Friday, November 05, 2010

When Good Veggies Go Bad

It's like a horror movie where some dumb blonde just can't resist going into the dark room even though the freaky music is playing and your fingernails are permanently glued to the arms of your seat. You KNOW what's going to happen. That's how it used to be with my refrigerator when I thought about opening the produce drawer. You know what I mean. Scary creepy moldy slimy freaky Vegetables Gone Bad. You bought them with the best of intentions. They were healthful, vibrant, full of nutrients. They started looking a little wilty and you thought "we really should have some broccoli tonight", but you didn't have the time to cut it up because Tommy's Little League uniform got muddy and Susie couldn't find her pointe shoes for ballet. So the broccoli sat another day. And got meanier and uglier and slimier. Until one day you open the drawer and scream like the dumb blonde in the movie when surprise! the guy with the hockey mask and the freaky dagger hands jumps out to kill her after all.

I used to wonder why the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator was called a "crisper" when what it seemed to do was ensure that my veggies turned into a soupy mess. But fortunately, the freaky slime-vegetable syndrome can be avoided with some proper planning and prep work.I discovered that the key to actually eating my veggies instead of feeling guilty every time I opened my fridge drawer to another slimy glop of former salad is to make them into useful meal-fodder as soon as I buy them. This takes a little bit of time when you get home from the grocery store, but saves time, money, and the disgusting chore of cleaning out the goopy vegetable drawers.

What I do now is plan to go grocery shopping when I'll have about twenty minutes afterward for food prep (no rushing home, throwing everything in the cupboards and fridge and dashing back out again. Then as soon as the vegetables come out of the grocery bags, I wash them and put them on dish towels to dry. After patting them off, I slice or dice them into whatever form I'm actually going to use them in. This means that onions, green peppers, and zucchinis get diced up for use in omelettes, stir-fries, and burritos. Red peppers are in long slices that the kids like to dip in hummus. Carrots get sliced into sticks. Yes yes, I know you can actually buy bagged baby carrots, but I think real carrots taste way better and they last a heck of a lot longer. Plus, the baby carrots only have 70% of the beta carotene of regular carrots. And just for fun every year (and because my kids will eat way more of them) I grow purple carrots in our garden. They're gorgeous!

I also discovered that container shape matters. You might think that whether a container is round or square has no bearing whatsoever on how many vegetables you'll eat out of it. But I found that round containers don't stack as well, take up more space in the fridge, and tend to get pushed toward the back of a shelf where the contents turn evil. Square containers stack nicely, and use space much more efficiently. That means they tend to stay toward the front of the shelves where I use them frequently. I really like these Snapware Glasslock containers that I just happened to pick up one day at Costco.

You still have to eat the vegetables within a reasonable time frame of course. They will eventually go bad, even in glasslock containers. But because they're already pre-prepped, you're so much likely to just throw them into breakfast, lunch or dinner when you're in a rush. You can easily build a salad, an omelette, or a skillet meal in 5 minutes or less when you have your vegetables under control. Side bonus is you actually eat better and save money by not throwing out expensive produce.

The Ironmom Extra Mile: More than you knew about baby carrots here at


Jason said...

Great post. I just found some of those 'slimy' mushrooms yesterday when I was preparing fish tacos for dinner.

Need to print this post out and tape it to the fridge door so when I go grocery shopping I don't forget.

I also have a recipe for black bean hummus on my blog if your kids are willing to give it a try.

Here is the URL:

Robin said...

Great recipe Jason, I love your Athlete's Plate postings. I think I might have to have fish tacos tonight. Yum!

Jason said...

Awesome. Let me know how they turn out and send pics. Would love to post pics of the meals people make using the Athlete's Plate.

Don't forget that I issued a challenge to the readers to give me an ingredient, theme whatever to have an Athlete's Plate revolve around.

Denis Oakley said...

That is so cool. I am inspired.

I'll try it and see if my diet improves.