Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thought Provoking Thursday

Thought Provoking Thursday

Perishables... the really good stuff!!! During the Winter months, it is especially difficult to purchase higher quality produce since the majority of fresh goods must be trucked/shipped in from elsewhere around the globe. How can I feed my family well without breaking the bank?

It is easy to get stuck in the same purchasing routine for perishable items (by perishables, I mean fresh fruits & veggies). I easily fall prey to redundant purchases (sure, like you hadn't noticed!!!). I have learned to pay close attention to what my family will actually consume, not just what I would like them to consume, which actually saves me money in the long run!

Learn which quantities to purchase, and how to care for your families favorite produce! Purchasing more than your family will consume is simply tossing money in the trash!

Personally, I am addicted to eating a banana each morning! Since bananas are yummy, healthy and available all year round, I have done a bit of research to figure out how I can curb my spending and maximize my consumption!

I have learned that purchasing green banana's for my family is a disaster. First, they aren't ripe when I want to eat one, or I have ignored them for too long and they have become over-ripe or bruised- or worse, their length of stay on my counter has welcomed a colony of fruit flies... Did you know that green banana's are actually more expensive than the yellowed ones? Green banana's are heavier - which is weird, but true!

So instead of tossing a banana or two (or constantly making banana bread) I purchase what I think I will consume for the next 4-5 days. I'm happy to pop into the grocery store again later in the week to pick up some fresh produce- knowing that it will taste much better than something that has been sitting in my fruit bowl for a week- which makes my family much more likely to eat it!

Did you know:
-Romain lettuce is extremely healthy and can survive in your fridge from 7-10 days after purchasing.
-Tomatoes should NOT be refrigerated. Instead, purchase 'freckled' ones (yellowish freckles near where the vine had been attached) and place them in a windowsill.
If your celery has become wilty, trim the ends and place it in a cup of ice cold water- it should revive and crisp again.
-Potatoes prefer to be left in the dark. Hide them in a cupboard for the longest survival rate.

Self select vs. pre-bagged produce.

Is it worth individually selecting each fruit or veggie that goes into your cart. I'd say yes and no. I think that it depends on the type of produce!

If I were allowed to individually select each strawberry that goes into my clam shell container, I'd be so happy! But the truth is, the stores know that they can save money (and less food will be bruised/squished, fallen on the floor, spoiled or even taste tested...) by selling pre- determined allotments for specific prices. So...

Keep in mind the end product use of your produce when purchasing.

Baby carrots vs. carrot bunches.
Baby carrots are for instant snackability, while bunched carrots are most likely for slicing or shredding into something yummy like carrot cake! You'll save BIG money over the course of the year by doing the prep work yourself.

Often, apples can be purchased in bulk. Last week Meijer had three pound bags on sale for $1. Three pounds of hand picked apples would have cost upwards of $4. Now you have to be aware that the $1 bagged apples may have some bruising, but of your intent is to make make a dessert with the cut up apples- then save yourself some money.

All year long plan ahead for the sad produce days of Winter.

During the high producing Summer and Autumn months, I stock up on fruits and veggies. By washing, slicing and dicing them, I seal them well enough to hibernate in my freezer for a couple of months! Pulling diced red, yellow, orange and green peppers from my freezer feels a lot better than paying $3 for a single pepper. *Keep and eye out for the occasional great produce deal over these next few cold months- and plan ahead until next Spring!

When planning ahead for my bulk fresh produce purchases, I use a method called Flash Freezing. Flash Freezing involves placing your prepared fresh fruits or vegetables in a single layer on a cookie sheet (you can line the sheet with waxed paper if you'd like) and freezing for a few hours. Then, once your items have frozen individually, you place them in a freezer safe container for later use. Flash Freezing allows you to grab the perfect size amount that you need without thawing the entire package. With last weeks great apple deal, I prepped 4 batched of apples for Apple Crisp. Now I have quick and inexpensive access to sliced and diced apples right when I want them!

So, for now, I'll continue to pick a single bunch of grapes over feeling the need to purchase the whole bag... I'm not sure that I'm ready to learn how to make raisins... and isn't more sunshine necessary for that?

How do YOU maximize your produce purchases?

7 comments:

Becky C

Laura,
I have so appreciated your tips about the reduced produce cart at Meijer. I have bags and bags of strawberries in my freezer and numerous jars of strawberry jam in the cupboard, made with very ripe fruit that was available at an awesome discount.
Also, I used the amazing fall apple prices and "prepped" an apple pie. I sliced the apples, mixed them with the sugar, cinnamon, etc, and froze them in a pie plate lined with plastic wrap. When I am ready to bake a pie, I will prep my crust and place my pre-formed apple pie "filling" in it and be ready to bake.
Thanks for all the great tips!

Becky

Anonymous
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Ellen

I like your comment about buying what you KNOW your family will consume rather than what you WANT them to consume. Ugh! I find I throw out food & I hate that.

Laura Webber

Its a tough lesson to learn!

Sarah

With 2 children ages 9 and 13, I have no problems with wasted produce at my house. Our house rule is: If you feel like a snack, eat as much fruit or veggies as you want. Every other snack food requires mom's permission.

柯云

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