5 ways to guarantee none of your lettuce goes to waste

5 ways to guarantee none of your lettuce goes to waste

t’s a common problem among grocery-goers. You try your best to plan ahead, but ultimately some of your food — most likely your produce — gets tossed at the end of the week. (Just this weekend, I threw out the moldiest of butternut squash. You can thank me for sparing you a picture.)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the food voted “Most Likely to be Tossed” in my home is almost always lettuce. Finding the brown, faded leaves always leaves me wondering what I could have done differently. Why did I allow the triple-washed spring mix to so sadly wilt in the back of the fridge?

So now that we’ve collectively acknowledged how neglectful we are of our lettuce, let us find some solutions.

1. Bag it

If you know you won’t be using your lettuce — or any produce for that matter — right away, invest in some produce bags, which promise to keep your veggies salad-ready longer.

Ziploc Fresh Produce Bags help keep your veggies fresher longer. The moisture vents control the amount of moisture inside, and the bags are big enough to fit a head of lettuce. The company recommends using them to store unwashed, uncut vegetables.

Clearly Fresh Bags features its BreatheWay membrane, which acts as an oxygen/carbon dioxide passageway that allows the right amount of oxygen in and much more carbon dioxide out.

Green Bags from Evert-Fresh come in three sizes: half gallon, 1 gallon and 1.5 gallon.

2. Location, location, location

Stop throwing your veggies willy-nilly in the fridge. It totally matters where you place your lettuce, tomatoes and other fresh produce. Try storing the most short-lived produce in the back of the fridge where it’s colder.

It also matters which fruits and veggies neighbor each other, since some produce release more ethylene gas than others. For instance, it would be wise to keep your lettuce (plus broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, kale and other ethylene-sensitive produce) away from apples and other gas releasers.

Check out our HellaWella guide for other storage tips, and the American Heart Association for more advice.

3. Chop it up

While technically not a lettuce saver, may we recommend chopping your salads as a crafty way to use all your fresh veggies before they start growing hair? A recently acquired salad chopper has saved me from throwing out piles of unused lettuce, spinach and spring mixes. Why? Aside from the obvious fun it affords you, chopping your salad brings all the flavors together and in my opinion, ups the taste factor. And, if you add avocado, it creates a nice creamy dressing, so you don’t have to drench it with calorie-laden extras. Here are some good choices if you want to go the chopping route.

Oxo Salad Chopper with Bowl

Trudeau Toss-and-Chop

Chef’n Salad Chopper Shears

Williams-Sonoma Double Mezzaluna

4. Wrap it up

If you buy a big head of lettuce, you can carefully remove the core, separate the leaves and use them to wrap up your favorite Mexican ingredients — think taco, but with lettuce instead of a tortilla. You won’t believe how quickly you’ll use up all of it. 

5. Learn to love the wedge

Despite what you may think, wedge salads aren’t outdated — at least in our minds. Cut a head of lettuce into quarters (or eighths, depending on how large of a salad you want), and then simply top it with your favorite toppings and salad dressing. (Our personal favorite is blue cheese crumbles, bacon, tomatoes and walnuts.) Give it a try with this recipe for chicken wedge salad with apple, walnuts & lemon-blue cheese dressing.