I’ve had a tough go of this month’s habit. Eating more fruits and vegetables is much harder than I thought, especially when I’m commuting all over for work and school, trying to finish up finals and searching for good ways to store and cook fresh vegetables. I’m no expert on food storage or preparation, but I’ve learned a few things along the way and some readers have suggested some great tips and tricks that I want to share with all of you.
Things We’ve Learned This Month
These are a few things we’ve learned about buying, preparing and eating fruits and vegetables. Some of these tips might not work for your area or situation, but I hope some of them will be useful:
- Buy fresh, local and often. We try to buy fresh, unpackaged (when/where possible) and local whenever possible. We also try to buy fresh produce for meals during the next 3-4 days, so we buy fresh produce twice a week.
- Find good snacking vegetables that last a long time. In order to eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the day, we try to keep long-lasting produce that’s perfect for snacking. Some of these include sliced bell peppers (if stored properly), apples, carrots, and others, depending on your personal taste.
- Don’t buy a lot unless you’re going to eat it. Although this is probably a good rule for anything in life, it’s especially true for fresh produce. We bought a big bunch of spinach (we have yet to find a store that sells loose-leaf spinach) for salads, omelettes and a few other recipes. Unfortunately spinach is one of those foods that doesn’t last and we threw a lot away. 🙁
- Freeze it if you can’t use it right away. I received this tip from a bunch of readers (thanks Joie and Alison!) and we’ve been trying to freeze a few things (we have a tiny freezer so we do what we can).
- Smoothies are awesome! Another reader, Karen, sent me a few great tips about making smoothies and juicing fruits and veggies. We love our Blendtec for fruit smoothies, but I’m still experimenting with Karen’s advice to add some vegetables. They’re actually not too bad. It looks weird until you blend it up, then it tastes amazing (just don’t add too much spinach or carrots!)
How to Keep Fresh Vegetables Fresh
There is probably some debate about how long certain fruits and vegetables last. I’ve found that some do better on the counter while others do better in the refrigerator. I don’t have enough time to go into every single vegetable and fruit, but here are some resources that provide general guidelines:
- Oh My Veggies – How Long Does It Last? A Printable Guide
- PopSugar – How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh
- American Heart Association – Keep Fruits & Vegetables Fresher Longer
There are probably a million other sites that have similar lists. I think these three are great. If you have specific questions about certain fruits or vegetables, I recommend a quick search for “how to keep ___ fresh”.
My wife and I have found this collapsible colander/storage container to be great for storing things like berries, lettuce, green beans, and tons of other stuff (we mostly use it for lettuce). We got this because it has more than just one use and it works great to keep things fresher longer. You can wash and store the vegetables in the same container. The container also provides some water and air circulation to keep the vegetables crisp and free of mold for longer. We found ours here, but I’m sure they can be found elsewhere online: Awesome Collapsible Colander/Container.
We’ve also used different types of Green Bags with varied results. If you’re interested in green bags, just do an online search to find more information or see where you can buy them.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. When you make small changes over time to supplement or replace meals/items with more fruits and vegetables it can have a huge impact over time. Eating real, healthy, vibrant fruits and vegetables will give you more energy, vitality and help you get sick less often. Be sure to gradually add more fruits and vegetables. Don’t go all in at once or you’ll hate it and lose motivation, not to mention your body will hate you. Transform your diet to include more fruits and vegetables over time and this healthy habit will be much more likely to stick around.