Decrease Food Waste: Produce Shelf-Life Cheat Sheet

My weekly produce hull, be it from the store, the farmers market, or my CSA can be both exciting and daunting. Let’s be honest, we all WANT to eat each and every fruit and vegetable we have but there are times that I can’t use all of them before they start to wilt. There had to be a better way. I decided to pay closer attention to the shelf life of each item. I used the produce with the shortest shelf life first and it helped to cut down on my food waste. This was particularly helpful when it came to my CSA share. Knowing how long a vegetable or fruit will last really helped my meal planning process become more efficient.

Think of it like this, produce that lasts 3-5 days like tomatoes and some greens should be eaten first; other items like carrots and turnips can be used later on as they have a longer shelf life and won’t spoil as quickly. Using the chart below will help you plan your meals and cut down on food waste – win win!

Use the items with the shortest shelf life first.

3-5 Day Shelf Life
7-10 Day Shelf Life
14+ Day Shelf Life
Asparagus Kale Artichokes Green Beans Apples Leeks
Avocados Okra Onions (cut) Arugula Leeks Artichokes Onions (whole)
Basil Peaches Bell Peppers Lettuces/Mixed Greens Beets Parsnips
Beans (wax, green) Pears Broccoli Mint Cabbage (Red and Green) Potatoes (large)
Berries Peppers Brussels Sprouts Mushrooms Carrots Rosemary
Bok Choy Chives Radicchio Cabbage (Napa) Potatoes (baby( Celery Rutabagas
Chard (Swiss) Snow Peas Cauliflower Radishes Ginger Sweet Potatoes
Chives Spinach Cucumbers Summer Squash Lemons Turnips
Eggplant Tomatoes Eggplant Winter Squash (cut) Limes Winter Squash (whole)

By: Katie Cavuto, RD, Chef

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