I was talking to a friend recently and I was amazed at how well she had stocked her kitchen with several weeks worth of long-lasting fruits and vegetables, flour to bake bread, and healthy snacks for her kids.
Of course, now that most of us are trying to cut down on trips to the grocery store and have a renewed focus on healthy, home cooked meals, keeping fruits and vegetables on hand that will last for more than a few days is key.
Stocking up on fruits and vegetables that stay fresh is also a great way to save money.
While you’re probably stocking up on non-perishable items like canned foods, and frozen produce, here’s a list of long-lasting fresh fruits and vegetables to add to your list.
Whether it’s the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or not, apples don’t last long in my home.
We add them to oatmeal, make “baked apples” in the microwave for snacks, and have apples for dessert—not all on the same day, but still, we eat a lot of apples!
If your family enjoys apples too, the good news is that when it comes to long-lasting fruits and vegetables, they top the list.
Apples can be stored unrefrigerated for 3 weeks, and 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator, but be sure to store them in the fruit crisper drawer.
If you need to keep them even longer, you can store cooked apples in the freezer for 8 months.
Unlike broccoli which lasts between 3 and 5 days in the refrigerator, cabbage is a green leafy vegetable that lasts 1 to 2 weeks. You can also keep cabbage frozen for 10 to 12 months.
Since they have a mild taste, the green and savoy varieties may be an easier sell for kids. On the other hand, some kids may prefer red cabbage because it’s so bright and colorful.
I usually sauté cabbage in coconut oil with onions and a sprinkle of salt, but a few weeks ago, I made egg roll in bowl and it’s been one of our new favorite meals.
You can also use cabbage as a low-carb wrap for burgers or chicken salad, for example.
If you’re cooking more, carrots are a must-have for mirepoix and luckily, they’re one of the best long-lasting fruits and vegetables.
Carrots last between 2 to 3 weeks when refrigerated and 10 to 12 months when frozen.
Baby carrots last a long time too: 4 weeks in the refrigerator and 3 months frozen.
For kids, make roasted carrot fries, add shredded carrots to muffins and breads, or serve cut-up carrots with hummus.
Brightly colored, with a bit of a crunch and a hint of sweetness, bell peppers can be kid-friendly.
Fortunately, they’re also long lasting, which is a good thing when you’re trying to feed kids and make the most out of your meals.
In the refrigerator, peppers last between 4 and 14 days and 6 to 8 months frozen.
Peppers are also quite versatile. Serve cut-up peppers with guacamole, bean dip, hummus or your kid’s favorite dip. Make sausage and peppers, stuffed peppers, or fajitas.
5. WINTER SQUASH
Winter squash like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash are not only healthy and delicious, but they’re some of the best long-lasting fruits and vegetables.
In fact, you can store winter squash for 2 to 6 weeks in your pantry, 1 to 3 months in the refrigerator, and 10 to 12 months frozen.
Try serving roasted cubes of butternut squash with cinnamon or baked spaghetti squash and cheese.
Like apples, pears are some of best long-lasting fruits and vegetables.
When they’re left out, pears typically ripen in just a few days, but when you refrigerate them, they can last longer: between 1 to 3 months for unripe, but mature pears.
Pears go well with cheese (cheddar, Gorgonzola, and brie are good choices) for snacks. You can also add slices of pear to peanut butter sandwiches in place of jelly, or to green smoothies for your kids.
Like winter squash, potatoes are some of the best vegetables to keep on hand during this time.
Potatoes hold up for 1 to 2 months when they’re stored in the pantry—which is the preferred method anyway. Store them in the refrigerator and they only last 1 to 2 weeks. When frozen, cooked potatoes will stay for 10 to 12 months.
Celery lasts for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and 10-12 months in the freezer.
Celery is a must-have for mirapoix, but you can add chopped celery to tuna fish or canned salmon for lunch, incorporate them into smoothies, or serve it as a snack with a spread of peanut butter.
Radishes stay fresh for 10-14 days in the refrigerator. Although you can freeze them, they have a different texture than fresh radishes, which is why it’s important to blanch them first, according to Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.
Radishes are a very good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium.
When it comes to getting your kids to eat them, it could go either way. I’m not a fan of them myself unless they’re in a real tasty salad, so I never served them to my kids.
Yet when my older daughter was in kindergarten, she wanted to try them. The reason? Her friend at school ate them every day for snack.
1. Food Keeper app
2. Albrecht, Julie A. (2007) Food Storage. University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension. Retrieved April 29, 2020, from http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec446.pdf.