|Some wonderful foraged produce I've |
been feeding my family. Free produce
between shopping trips.
How on earth do you manage to do such a thing, and still provide well rounded, nutritious meals for your family? What produce can your family eat if you haven't been to the grocer or even the corner store in 2, 3, or even 4 weeks?
I've been going 4 weeks without grocery shopping for the past 2 months. My family has definitely been having lots of produce. How?
Produce Consumption When Shopping Monthly
I'm a big produce gal. For me, a meal isn't a meal without veggies and fruit. Not only are they full of vitamins, they also add flavor and nutrition and fiber to your meal, lowering the amount of starches and proteins that you need to feel full. To be able to have enough produce to eat at every meal when you haven't been to the grocery store in a few weeks can be done by:
1) Saving hardier produce for later in the month
2) Eating preserved produce
3) Eating foraged foods
4) Growing your own.
What Veggies Last Longer?
The wetter a vegetable, the faster it will become no good. The more surface area has, the faster it will spoil. The thinner a vegetable, the faster it will it will go off. Cut vegetables spoil quickest of all, so buying uncut produce is best if you want your veggies to last long.
When buying veggies, I keep root veggies for last, finishing up my tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, and lettuce much faster. Those usually will spoil within a week or two. Peppers will last approximately two weeks, though towards the end, they start to get wrinkly, but are still fine cooked. Zucchini also will last two weeks or longer, but will get somewhat bitter and wrinkled and need to be peeled if you let it sit too long. Eggplant will last approximately 3 weeks, but will start going brown on the inside towards the end, but it's still good even when brown. Fennel will last close to three weeks. Cabbage will also last 3-4 weeks.
Potatoes, onions, carrots, kohlrabi, beets, turnips, and radishes will all last at least a month, though they will start to get a little wrinkly towards the end. When I'm nearing the end of the month and I'll need to go shopping sometime in the near future, root veggies are what feeds my family.
What Fruit Last Longer?
Grapes, melon, and strawberries (as well as other berries) are the quickest fruit to spoil. Bananas follow not long after. Stone fruit, such as plums, peaches, nectarines, and apricots, all can last somewhat longer, depending on how hard they are when you purchase them. Pears can last up to two weeks. Apples and citrus fruit last longest of all. I've had grapefruits sit in my refrigerator for 2 months and still be good.
When your supply of fresh produce is running short, time to take out your preserved foods! If, like myself, you preserved foods when they were in season and/or on sale, you should have a nice stock of frozen food, dehydrated foods, and canned foods. Alternatively, you can buy frozen or canned veggies and use them once your fresh produce runs out.
This really is my favorite method that I use to supplement method number one- saving hardier veggies for later. We eat foraged foods nearly every day. During the summer, I am able to get plenty of fruit, but in the winter months, there are wild greens growing everywhere here! In the past few days, I've served my families meals made with foraged milk thistle, mallow, broccoli raab, dwarf pomegranates, passion fruit, lemons, and wild fennel. There's more than enough wild edibles around here to supplement what veggies I have left from my last shopping trip.
Not only does foraged food cost me nothing, I also am getting much more nutritious food! Do you know just how healthy broccoli raab is? I've served that 5 days this past week already (together with other veggies, don't worry- I'm not a boring cook!) and that is the food that's the most jam packed with nutrition of any food I've ever eaten, I'm pretty sure.
Beans, seeds, and grains can almost all be sprouted, making them into a vegetable, and then cooked. (Most beans need cooking after sprouting- they're poisonous raw.) Some sprouts can be eaten raw in salads, like alfalfa sprouts, lentil sprouts, and mung bean sprouts.
What are we eating?
For the most part, at the moment we're eating the more perishable things in our fridge. We've still got plenty of cabbage, fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, onions, and potatoes left from our shopping trip. We've also got a bunch of citrus fruit. We supplement that with foraged greens and fruit (we're probably eating 50/50 foraged and store bought) and occasionally have some sprouts. As of now, we've had no need to touch our preserved stash.
Hrmm, no, I don't think my family is lacking on the produce front even though we're only going shopping every 4 weeks. I'd say we probably eat more produce than many people.
How often do you buy produce? What's the longest you think you'd be able to go without going produce shopping? What do you do to stretch the time between produce shopping trips?