Trying to get by as long as you can until your next shopping trip? Here are some tips on how to make produce last as long as possible!
How To Make Produce Last When You Only Shop Once a Month
We try and keep our grocery shopping to a minimum and only shop once a month. This gives us the opportunity to buy many of our foods at a lower price (since we will generally buy in bulk), plus it helps stop any impulse shopping at the very expensive local grocery store.
But one question that we get quite frequently is, “How do you make your fresh produce last if you only shop once a month?”. I’ll be honest…that is a tough one! But I have some tips for you on how we make it work if you are looking to shop once a month as well. Of course, make sure to share your tips in the comments section!
1. Have a garden all year round.
Of course, it’s easy to pull fresh produce from your garden in the summer to supplement your meals but you can do this in the winter as well! Plant a few “bush style” veggies (like beans, lettuce, etc) in flower pots or other containers in your house. Keep them warm and make sure they get plenty of sunlight and water and they will reward you will yummy fresh veggies even on the coldest of days!
You could also build an inexpensive cold frame to be able to extend your growing season. Here’s how we built a mini greenhouse for free.
2. Use a produce eating pattern.
You know that carrots will last a long time in the fridge while lettuce tends to go bad quickly. And of course, apples can last for months when stored at a cooler temp while peaches will go bad not long after they ripen. Use these trends to make your meal plan!
If you know that you will be able to get lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, apples, cabbage, and oranges on your next grocery shopping trip, make sure to plan meals with the lettuce and tomatoes first, cabbage and oranges sometimes in the middle, and apples and carrots towards the end of the month.
Here’s a quick list of the longest-lasting fruits and veggies:
3. Add in frozen produce.
Sometimes it isn’t always possible to get fresh produce to last until the end of the month. This is when we like to add more frozen produce into our diet.
Frozen produce not only lasts a long time, but it was also usually picked at peak ripeness so it contains a great deal of the original nutrients, and it’s inexpensive! I love to buy my frozen produce at Costco where I can get 5lbs of peas, broccoli, corn, and more for around $5-$8…for organic!
–Here are my favorite Frugal Vegetables to buy!
4. Keep your produce well.
If you practice good root cellaring techniques and keep your produce drawer clean and rotated food will last longer. One rotten apple will spoil the whole bunch quickly! We make sure to store our longer-lasting produce (winter squash, apples, carrots, onions, potatoes, etc) in root cellar like conditions to keep them lasting as long as possible.
5. Follow these quick tips for making produce last longer.
Here are a few shorter, random, but helpful tips!
- Don’t wash berries until ready to eat them otherwise they spoil quickly.
- Try rinsing certain fruits in a vinegar solution. I’ve heard others use this tip but I haven’t personally tried it.
- Dice and fresh herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays. I’ve done this and it works well!
- Store fresh herbs in a glass with a small amount of water in it.
- Place paper towels in between layers of lettuce. We always do this with our fresh garden lettuce to keep it fresh longer!
- If produce is going bad faster than you can use it, stick it in the freezer to use later.
- You can always make jam!
And of course, we try to let nothing go to waste at our home, so anything that we didn’t eat quick enough before it spoiled or got mushy heads straight to my piggy slop pail or for the chickens to munch on.
Using these techniques we can usually keep our produce buying to once a month along with the rest of our groceries. Of course, if we happen to be in a town near the grocery store and have money left in our grocery budget for the month we will grab a few extras as well to keep our diet fresh and interesting!
Make sure to check out all of our articles on Buying in Bulk for even more tips on this topic.
What are some of your best tips for making produce last a long time?
This blog post on how to make produce last was originally published on Little House Living in February 2015. It has been updated as of March 2020.