Over the years, working with clients on meal planning, I’ve noticed that one of the reasons why we don’t buy and eat enough fruit and vegetables is because of the waste.
Seeing too much of your produce going into the bin is too expensive, too depressing and it’s just easier to order a pizza with extra tomatoes to try and compensate and ease on the guilt.
Most of us have good intentions when it comes to healthy eating. We really want to make healthier food choices but most family budgets don’t allow food to just go in the bin; All because we don’t know how to cook or how to store the foods.
I find it extremely essential that everyone have access to clean (organic and non-GMO) fresh food. Even on a tight budget, you should how to utilize your produce and not waste a thing.
Fresh is best but there is nothing wrong with frozen fruit and veggies if that’s what works best for you in your daily routines.
Here are a few tips that will make sure you’ll always have good nutritious food within reach.
As long as your fruit and veggies aren’t either rotten or moldy, there’s no reason to toss them. Slightly droopy vegetables are absolutely fine in both sauces and soups.
Most times lettuces and greens are wilted because they are dried out. Simply soaking them in cold water for 15-30 minutes can bring your veggies back to life. You can even store them in a bowl of cold water in the fridge overnight. You can also get some firmness into wilted and flabby veggies like celery and carrots by soaking them in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of vinegar. Just cut of an inch of the tops or stalks before soaking.
The Vegetable Stock
There’s nothing like homemade vegetable stock and you can literally almost use any vegetable, which makes vegetable sock the perfect solution for the not-quite-perfect vegetables you forgot way back in the fridge drawer. Non-crisp does not mean non-flavor!
Celery, onions and carrots are almost key ingredients in a tasty pot of homemade vegetable stock.
After that, there are endless combinations. Leeks, green beans, scallions chard, potatoes, squash, bell peppers, eggplant, fennel and some fresh or dried herbs. After a few hours of simmering on the stove, you’ll never know what the veggies looked like when they went into the pot.
Freeze and bake – it’s all good!
So is it okay to freeze your fruit and vegetables? Absolutely yes! Especially if it means that you will actually buy and eat your daily portion of these essentials foods. Fresh is best but frozen is good too!
Again, as long as your produce is not moldy or rotten, most of it can easily be put in zip-locks and saved in the freezer. Another tip is to chop the veggies before tossing in zip-locks so you can easily add them to a stir-fry, slow cooker or use as seasoning for any meal.
Slightly limp and soft veggies are great
in casseroles so if you bought too much broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants etc. –
these can easily be sliced up and used in a casserole.
Or cook them and add them as added flavor, color and nutrients to mashed potatoes.
If you have bought too many greens and you know they’ll go bad, you can simply de-stem and steam them for 2-3 minutes. Cool and divide into freezer bags or containers. Store in freezer for 6-12 months!
It really is all about storage and spending a few minutes on a little preparation once a week.
Airtight containers and zip-lock bags can preserve your fruits and veggies for up to 5 days.
If you’re on a busy schedule, is pays to spend a little time once a week where you chop, cut and bag your fruit and veggies.
Most fruits like melon, berries and bananas can go right in the freezer and be used in smoothies or used as colorful and tasty ice cubes in a festive drink. Just wash, cut, peel and seal in bags and toss it in the freezer for easy access.
Consider meal planning. You can sit down once a weekly or maybe even bi-weekly and plan your meals. This way you don’t have to think about what to buy and what to cook everyday. It’s a simple time and money safer that pays in every way. And it’s a great way to include kids – especially the picky ones so they have a saying and therefore are more open to eat and enjoy the food you are cooking.Wilted greens like chard, kale (my favorite) and spinach, are great if slightly sautéed. This way, you can add them to a variety of dishes with or without meat – just as you prefer.
Cook smarter – not harder!