can be used for pies, tarts, sauces and compotes.
Simply throwing some apples in a small slow cooker with some seasonings is all it takes to make a delicious applesauce.
If you are a big fan of smoothies, don’t go out and buy expensive frozen fruit for them.
Instead, look for ways to turn discounted produce at the store and fruit like bananas, berries and pineapple that you have at home into smoothie-ready chunks in your freezer.
Don’t assume that because part of the fruit or veggie is bad, all of it is.
With some fruits like berries, this is usually true, but with many, it isn’t, and you can use part of the vegetable or fruit with no problem. We are so used to buying produce that isn’t blemished or bruised that we think one that is, is no good any more.
Make Homemade baby food.
If you have a baby who is on solids, produce that is starting to turn (but is not moldy) or is bruised is perfect to make baby food with. Just stick it in a food processor and you have homemade baby food ready to go.
One way to avoid having produce waste is to only buy it as you need it or shop organic or local. While it may seem more expensive this way, it actually saves you a lot of money if you are the type that throws out produce frequently because it will have a longer shelf life in general.
Want more tricks? See these 11 ways to reduce food waste at home.