The Great Vegetable Challenge, Part 2

Did you eat all your vegetables this week?

We have gone to the farmer’s market and bought some great looking veggies. Or got them from our favorite farmer, or grew them ourselves. (If you grow them, you will eat them!) We had great intentions to use them all, but we didn’t quite get to them. Some, if not many of those delicious vegetables are still sitting at the bottom of the vegetable bin. Should we throw them out? We hate to waste them, but now they just don’t appeal to us as much as they did in the store.

Help! I hate to waste all the veggies I don’t eat!

Ok, don’t panic. I know the problem, but you can have a plan. Do this on a day that you have a bit of time, but it doesn’t take too much time, so don’t panic.

The benefits are that when you are done, you will not feel like you wasted your vegetables, you will have some food tucked away for meals, and some in the freezer. It is a win, win, win project.

Step One: Take stock

First of all, take out all of the vegetables (and fruit, too) you have in your refrigerator. Put them all on the counter and look at it all at once. What goes together? What is too old to use? What can just be chopped up and thrown into a lunch? (carrots and celery?)

Are there things that you don’t really even like? Don’t panic, we have ideas for that, too.

Throw out all the bad or damaged produce, but not the things that are just a bit old.

Step Two: Chop Chop

Yes, you got it. Chop it all up. If there are things you love to have handy, put them in small containers and put them in the fridge; after you have chopped them up.

Now chop up those squashes, those extra tomatoes, the celery, the carrots, the bell peppers, onions…even eggplant and tomatillos, and especially the greens (but not lettuce). Chop it all into a size you would use for a soup or stir fry.

Step Three: Get out a big pot

It helps a lot if you have onions and garlic. What doesn’t go well with onions and garlic, unless of course you don’t like them, then just don’t use them.

You are going to make:

Step Four: Vegetable Medley

Throw some butter or coconut oil in the bottom of the pot. Heat it up. Now, throw all those chopped vegetables (not the fruit) into the pot. Yep, all of them (unless you have a use for some of the ones you chopped). Basically, you are going to start with a giant stir fry. It will look too big to do anything with, but don’t worry. Sometimes I add some frozen corn (the fresh corn around here isn’t organic.)

Put a lid on the pot and cook at medium low for about an hour. The idea is to cook all the vegetables to about 3/4 cooked. It takes a long time because there may be a lot of vegetables. If not, cook for less time.

After about an hour, add some salt and pepper to taste. Now you have your choice. You either have vegetables merely for the week, or some to freeze, or both. So decide how much you may eat this week, and freeze the rest.

Step Five: Package it all up

Now you have your choice. You can package these vegetables in small containers for the week. Then you can just heat them up for a meal, and season according to the meal. You can add tamari for a stir fry over rice; you can add cumin and add to a curry. You can heat them with beans and rice for a Mexican flavor. You can add your favorite spices and top a potato, or just have as a side to a meat. Vegetables for the week, already prepared.

What you don’t want to do that with, just put into a freezer container and freeze. Admittedly, you need freezer space for this. Now you have vegetables for the winter, when you want to make a soup, or a stir fry. You are ready, and have not wasted those vegetables.

On top of all of that, you know what to buy in the future, because you know what you may want to use in that medley.

Also, if you empty out that bin every week, you know everything you have in there is fresh. You will also have that excuse to go to the farmers market each week, or buy fresh veggies at the store.

These are just a few ideas to get you going. Summer and fall are fantastic times to freeze vegetables for soups in the winter. They are great times to enjoy the items that are plentiful at these times. We have gone from the fresh greens of spring, to the summer harvest of cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini. Soon fall will be here with an assortment of pumpkins and squashes, late tomatoes and peppers, cabbage, kale and even apples.

There is no reason to get tired of the same thing all the time, because nature provides change with the seasons. Follow those changes. Eat your strawberries when they are in season. Enjoy your apples and peaches when they are ripe.

If you have great seasonal recipes, feel free to tell share them with our community on my Facebook Page.

To Your Health!

Patti Bealer