4:14 PM

A Little Prep Work Goes A Long Way

As I was chopping up everything there was to chop in the fridge today it hit me that I wanted to share with you some of my tips on making our produce last until we can get it consumed.

See there is only two of us in our household & only one of us will eat fruits. However, we are both guilty of not eating enough fruits & vegetables. To add to that frustration, the prices of these products keep going up while the quality keeps going down.

So how do I get all this produce to last us & actually get us to use it? Well, a little help from my Grands & a little trial & error. The trick is to trick the mind! If you break it all down into usable sizes or servings sizes, ready to eat/use immediately, you are more likely to grab it & use it. But if you have to take it out, wash it, prep it, etc. just to get to a point to use it, you will skip over it more often than not.

First you will need:
  • one day to just prep food (Sundays while doing dinners or during the day when baby is napping)
  • produce of choice
  • lots of Gladware, Ziploc containers, or Tupperware (or all the above) in various sizes
  • a few Ziploc bags
  • 1 great & sharp cutting & chopping knife or a block of them (as is my case)
  • scissors
  • cutting board
  • trash bowl or can ready to be used

When it comes to lettuce, we are picky about it being only Romaine Lettuce. Besides being the healthiest lettuce to eat of lettuces, it also will last longer than most others we have tried. I shred the lettuce down by hand, pulling it off the main stalk (center part that will turn brown quickly) in bite size tears. I dispose of the center stalk from each leaf. You may use it, calling it a waste to throw it out, but it turns brown fast & no one wants to eat it then or anything that has touched it. I put my torn lettuce into a large square Gladware container & then in the crisper. I don't add a sponge, or paper towels, etc. Just like that into the crisper. I can get up 1-2 weeks of it being of good use, enough time for us to eat it. With it already torn, it is so easy just to pull out the tub & add lettuce to our sandwiches & burgers, or make a salad. We actually use the lettuce! It is gone before it goes bad!

Cilantro is one of those amazing herbs that no one really uses, mostly because it costs so much & you get this big bundle that you can't use before it goes bad. Like the lettuce, I chop it up, minced is more like it, and I put it in little tiny Gladware mini rounds (1/2 cup) containers. We never need much more than that per dish, including guacamole. I toss them also back into the crisper.

Grapes. I am the only fruit eater in this house & grapes are a pain to get down. They come in one big bag. I have learned that if I wash them, sort them, & divide them into little servings, I will grab a bag & eat them. But you can't just toss them into a Ziploc bag, the get all gooey & rot. I take a pair of scissors & I nick then bottom of the back & the bottom 1/3 of the bag sides to great little airflow vents. Yep, then back in the crisper! You got it! 2-3 weeks usually!

Carrots, Celery, Broccoli, & Cherry Tomatoes get mixed & matched into the small Twist & Lock Ziploc containers. This is a great lunch pack or snack to just grab! I buy the baby carrots & cherry tomatoes (to prevent getting gooey & chopping off a finger...carrots & I aren't friends), but the rest I buy in the normal natural size & cut down to finger food size that fits in these containers. I make up 5-7...a weeks worth to be shared between 2 people. B used to never snack on these kinds of foods until I did this. Now, he will crab them & some ranch & go to town!

Any broccoli or celery left over gets chopped down into "cooking" sizes (what we would normal want to cook with) & put into more Ziploc Twist & Lock containers & into the freezer! If you are going to cook with the celery you can take it out the day of or before, drain any water off, & toss it into the pan (like for potato soup). **If you pack the containers really tight, you will have less water when thawed.

I continue this pattern with just about everything from watermelon, strawberries, to tomatoes pre-sliced. I DO NOT attempt this with avocados, apples, bananas, or other like fruits. Even with the club soda or lemon tricks, they still go bad or turn brown quickly. I might save half an avocado (the seed side) with a little lemon juice on it to prevent browning if I know I will eat it in a day or two. I even cut down blocks of cheese to snack on & put them in small containers.

Imagine if you did buy in bulk? You could easily do this kind of prep work with bell peppers, spinach, green chiles, etc. Not only do you get to cut down on your grocery bill loss, you increase your diet potential all while also making dinner easier to make! The best part...the containers are washable! You can reuse them & be green!

Eating healthy is a lifestyle. That was the hardest thing to learn. And a lifestyle is what we have created. We are eating fresher by the day & we know what we are eating. I hope you got something fun & useful out of this blog.