Learning how to be prepared and how to take care of your produce will not only save time but money. The sooner you get used to shopping for raw staples, the easier sticking to a raw diet becomes. Keep in mind that fresh, living foods naturally perish more quickly than cooked or processed ones, so shop for produce often and conservatively to avoid spoilage.
Produce Raw Food Weekly Staples…
- Shop at least once a week for fresh produce if possible.
- Aim to buy organics if available and affordable.
- Price compare ingredients you use frequently. Check your local co-ops, grocery stores, Costco, farmer’s markets.
- Create a master list according to the store (s) you shop at.
- Side note; Don’t be afraid of frozen food. Good quality, organic frozen veggies are a cost saving alternative when you can’t shop seasonally. Do the best you can with what is presented to you.
- Handle with Care. It’s always best to eat any kind of produce as quickly as possible after purchasing as flavors and nutrients start to degrade the moment something is picked.
Basic Ideas on how to use your produce (but not limited to):
- Avocados – Use it alone, in salads, also used for chocolate pudding and in smoothies to make them extra creamy and nutritional.
- Apples – Great for snacking, slice up in salads and juicing.
- Arugula, leafy greens – A salad favorite.
- Bananas – Eat for a snack, freeze and use in smoothies or blend for a soft serve ice cream!
- Greens – Kale, Chard, Collard Greens, fresh herbs – used mainly for juicing and sometimes salads.
- Carrots – Juice them and use the pulp to make cookies / breads! Shred into salads, and use for snacking.
- Ginger – This is a wonderful flavor for dressings and a nice touch in juices.
- Berries – Used in smoothies, salads, jams and desserts and for just general snacking.
- Hot Peppers – Have jalapeño, serranos, Thai and other chiles or peppers on hand to chop up for salads or add to the blender for spicy dressings.
Food Prep Ideas:
- Morning smoothie idea:
- Purchase green produce bags. Have at least 7 on hand for this idea.
- On Sunday prepare 7 smoothie bags; one for each day.
- In each bag place as many fruits and veggies you want to use in each morning smoothie. So for example; Monday – 3 cups of spinach, 2 carrots, 1 apple. Tuesday: 3 cups of kale, 1 cucumber, 1 apple. These are just to give you the ideas. You can add dry goods to the smoothie later, such as protein powders, sweeteners, etc (if desired).
- Come morning, open the fridge and pull out your smoothie goodie bag. Blend, serve and enjoy!
2. Pre-made salad bowl: ( I do this all the time, huge time saver )
- Take a variety of veggies; cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, radishes, etc. and process them through your shredding blade in your food processor.
- Pour into a large bowl with a lid or a large green produce storage bag. Place in fridge.
- Each day for one or as many of your meals as desired, line your plate with leafy greens and scoop out a few handfuls of your pre-cut veggies. Top with a dressing and eat!
Know your fridge!
- COLD ZONE – The ‘cold zone’ is the coldest spot in the refrigerator, and is on the bottom shelves.
- MODERATE ZONE – The ‘moderate zone’ is the middle shelves, toward the front.
- HUMID ZONE – The ‘humid zone’ is the crisper drawer, which is used to keep a humid environment that helps keep produce with high water content fresher though can hasten spoilage if the humidity gets too high.
- “WARM” ZONE – The shelves on the door is the warmest area of your refrigerator.
- Do not put too much food in the refrigerator. If it is loaded to the point that there is no space between the items, air cannot circulate and this affects the temperature distribution.
Which vegetables should be stored where:
- BEST in the FRONT of the FRIDGE: corn (after wrapping in a wet paper bag placed inside a plastic bag) and peas
- BEST in the CRISPER: artichokes, asparagus (after trimming the ends and placing upright in shallow cool water, then covering with plastic), beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh herbs, green beans, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce (after washing and drying, rolling loosely in a clean kitchen towel inside an unzipped zip-lock bag), mushrooms, peppers, radishes, scallions, summer squash, turnips, zucchini
- BEST on the COUNTER: tomatoes (stored upside down), bananas, lemons, limes
- BEST in the PANTRY (where it’s both dark and cool): garlic, onions, potatoes, shallots, sweet potatoes, winter squash
Produce Life Shelf (approx.)
