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Produce Pre-Prep


Yeah, I know. I’m a little alliteration happy. But on to my post…

I know I need to include lots of fresh veggies in my diet, but there are some challenges to reaching that goal. One, I try to do grocery shopping no more than once a week, so sometimes I end up stocking up on veggies and just don’t eat them before they go bad. Two, sometimes I’m just too lazy to do the prep work that comes with them–cleaning, slicing and dicing. And three, produce is often, unfortunately, expensive. Since I  have no green thumb at all, I haven’t come up with any great ways to overcome that third obstacle, but I have some strategies for the first two.

To keep from wasting food (and prevent extra trips to the grocery store), I’ve been working on planning out menus for the week ahead a little more solidly. Sometimes it’s tough to find the time to do that, but it really doesn’t take that long and winds up saving me time in the long run. When I do that, I try to factor in my veggies by planning meals that incorporate those foods that spoil more quickly for the first few days after a grocery run. Veggies that last longer are used for meals later in the week. I also plan meals that have some vegetables in common on their ingredient list, so I’m don’t end up overbuying (particularly for things that are cheaper by the bag and/or hard to buy in small quantities).

To overcome the laziness, I try to consolidate all the “produce prep.” I usually have a lot more ambition (and time) to tackle this work on the weekends than I do after a long day at work. So instead of getting out the cutting board and knife each night to cut one onion, one pepper, or whatever I need for the night, I’ll take an hour and chop all the onions, peppers, etc., that I brought home, according to what I need for my recipes. By investing a little extra time on the weekend, I save a lot more time during the week. “Batch” prepping or cooking, as it has come to be known, can be a great time saver, and you’ll see mentions of “batching” opportunities in posts to come. Added bonus–the cut veggies seem to last longer once cut than they do in their whole state.  Also stay tuned for tips on cutting techniques that make the slicing and dicing process easier.