I was in Trader Joe’s the other day and the cashier commented that she and her partner were trying to figure out how to eat more vegetables. She also said that they were on a budget and seemed to throw out a lot of the vegetables they cooked during their weekly meal prep session. I hear this a lot. People throw out a lot of vegetables because they go bad in the fridge.
We all know we have to eat vegetables. At least 30 different plants a week for good gut and immune health. But food waste is also a global problem. Here is an easy restaurant hack to prep your veggies once a week and have them ready for at least seven days.
Let’s talk about your refrigerator first. You need good air flow which means it can’t be stuffed wall to wall. And it needs to be clean. Bacteria growing in the fridge also affects the shelf life of your food. Once a week, wipe it down with a solution of bleach and water (two quarts of water and one bleach cap full of bleach). And make sure your fridge is 41 degrees or lower. I like to keep my fridge at 35 degrees. A warm fridge encourages bacteria and shortens the shelf life of your food. If your fridge does not have a built in thermometer, buy a small refrigerator thermometer and keep it somewhere in the center of your fridge.
For your veggie prep you need a pot, boiling water and tool to fish out your veggies like a spider, slotted spoon or tongs. You will also need a glass baking dish to store your veggies for the week. Make sure the dish fits in the refrigerator vegetable drawer. Something with no lid. I use a glass Pyrex baking dish.
- Clean and cut all of your veggies to the desired size. I like to peel my carrots, trim and cut my Brussels sprouts in half, cut my broccoli into florets, trim my green beans and take the stems off my chard.
- Fill the pot a little over half way with water and heat the water until it is at a rolling boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add one vegetable (like all your broccoli) and let it blanch in the boiling water. 1 minute for softer vegetables and 2 minutes for the harder vegetables.
- Fish out the vegetable and arrange it on the glass baking dish. I like to make a row for each vegetable.
- Now in the same boiling water, add your next vegetable and blanch it for a minute or two depending whether it is a soft or hard vegetable.
- One by one (meaning one type of vegetable at a time) , blanch all your veggies and arrange them in your baking pan.
- Tip – if you are prepping purple carrots, beets or anything with a strong color that will tint the water, do those vegetables last.
- Once you have finished blanching all your vegetables, allow them to cool to the point where they are no longer steaming. Do this on your countertop not in your refrigerator. To cool them more quickly, turn on a fan next to the veggies and allow the cool air to blow over them. Make sure the fan is clean.
- Once your veggies are cool, put the baking dish full of blanched veggies into your vegetable drawer. And you have veggies that will last all week.
You can eat these veggies cold and crunchy. Add them to salads, dip them in hummus or you can cook them further into soup, your favourite dishes or warm them as a side. Because they are only slightly blanched, they can take another heating.
The blanching sanitizes and seals the veggies. This is what allows them to stay fresh longer. I learned this process when I was training as a chef and it works!