- Artichokes: Use within two to three days of purchase.
- Asparagus: Should be stored in the refrigerator with a moist paper towel around the stems or can be stood up in a glass of cold water with a damp paper towel wrapped around the tops to keep them crisp. They’ll still only be at their peak for a day or two.
- Bell peppers: Up to two weeks.
- Broccoli and cauliflower: Consume within a week.
- Cabbage: Keeps for one to two weeks.
- Carrots: Stays good for several weeks.
- Celery: Keeps for one to two weeks.
- Corn: Use the same day of purchase.
- Cucumbers and eggplant: Keep for one week in the cold crisper drawer.
- Eggplant: goes bad quickly and should be used within a couple of days of purchase and stored in a cool area.
- Garlic: Garlic lasts longer in the refrigerator, so if you don’t use it often, keep it chilled.
- Green beans: Within three to four days of purchase.
- Leaf greens (beet tops, collards, kale, mustard greens, and so on): The wide variety of pre-washed lettuces can be a great timesaver for washing and storage. Always dry greens very well with paper or kitchen towels or a salad spinner and store them in a plastic bag with a couple of paper towels. Consume within one to two days.
- Mushrooms: Store in a brown paper bag in the fridge and wash right before using. Use within a week.
- Salad greens: Rinse thoroughly, trim, and dry completely before storing wrapped in paper towel or in plastic bags in the crisper drawer. Keeps for three to four days.
- Spinach: Trim, rinse, and dry thoroughly before storing for two to three days.
- Summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash): Store for up to a week.
- Tomatoes: can be very finicky ? they should be stored unwashed and always at room temperature. Any refrigeration will give them an unpleasant mealy texture and will kill the flavor and aroma.
Onions, potatoes, shallots, and hard-shelled winter squash don’t need refrigeration. They stay good for several weeks to a month when you store them in a cool, dry, dark drawer or bin.
Fruit Shelf Life (approx.) and how to Store Fresh Fruits
Most fresh fruits are quite perishable and require refrigeration. You can leave some fruits out to ripen, but when they’re ripe, they last longer in the fridge. Here are some suggestions on storing fresh fruits:
- Apples: Refrigerate or store in a cool, dark place. Keep for several weeks.
- Avocados, papayas, kiwis, and mangoes: Keep at room temperature until fully ripened and then refrigerate them to keep for several more days.
- Bananas: Refrigerate to slow down their ripening. Their peel continues to darken, but not their flesh.
- Cherries and berries: Keep refrigerated. For best flavor, consume them the same day you purchase them.
- Citrus fruits (such as lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges): Citrus fruits, which don’t ripen further after they’re picked and are relatively long-storage fruits, keep for up to three weeks in the fridge.
- Grapes: Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Mangos: can be ripened at room temperature in a brown bag until they give a bit in the palm of your hand and should then be refrigerated. Because the sugar is concentrated at the base of a pineapple, you can store them upside down for a day or two at room temperature or in the fridge to allow the sweetness to spread throughout the fruit.
- Melons: Keep at room temperature so that they can ripen and grow sweeter. After they’re fully ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for several more days.
- Nectarines: Keep at room temperature so that they can ripen and grow sweeter. After they’re fully ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for several more days.
- Pears can be ripened at room temperature in a brown bag until they give a bit in the palm of your hand and should then be refrigerated.
- Peaches can be ripened at room temperature in a brown bag until they give a bit in the palm of your hand and should then be refrigerated.
- Pineapple: Because the sugar is concentrated at the base of a pineapple, you can store them upside down for a day or two at room temperature or in the fridge to allow the sweetness to spread throughout the fruit.
- Plums can be ripened at room temperature in a brown bag until they give a bit in the palm of your hand and should then be refrigerated.
- Tomatoes: (Yes, this is technically a fruit!) Store at room temperature for more flavor. Keep in a cool, dark place or in a paper bag to ripen fully.