Waste Not, Want Not
by Alisa Teglia | June 22nd, 2016
I admit it. I often get overzealous at the grocery store with well intentioned plans to prepare fresh vegetables at each meal. I fill my cart with a multitude of fresh radishes, beets, scallions and cauliflower envisioning elaborate recipes. In reality, the week gets hectic and many of the vegetables remain untouched in the refrigerator. In order not to waste these wonderful veggies, here are three techniques that help me utilize the food I purchase:
Sauté: Greens (such as kale, beet greens or chards) have a relatively short lifespan in the refrigerator before they become limp and soggy. Drizzle a small amount of your favorite oil and add a clove of minced garlic to a skillet. Once heated, add the greens and cook until they are slightly wilted. These greens can be cooled and placed in air-tight containers for use throughout the week in soups (even if you are opening a can of soup, it will improve its vegetable content), pastas, casseroles or mixed into a grain side dish. It’s a fast and easy way to retain nutrients, prevent spoilage and add vegetables to almost any meal.
Freeze: Have you ever tried to make your own frozen vegetable packs? It’s necessary to thoroughly wash and dry all vegetables before chopping into bite size pieces. As a precaution, I encourage blanching the vegetables (a quick boil for 2 minutes followed by a 2 minute dunk in ice water) before laying the pieces out in a single layer on cookie sheets. Place the cookie trays in the freezer for one hour. Once frozen, a combination of vegetables can be packaged together into freezer bags or other containers. How about cauliflower and broccoli packs? Carrots and celery? The possibilities are endless! Frozen vegetables can be used in just about any way you use fresh vegetables. After a long day at work, it is very convenient to pull out a package from the freezer and add it to a meal.
Roast: My favorite way to use leftover vegetables from the week is to roast them. I clear out my vegetable bin and chop up what I have left. Spread the vegetables on a cookie sheet and drizzle lightly with oil and desired seasonings. Place in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a caramelized crust forms on the pieces. Portion out the vegetables in one cup servings in convenient containers and they will last an additional 2-3 days in refrigerator or place in freezer for later use.
Preplanning and a little preparation when returning home from the grocery store are the keys to avoiding vegetable waste. Your diet and checkbook will thank you!