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Stock Up on Produce Staples

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

From fridge to freezer to "cantry" and everything in between, we share our favorite at‍-‍home staples that inspire in the kitchen.

The solution to busy schedules, nutrition goals and feeling your best? Having a well-prepared kitchen, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. These two Food Groups are specifically rich in essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidant-acting plant compounds. The result of eating enough produce throughout the day (and week!) is feeling your best throughout thanks to their nutrients assisting a variety of pathways that occur in your cells – with being happier, while strengthening your immune system to fight off pesky germs and viruses, just happens to be a byproduct.1,2

Let these produce staples help you be ready – and energized – for busy days ahead.

In the Fridge

Convenience is the name of the game, so make sure refrigerated items are grab‍-‍and‍-‍go friendly or pre‍-‍chopped and sliced for easy use. You’re more likely to add in chopped bell pepper to your dish or snack on cantaloupe if it’s already rinsed and cut, whether you purchase it that way or spend a few minutes doing so when returning from the store. Don’t forget about 100% fruit and vegetable juices, sipping on orange juice with breakfast and adding a juice box to your child’s brown bag lunch are easy ways to up your produce game. Individual hummus cups are another favorite for easy and portable snacking.


In the Freezer

Remember how we did some pre‍-‍slicing and dicing for easy fruit and veggie meal additions? If you don’t think you’ll use up all you purchased, throw some in food storage bags and place in the freezer. Those sliced onions and chopped broccoli florets will come in handy when you don’t have fresh on hand. And same goes for fruit – slice and freeze bananas along with chopped mango and a handful of berries. These pre‍-‍portioned fruit bags can help you whip up smoothies in no time or add tropical flavors to your morning oatmeal. When shopping for frozen fruits and veggies, opt for varieties that may not be in season, like frozen cranberries, or options that make prepping meals a breeze, like stir fry blends, halved Brussels sprouts or riced cauliflower.


In Dry Storage

In addition to flavor enhancers like ginger, onion and garlic and room‍-‍temp friendly fruits like bananas and clementines, stock up on plenty of canned produce options so your pantry is filled with colorful variety whenever quick dishes have to come together. Beans are versatile and cost‍-‍effective, whether adding black beans to a cool‍-‍weather stew or cannellini beans into your favorite pasta dish for a plant‍-‍based dinner. Pureed pumpkin and applesauce can be baked into snack‍-‍time muffins or stirred into pancake mix when prepping breakfast in a hurry. And don’t forget about lunchbox favorites (for all ages!) like squeezable fruit pouches, 100% fruit leathers, dried fruit blends and freeze‍-‍dried veggie crisps. They’re sure to bring a smile to your child’s face and set them up for a successful school day.

1  Produce for Better Health Foundation. Novel approaches to measuring and promoting fruit and vegetable consumption, 2017: An executive summary. Accessed 3/2/2024. https://pbhfoundation.org/ sites/default/files/pdf/Novel%20Approaches%20Executive%20 Summary.pdf.
2  Slavin JL, Lloyd B. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr 2012;3(4):506-516. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.002154.

Updated 3/27/2024