Being on a college budget is harsh, and watching it go down the drain with a couple pounds of wilted vegetables doesn't help either. If you know how to sustainably preserve fresh produce, you might be able to save yourself the hassle.

While having fresh produce is a must for a healthy college lifestyle, it can be hard keeping a fridge full of healthy ingredients. As produce quickly expires, no choice is left but to succumb to a bag of chips for lunch and instant ramen for dinner. 

Here are a couple sustainable, fool-proof techniques to keeping produce healthy and fresh for more than just a week; fit not for only saving stomachs but wallets as well. 

Before You Buy

Although I previously emphasized at-home methods, one of the most important steps in keeping produce fresh comes even before the purchase. When shopping for salad greens, fresh herbs, or green onions, do not just pick up any bushel without inspection. While the bundle of stems and leaves may look healthy and green upon first glance, thoroughly checking the insides and bottom can uncover hidden blemishes. If an abundance of darkened, slimy leaves is uncovered, it is best to look somewhere else. Countless times I have bought what I thought was a perfect bunch of spinach, only to find a soggy mess waiting for me the next morning.  

kale, lettuce, vegetable, swiss chard, fresh vegetables, local produce, farmer's market
Sam Jesner

Washing and Drying

After buying, the first step is immediately washing and drying all of the greens. Grab a colander, and thoroughly rinse all of the leaves and stems. If any leaves seem to be turning, dispose of them right away. After rinsing, pat dry and lay out on a plate between paper towels to absorb any excess moisture for about 30 minutes. 

Storing Your Salad Greens

Katharine Lawrence

Storing salad greens such as kale and spinach, or fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley requires special care. Keeping them sealed away in plastic bags allows no breathing room, and will cause the greens to quickly wilt. Instead, line the bottom of a large Tupperware container with paper towel, and then place the washed produce inside. The paper towel will absorb any moisture still evaporating from the plant's cells. Storing salad greens in this manner keeps the leaves from wilting for up to two weeks. However if any of the leaves seem to be turning, swap out the paper towel for a fresh one and mix up the leaves a bit, discarding any wilted sections. Fresh vegetables can be stored using a similar process. 

Green Onions and Fresh Herbs

Katharine Lawrence

Green onions, or scallions, work very similarly to leafy greens. Simply take washed stalks, discard the end roots, and chop them into small pieces. Take the chopped onion and store in a Tupperware container. Then fold a paper towel into a square and press down on top of the chopped onions. The onions will stay fresh and at quick use for 1-2 weeks at most. After about 2 weeks, the onions will begin to darken in color. At this time, transfer the chopped onion into a large Ziploc bag, and tightly seal. When time comes to use the frozen scallions, I generally cook them for fried rice or use in a cold noodle salad. After thawing, the onions loose their crispiness, so I recommend only using thawed onions for cooking, and save fresh pieces for garnish. Herbs can also be preserved through freezing.  

Katharine Lawrence

Extra fruit can work in the same manner, for example, leftover blueberries, strawberries, bananas, or avocado. Simply slice the fruit into "blendable" chunks, throw into a Ziploc bag, and use later in anything from oatmeal ad-ins to morning smoothies.  

These simple methods will not only work to save a falling budget and diet, but also promote a sustainable college lifestyle.