Each year, about 40 percent of all food in the United States goes uneaten, or around $165 billion dollars  worth of food. Although a certain amount of this waste in the food stream simply can’t be helped, due to the processing and distribution in produce as well as uneaten food from restaurants. However, when we purchase perishable food items, we can each make more valiant effort to use what we have purchased before it looses it’s freshness.
As much as I want to break free of the confines of being dependent on commercially-purchased foods, I am guilty of making fresh produce a large part of my grocery budget at the grocery store. My rule is that I allow my family to eat as much of the fruit and vegetables as they can, and when the end of the week nears, I do an inventory of the food left to eat. If the produce hasn’t been eaten, then I make plans to preserve it, freeze or use it up. Here are some of my backup plans for uneaten produce.
- Fresh Juice or Smoothie – Taking a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies to make a smoothie or fresh juice is a great way to use up your surplus produce. I love adding lots of spinach or kale to my juices so that my kids get an extra vegetable source during the day. When I make smoothies, I add fresh fruit to the blender, some homemade yogurt and raw milk and a spoonful of honey and the kids love it!
- Popsicles – If you have some extra berries laying around, cut them up and make homemade popsicles . Your kiddos will devour them during the warm summer months. If you have leftover yogurt that needs to be eaten, made a creamier version with this recipe .
- Fruit Pizza – If you have some berries that you need to get rid of, you can make a healthy version of a fruit pizza for dessert. If you have younger children, you can make mini versions of the fruit pizza that are easier to hold but making cookie sized crusts. Here’s a healthy version of the recipe  that my family enjoys.
- Add It To Recipes – Adding any of your extra fruit to recipes such as pancakes, crepes or small tarts and other desserts helps to add additional flavor to your existing recipes. One way you can use up your fruit is to make homemade fruit sauces or fruit butters. Another way is to make fresh fruit syrup. This is great to use for extra berries, cherries, peaches, pineapple, mango, papaya, bananas, etc. Here’s how to make it: Over medium heat, take 1 cup of diced fruit and add 1/3 cup of water. Add sugar and mash fruit while cooking. For thin syrup, strain mixture before serving. If you want a chunkier syrup, you can blend the mixture in a blender if needed.
- Natural Beauty Treatments – Fruit has many beneficial properties that can be used for spa days. Ever heard of fruit facials? They are the latest trend in naturally cleansing skin. Strawberries, peaches, kiwi, bananas and cucumbers are used to treat skin and provide delicious aromatherapy. Some of our favorite fruits and vegetables are natural abrasives that can be used to slough off dead skin and naturally brighten and tone the skin. Even having an over abundance of herbs  can be utilized for beauty regimens.
- Freeze For Later Use – When you don’t have time to use up your fruit supply, cut it up and add it to freezer bag. You can make a fruit assortment to use in pies, smoothies, or used for other purposes in the future. This is the quickest way to preserve your fruit.
- Dehydrate It – One of the best ways to create a solid food supply  is to dehydrate your fruits and veggies to ensure you have some for future use. Dehydrated foods can be stored for up to a year and can easily be rehydrated. See this chart for rehydration .
Using these simple solutions for using up fruit will help you make the most of your produce investment at the stores. Choose one day each week to check your fruit and vegetables. If you see they are not being eaten, use them up or store them up for later use.