Mom Says, “Eat Your veggies.” Are they ready yet?
Yes, prepping fresh vegetables takes time and energy but The USDA recommends that 1/2 of your plate be filled with them. Some of us take pleasure in working with veggies and others are looking for ways to make it simpler. Usually we wash, cut and cook vegetables while assembling the rest of the meal which can be hectic sometimes. but, if you just prepare them ahead of time or include them in your total meal plan you can simplify cooking for dinner. Here are five ideas for including veggies in your plan.
Different types of vegetables need different preparation methods. Smart meal planning allows you to prepare some of these ingredients ahead of time to make cooking a breeze.
- Cut Leafy vegetables have recently been added to the FDA potentially hazardous food (PHF) list so safe handling is important. FDA recommends that they be stored in the safe temperature zone (less than 41 degrees or over 135 degrees) if cut or processed. So, if you want to save time and energy at dinnertime, separate the loose leaves, wash them in cold water, shake them dry and refrigerate them under 41 degrees in a breathable bag. They are ready to serve.
- Root vegetables fall into two groups. Starchy ones like Potatoes and yams are best stored in a cool dry place. You can wash, peel and cut them a few hours before cooking for dinner if they are covered in cold water. Carrots, beets, and onions however can be washed, cut and bagged to be used in a couple of days. These less starchy root vegetables can be washed, cut, blanched and frozen for later use. Most sources recommend cooking them from a frozen state.
- Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other vegetables like corn, snow peas and green beans can be cleaned and bagged for later use. If storing more than 1 week, we recommend blanching them before freezing.
- A good way to serve vegetables is to have them available all day for snacks. Our daughters have cut vegetables (see picture) in the fridge ready to munch on. In addition, they are prepped and ready to throw into soups, casseroles , omelets, and tacos.
- Slow cooking vegetables is a real time-saver. The insert can be loaded in the evening when you have time, refrigerated and started in the slow cooker in the morning. If cooked on low it should be ready at dinnertime.
Preparing vegetables and slow cooking are discussed in our upcoming book “$10 Meals for a family of Six”