When you hear meal planning and meal prep do you find yourself thinking you can never do that?
It’s one of the things I hear the most from friends and family. Some are not sure where to begin or what they should do be preparing.
My recommendation is always to start small. The smallest things can make a difference.
If you aren’t ready for a full weekly meal prep, start small with your vegetables. By selecting the best vegetables for meal prep, you’ll be ready to toss them into stir-fries, made into slaws or used to make salads. You’ll find peeled and cut veggies also are great for snacking during the day.
Meal prep vegetables
One of the most time-consuming parts of cooking any meal can be chopping vegetables. Peeling, deseeding, chopping and the clean up can take forever. If you take the time after shopping to start preparing vegetables ahead of time, it can cut 20-30 minutes out of any meal prep.
Not only can you save time by prepping vegetables once or twice during the week, rather than chopping every time you cook, but you’ll also avoid the extra clean up time.
How to store cut vegetables in the fridge
You’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the proper containers for storage. My current favorites are Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Meal Prep Containers in rectangle and square sizes. You also can shop for them at Dollar Tree, if you have one near you.
Depending on the vegetables, I also will use a zipper storage bag.
How do you store vegetables in the refrigerator
It depends on the vegetable.
When preparing leafy greens such as lettuce, separate, wash and then dry the leaves. Lettuce spinners are the most effective way to remove excess water. Place the dried leaves into a resealable bag, along with a couple of sheets of paper towel to absorb the water, and store in the refrigerator.
Mushrooms do best kept dry like even using a paper bag before putting them into a container, and other vegetables should be stored in a container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Some vegetables last longer than others, which is why you may need to do your vegetable prep two times a week. Harder vegetables, such as carrots, peppers and broccoli florets, typically last through the week, while softer vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers can last about 3 or 4 days.
Once the vegetables are chopped to the desired size and shape, store them in airtight containers in your refrigerator. With the exception of a few vegetables, I don’t wash the vegetables until I’m ready to cook with them. The extra moisture on the vegetables may cause them to go bad faster.
For cilantro and parsley, wrap them in a paper towel before storing in a resealable bag. They should last a week or more in the refrigerator.
Having prepared vegetables at your fingertips will cut your dinner preparation time in half, and may even inspire you to include more vegetables in your meals.
Tips for cleaning your vegetables
Cleaning your produce is pretty simple.
You’ll want to avoid washing most fruits and veggies until you’re ready to use them. The exception to that rule is greens that you wash and dry before you store with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and extra-dirty potatoes, squash or other root vegetables that you use a paper towel to clean.
For everything else, right before using, rinse with cool water and dry thoroughly, especially if you’ll be adding oil directly to the veggies for roasting.
Eat and enjoy
You’ll develop your own routine after you do it a few times. Enjoy your meals and less time you have to spend in the kitchen.
What other tips do you have?