Healthy Food For All

Preventing Food Waste through Produce Planning and Proper Storage

It is estimated that 40-50% of food waste comes from root crops, fruits, and vegetables. Sometimes, we may get a bit too ambitious with how much produce we buy when grocery shopping. Many of us have experienced that walk of shame from the refrigerator to the garbage can with a bag of unused produce in hand. Planning meals for the week and understanding serving sizes can help us to shop smarter. Proper storage can help prevent your produce from going bad before you can use it. Check out some tips for cutting down on food waste below!


Planning and Serving Sizes


Planning your meals for the week can help make shopping trips more efficient. If planning every meal feels overwhelming, just start with week night dinners. Take a look at your schedule for the week and plan meals that are easy for you to fit in. The next step is understanding serving sizes for your produce so that you do not overbuy. Examples of serving sizes for different fruits and vegetables are listed below:


Vegetables

  • Asparagus: 5 medium stalks or about the size of a dollar bill lined up
  • Broccoli: 1 cup or 1 medium stalk about the size of a hairbrush 
  • Brussel sprouts: 5 large brussel sprouts or about the size of 5 eggs
  • Carrot: 7 inch carrot or about the size of a fork
  • Cauliflower: 1/6 of a medium head or about the size of a baseball 
  • Celery: 2 medium stalks or 2 stalks about the size of a comb
  • Leafy greens: 2 loosely packed cups or about 2 large double handfuls 

Fruit

  • Bananas: 1 medium banana - about 8 inches
  • Strawberries: 8 medium strawberries
  • Plums: 2 medium plums
  • Grapes: ¾ cup
  • Dried fruits: ½ cup
  • Apples: 1 large apple
  • Peaches: 1 medium peach
  • Tomatoes: 1 medium tomato

Source: FDA Food Labeling & Nutrition


For each meal, determine how many servings of each fruit/vegetable you will need based on how many people you are cooking for. You can keep shopping simpler by incorporating the same fruit or vegetable into several meals. Here is an example of what your meal plan could look like:




 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Number of People

4

4

4

4

4

Meal

Spaghetti

Salmon

Steak

Fettucine alfredo

Chili

Vegetable side(s)

Green beans

Asparagus and kale

Asparagus and potatoes

Brussel sprouts

Carrots

# of produce servings needed

4

8

8

4

4



Storing Fruits and Vegetables

The way we store our produce affects how long it will last. Some storage tips for different fruits and vegetables will be listed below. 

Vegetables

  • Broccoli & cauliflower: store in refrigerator away from other produce
  • Celery, corn, green beans, leafy green vegetables, carrots, beets, mushrooms, and radishes: store in refrigerator and only wash right before use
  • Cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers: store at room temperature
  • Garlic and onion: store in cool, dark, and dry space away from other produce
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes: store in cool, dark, and dry space

Fruits

  • Apples: store at room temperature away from other produce
  • Avocados: let ripen at room temperature then store in the refrigerator
  • Bananas: store at room temperature on a banana hanger
  • Berries: store in the refrigerator in a dry, covered container; only wash right before use
  • Cherries and grapes: store in the refrigerator; only wash right before use
  • Citrus fruits: store in crisper drawer
  • Nectarines, peaches, and plums: ripen in a paper bag then move to the refrigerator
  • Tomatoes: store in a bowl at room temperature away from the sun or heat

Written by: Madison Pongon

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