6 Tips To Reduce Produce Food Costs

Salad Greens

We are all feeling the inflation rise with higher prices for fruits and vegetables.

What Can You Do?

Fresh Strawberries

Here are some tips to help you make wise decisions when buying these items and also help you keep produce safe.

Choose Quality

It’s best to choose produce that is not damaged or bruised.

When buying pre-cut, bagged or packaged produce, such as salad greens or half a cantaloupe, check that the produce is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

Bagged Kale Slaw

Store Safely

Most of us know to always store fresh fruits and vegetables separately from raw meats, poultry and seafood when taking groceries home from the store. There was a case of raw blood from a torn hamburger meat package dripping onto raw salad greens which caused an outbreak of E. Coli! This was preventable if the vegetables and raw meat had been packed separately at the grocery store.

Separate For Safety

Use separate cutting boards for produce, raw meat, poultry & seafood

It’s very important to keep raw fruits and vegetables separate from raw meats and seafood, and also to use separate kitchen utensils for these items. When finished with food preparation, always wash the knives and cutting boards in hot soapy water or the dishwasher.

Saving Money

Raw Carrots

Tips To Follow

You can save money on produce with these helpful tips:

*Buy produce which is cold and refrigerate immediately when home.

*Use clean and sanitary utensils for food preparation.

*Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

*Do not wash fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or a commercial produce wash as these steps are not effective.

*Even if you do not plan to eat the skin of fruits and vegetables, wash with water first to prevent dirt and bacteria transferring from the surface when peeling or cutting.

*Use a clean produce brush to scrub firm produce with water such as melons and cucumbers which will also remove surface contaminants.

Salad with a meal

By following these tips, you will reduce produce wastage and reduce your food costs!

Inspection Reports

As a public health inspector, I remember waiting for the restaurant manager to discuss the inspection report based on my visit to the foodservice operation. I had been writing my report by hand. In those days, reports were handwritten noting any deficiencies which required correction. A voice suddenly interrupted my train of thought, “I wasn’t expecting a woman!”. This came from the manager of the restaurant. He was shocked that a woman could do the job.  My reply was “You never had it so good!”. Now in 2021, many years later, those words are the working title of my next book which will be a memoir on my experiences as a female public health inspector.

When I began my first position in Medicine Hat, Alberta, there had not been another public health inspector hired for 20 years. I was described by one of the inspectors as “a bright light”. I didn’t walk around plugged in all the time but I did bring a new perspective on getting the job done. The secretary was impressed to have a female around the office. She told me that a new broom sweeps clean. Another inspector, who also had been with the unit for 20 years, was not pleased to have a female inspector on the job. I might have shown him up as he hadn’t done much work for many years.

There was definitely lots of work to be done. Restaurants hadn’t been inspected, small towns had been neglected, grocery stores and hotels had not had follow-up inspections. One of my restaurant managers in a small town called Bow River reminded me that I was tough. “Your reputation has preceded you!” she said. Her restaurant had many violations but she and her staff did co-operate and clean up. It was wonderful to have food operations running in compliance compared which protected the health of the population.  Also, the general public noticed the improvement in foodservice operations when dining out and phoned in compliments to the Health Unit.