Fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of Living, Remixed, but buying too much or storing them improperly can lead to subpar dishes, not to mention money in the trash…literally.

First and foremost, the best way to avoid wasting produce is to buy only what you need. Menu planning is your best defense against wasteful grocery purchases. If you need help getting started with your menu planning, check out What’s Cooking in the weekly In The Mix post. Every Friday, I offer new menu idea. You don’t have to follow it to a T. You can just use it as a guide.

The next thing you should do once you get your fresh treasures home is store them properly. Don’t keep your veggies in those horrid plastic bags you toted them home in. That’s a sure fire way to speed up the deterioration process.

Some vegetables are best stored in water, like celery, asparagus and lettuce. I like to rinse and cut celery, then store it in a container of water. This keeps the celery crisp and ready to eat at all times. The same goes for lettuce. You would be surprised how long romaine lettuce lasts in a bowl of cold water. Salad is ready for you whenever the mood strikes you.

2014-03-29 18.19.02As for asparagus, stand it up in a tall container or cup. Add just enough water to submerge the bottom inch or two of the stems. Leave vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini and cucumber loose in the crisper drawer.

Rinse fruit like grapes and strawberries and store them in pretty bowls on your fridge shelf or crisper drawer. Besides lasting longer, fruit in pretty containers will draw your attention to them instead of less healthy snack options.

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