How I Salvage Produce That’s Past Its Primeposted by Andrea | 10/27/2015
Whenever I walk into the grocery store, the very first place I go is to the discount produce racks. Sometimes, they are completely empty, but most of the time they are FILLED with produce that is just a day or so past the store’s sell-by date.
This produce is most certainly still edible… and it’s usually 50% – 75% off regular price produce.
Some examples of deals I’ve gotten lately:
- strawberries for $0.30 – $0.50 per pound
- bags of multicolored peppers for $1 per bag (usually with 4-6 peppers per bag)
- 10-lb. bag of potatoes for $0.89
- blueberries and raspberries for $0.20 per pint
- bananas for $0.25 per pound
- broccoli and cauliflower for $0.49 per head
And this time of year, I’ve also seen discounted “seconds” (produce that might have a few bruises or be mis-shaped, small, etc.) at orchards and other farmer’s markets for drastically reduced prices.
I save SO much money buying discounted produce, and none of it ever goes to waste. We eat as much as we can fresh, and then I “salvage” the rest.
Here are a few ways I salvage produce that’s a little past its prime…
We have bags of discounted berries in our freezer (all washed, sliced, and ready to go). We use blueberries for pancakes and our favorite blueberry muffins, strawberries for pie or shortcake, and a variety of berries for smoothies all year long!
I also freeze chopped rhubarb and cherries in 2-cup containers for breads, muffins, and jam.
This way, I can simply defrost one container (or bag) of 4 and I don’t need to touch them once they defrost and are all slimy and black!
Also, did you know that you can extend the shelf-life of your bananas by wrapping the stems in plastic wrap??
I use my apple, slicer, peeler, corer to peel and thinly slice apples that are getting just a bit old — and then I put them in bags in the freezer. I use them for apple bread, apple cake, smoothies, etc.
I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for peppers in my entire life — they are SO expensive!
We’ve enjoyed peppers from our garden all summer, but since our garden is done for the year, I’ve been scouting out deals at the grocery store again. Just last week, I got 10 huge peppers (yellow, orange, green, and red) for a grand total of $2.10. They were all still nice and crunchy and we ate 4 of them on salads or raw all last week.
I chopped up the other 6 and put them in a large freezer bag. Now I can simply grab out a handful for omelets, casseroles, soups, or stir-fry. I mix all the colors together, but you could separate them out if you want.
Carrots, Onions, and Celery:
I know none of these vegetables are expensive, but I still hate to waste them. So if I see that my carrots, onions, or celery is starting to look a little “old”, I quickly chop up whatever is left in my refrigerator and put them in gallon freezer bags. I lay the bags flat so I can easily break off whatever I need for soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
This saves me SOOOO much time later on because I can just grab a handful of chopped veggies from the freezer and keep going with my recipe.
Oh, and this is a great recipe for roasted carrots that I’ll often make if I find a great deal on discounted carrots.
Our kids LOVE broccoli — so whenever I find a great deal, I usually just cook it up for dinner that night or use it to make brocoslaw.
Also, if you’re looking for an idea to salvage your broccoli stems, here are a few we use
I don’t normally freeze potatoes in soups because I haven’t had the best luck with that. However, I DO chop and shred my own potatoes and freeze them for my yummy cheesy hashbrown potatoes or fried potatoes.
I don’t do this very often because potatoes have such a long shelf life, but there have been a few occasions when I’ve salvaged the last of my potatoes by tossing them in the freezer!
Zucchini and Squash:
I’ve been freezing zucchini and squash for many years. I shred it all in my food processor and freeze it in 2-cup portions for breads, cakes, muffins, and my delicious “apple-less apple crisp”!
I grew a BUNCH of summer squash in our garden this year and roasted it all in the oven for about an hour, scooped out the insides, and put it into quart-size freezer bags. I’m planning to use some for various recipes (especially around Thanksgiving) and will use the rest to make baby food for James!
We eat lots of fresh spinach in our salads, but we have to buy very large bags of it, so it often starts to get a bit wilty before we finish a bag.
Of course, you can save almost any vegetable leftovers and use them to make delicious homemade vegetable broth for soups and stews.
As you can see, we rarely ever throw out any produce in our house. In my opinion, unless it’s moldy, there is probably some way I can salvage it — saving myself time and money!