In my house, vegetables are the food item most likely to get tossed out. That’s because most veggies have a short life and they tend not to be something (like fruit) you can just grab and eat as is. In other words, they take preparation time.
I started to get serious about decreasing veggie waste as it’s never good to throw out food. So this year I’ve started incorporating these three simple strategies into my weekly routine
1. Have a Veggie Strategy
When at the supermarket or Farmer’s Market I often experience vegetable guilt. Basically, I see all these amazing veggies and feel like I need to buy them even though they aren’t on the week’s menu. But without a plan of how to prepare them, they can too easily be forgotten.
My weekly strategy includes picking 2-3 veggies to have raw for snacks and lunches (this week it’s carrots, sugar snap peas, and celery). I decide what will go into my salad of the week. And I plan out veggies to cook with meals.
I still experience vegetable guilt, but instead of buying the vegetable, I make note of it on my phone. Then when it comes to planning next week’s veggie strategy, I look for recipes with that particular veggie.
2. Make a List of What You Buy and It’s “Use By” Date
Unlike other items you buy at the grocery store, veggies don’t always come with an expiration date. So when I come home from shopping, I list out the vegetables I bought and the date they need to be prepared by and post it on my fridge. To come up with the date, I use my food storage list or search Still Tasty.
Every day I look at the list, and if I see an item that’s on the brink of going bad, I either use it for a meal that day or make one of the items in step 3.
3. Use up by the end of the week
Cleaning out the fridge at the end of the week is a “must do.” This is when I can look at my veggie drawer and decide to use something ASAP or make other items to either freeze or eat later. Here are some ideas:
Muffins: I will use extra carrots and zucchini for this recipe, my fave combo being banana and zucchini. Super healthy kids has this Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Recipe that works great too. Make a batch or two and eat them over the weekend or freeze for lunches and snacks.
Veggie soup: I have started using up leftover veggies by making a soup with broth, cooked pasta, and beans. I love the recipe in Rainbow Stew and this one looks good too. The soup can be frozen for later or used over the weekend with sandwiches.
Smoothies: Greens that are about to turn inedible can be frozen for smoothies. Sally over at Real Mom Nutrition dishes on how to do this on her blog:
Puree a few handfuls of spinach or kale in your blender with a splash of water, pour into ice cube trays, then pop out and put into freezer bags. When you’re making a green smoothie, just take one out and toss it in the blender. This is especially useful for greens that are a bit past their prime.
So there you have it, 3 easy ways to use up veggies so they end up in your family’s stomach instead of the trash (or compost). And you know what else? It just feels good to empty out the veggie drawer each week.
How do you keep veggies from going to waste?