The Texture Rule To Keep Next Week's Meal Prep Waste-Free

One of the most alluring benefits of a weekly meal prep habit is getting the biggest bang for your buck out of your time, money, and ingredients. And while meticulous planning and organization will maximize efficiency in these aspects, one thing you really can't control is the rate at which fresh produce starts to go bad.

We're all guilty of leaving a delicate bunch of leafy herbs, perfectly ripened summer zucchini, or crisp bag of romaine hearts to linger a little too long in the produce drawer of our fridge. Who hasn't come across a bag of bendable carrots nestled in the back at some point or a sad, wilted bunch of basil? But if you want to minimize your food waste and use every last leaf of cilantro before it's fit for the compost bin, there's a simple tip to keep in mind to make the most out of your meal prep: plan to eat those ripe, tender ingredients first.

Heartier veg go to the back of the line

The shorter the item's fridge shelf life is, the sooner you should use it. This mostly applies to produce that is softer in texture — think leafy greens, cucumbers, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. The heartier veggies, such as potatoes, cabbage, and carrots, have a bit longer lifespan for you to work with.

So if you're choosing a few recipes to prep for the week and one of them calls for only half a sweet potato, don't worry about properly storing the other half and using it up the following week. But when it comes to that bunch of cilantro or head of butter lettuce, you may want to choose a few recipes that call for the ingredient to get the most out of it, as it very well may be slimy come next week's prep day.

And when all else fails, those bendable carrots would still make a delicious puréed soup. Perhaps with a cilantro garnish?