When it comes to saving money, one of the first places many households can save is the grocery budget. However, if you find that you are constantly throwing out your produce because you haven’t used it quickly, you are practically throwing money into the trashcan. If you have some produce that is starting to turn but has not yet spoiled, there are some easy ways you can save it instead of throwing it out.
One great way to save some of your produce is to freeze it. Many fruits and vegetables will freeze very well with a little preparation. Depending on the type of produce you are freezing, you will need to peel and chop your produce and place it into freezer bags. When you are ready to use the produce, you can defrost it and use it in recipes. Not all frozen produce will have the same texture as when it was fresh, but it will taste fine when added into recipes that you intend to cook.
The following are some examples of produce is easily frozen and reused at a later date.
- Apples — Peel and chop them before freezing. They can be used for applesauce, apple pie, apple crisp, and so on.
- Bananas — Peel them and slice into large chunks. You can use these in banana bread and smoothies.
- Oranges — Peel them and separate the segments. You can then cook them down into jam, sauce, or add them to smoothies.
- Carrots — Peel and shred or slice into disks. Make carrot cake, use them as a side dish or place them in casseroles.
- Green Beans — Blanche them in boiling water for one minute then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. You can steam them for a side dish.
- Onions — Dice them and place them into a freezer bag. Use them to season different recipes.
- Corn — Blanche it in boiling water for one minute then plunge them into ice water. Freeze it on the cob or slice it off the cob into freezer bags. Cook as if you would when fresh.
- Zucchini — Shred it and use in sweet breads, sauces, and casseroles.
While you can freeze a variety of produce, there are some items that do not freeze well, including the following:
Another great way to use up produce is to make a pot of soup. When cooked together, vegetables combined with spices, meat of your choosing, and some stock will taste amazing. To make a quick and easy vegetable soup, combine any vegetables you have leftover into a pot with some chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, some tomato paste, salt, pepper, and some pasta if you like. Boil it for thirty minutes and serve it with some crusty bread or grilled cheese. If you have a lot of produce to use up, make a large batch of soup and freeze it for use on another night.
Cook for the Week
When you know you have a lot of produce to use up quickly, take an afternoon and prepare your meals for the week. If you have several heads of lettuce to use up, plan a salad night. Chop up the lettuce, dry it well and place in a storage bag with some paper towels. When you are ready to cook, put your lettuce into a salad bowl along with other vegetables, meats, pasta, and whatever else you like to make it a filling meal.
Make up several different recipes using your produce and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to cook them. Make a meatloaf with carrots, onions, zucchini and bell peppers. For another night, make a chicken potpie with leftover peas and carrots. You also can make a stir-fry with any vegetables you have on hand. Cook it up and store it for the week. You can cook these items and heat them up on the nights you plan to eat them. You also can freeze them uncooked if you don’t think you will be able to have them right away.