Harvesting a guide to summer produce

Between going to school and working, it may seem hard for students to find time to prepare healthy meals at home. Luckily, due to the abundance of seasonal summer produce, grocery stores are full of delicious fruits and vegetables that are perfect for making meals, drinks and snacks. Making home-cooked meals doesnt have to be overwhelming, time consuming or expensive.

The Oracle has compiled a list of the best summer produce, tips and recipes by USF students so you can get the most out of your produce without wasting money.

Create a weekly meal plan and shopping list
With a weekly meal plan, you will know exactly what you need from the store. Making a list of the ingredients you need for the week will help cut back on unnecessary spending.

The grocery store is full of tempting snacks in eye-catching packages, and if you dont have a list to follow, you may add these money-wasting items to your cart.

Start in the produce section
Have you ever reached the end of your list, only to realize that you have to put several items back in order to save money? Starting your grocery shopping in the produce section is a great way to make sure that the items you put back are not of the fruit and vegetable variety.

Fresh produce should go into your cart during the earlier part of your trip to the grocery store, when you are less inclined to worry about prices and budgeting.

When you start counting prices during the later part of the trip, put back that bag of chips and leave the apples and tomatoes in your cart.

Dont buy in bulk
The weekly meal list will also help you determine the amount of fresh produce you will need to purchase for the week. A sale on 3-pound bags of carrots may seem like a great deal, but if only one of your weekly meals calls for them, youre probably going to end up wasting most of the bag.

Know the ethylene gas culprits
There are certain fruits and vegetables that give off ethylene gas as they ripen. While natural, this gas causes surrounding produce to spoil at a faster rate.

Common ethylene releasers include apples, tomatoes, bananas avocados and plums. Make sure to keep these items out of the fridge and away from other food.

Dont fillrefrigerator
Not only does a full fridge prevent proper air circulation, but it also makes it harder to know what you have stored away.

With a half empty fridge, it will be easier to know what to eat first, limiting the amount of money wasted on spoiled produce.

Click to enlarge the recipes on the right.