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Friday, May 31, 2013

If I buy marked down produce, how will I keep it from spoiling?

The answer to that question is two-part.

1) I have a plan to use or freeze it right away (same day or within 2 days)

2) I understand how best to store it until it's consumed

I stopped in at the produce stand around the corner from my daughters' school yesterday. I needed fresh fruit for lunches, and mushrooms plus another veggie to add to stir-fry for dinner. I always check the markdown bins first. This is a completely open-air produce stand. They don't have refrigeration on site and produce needs to be sold promptly. Which means good fortune for bargain hunters, as they fill the markdown bins a couple of times per day. Woohoo!

Just look at these cantaloupes! Aren't they beautiful? They had a shopping cart full of cantaloupes marked at 25 to 50 cents each (I bought the 25-centers). These cantaloupes weighed in at about 1 & 1/3 pounds a piece, for a price per pound of around 18 cents. Found my fruit for lunches!

And as luck would have it, they had one bag (1/3 pound) of fresh mushrooms for 59 cents. Got that! And a good-sized bag (2 lbs) of cauliflower florets for 99 cents. Done with my shopping!

The cantaloupe was a great price. And I could have bought several more. But I decided to just buy what we could eat in about 3 days, which I guessed was 4 melons.

Melons this close to expiring need prompt attention. No leaving on the counter for a few days with these. Once home, I washed, sliced and trimmed the rind off the cantaloupes. As you can see, all this melon overfilled the bowl.

Some we had with dinner last night. I also cubed several slices for packing in today's lunches. The rest will keep nicely, covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. This cantaloupe will be our main fruit for the weekend, making part of weekend meal prep a bit easier.

With the mushrooms, as they don't like moisture, I spread them out on a tea towel, while waiting to slice and cook them. And I picked through the cauliflower florets, to use the oldest-looking pieces first in last night's stir-fry. The rest will be cooked and pureed as part of tonight's dinner (used as a topping for Shepherd's Pie  --  thanks Shara for the idea).

Yesterday's great finds at the produce stand will be history by the end of the weekend, with hopefully, no waste whatsoever!


  1. My family would get tired of all that cantaloupe before they finished it. Do you ever freeze it?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I only freeze it if we are nearing the end of the life of the melon. Then we add to smoothies or cold melon/cucumber soup.

      My mom used to freeze it every year, She's make a simple syrup and freeze honeydew and cantaloupe balls in the syrup. Then when we'd eat them, she would just barely thaw, so they were still frosty. Frozen, then totally thawed melon has an awful texture to me.

      My family will plow through the bowl of melon slices in no time. We've already eaten half of it! But you're right, if you think your family would grow weary of eating all the melon, then it would not be a deal after all. Waste is never a bargain.

  2. Hubby and I love cantaloupe. That was a great price.

    You're welcome for the idea for the topping. It really is quite good. On a day when I can justify the fat content I'm going to make "baked faux macaroni" -- basically steam the cauliflower lightly, bake with a cheese sauce. Daughter suggested adding crumbled bacon because and I quote "Bacon and chocolate are wonder foods. They make most things you add them to taste better." LOL

    We don't have a farmer's market, but I am hoping the local family I bought produce from last year is selling again this year.

    1. Hi Shara,
      Faux macaroni would be good. I think for a family, even just splitting the mac with some cauliflower would be a great way to sneak in some veggies. Your daughter is right on the bacon and chocolate! I think I could get my family to eat just about anything if I added lots of bacon to it.

      Oh, I hope your local family does sell some produce this summer. We have a farming area not too far from here, and I love going out there in summer, just driving around and seeing all the small farms. many of them set up a table or two and sell off surplus veggies.

  3. You got some great deals :) I love the look of that fresh cantaloupe.

    1. Hi Economies,
      My husband laughs at the way I shop at the produce stand. He'll ask me what I plan on picking up and I say, "I don't know yet". Then I make a beeline for the markdown bin. I'd have to say about 90% of the time I find a really great deal in that bin.

  4. Wow, great deal on the melons. I buy bananas on sale and then if they go off too fast freeze them for muffins later.

    1. Hi Cheapchick,
      It was a pretty good deal. Frozen bananas also are great in smoothies, or as an ice cream substitute (sliced, frozen bananas whirled in the food processor while still frozen. It comes out sweet and creamy like ice cream). I've also experimented with dehydrated banana chips (using marked down bananas). While they turned out great, I found they were too time-consuming to do all that slicing thin, to make it something I'd want to do very often.

  5. I'm a big fan of the gobble it all up strategy! :-)

    1. Hi Cat,
      for items like these melons, that's the preferred way to go, in our house. So it may get a bit monotonous by the end of the weekend, but we do okay with that!


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