Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The path of least resistance... prepping ahead

This isn’t rocket science, but time and time again I am reminded that:
  • My grocery will be much less costly if I shop with a list, and
  • We will eat more fruits and vegetables if they are prepped and ready to simply grab from the fridge or fruit bowl.
I am hopeless when it comes to my first revelation. It’s not that I’m not organized...it’s just that I love food. So if I’m shopping and something looks really fresh and yummy—or quick and interesting—I tend to grab it. Then I come home with what I intended to shop for and the spontaneous purchases and well, sometimes it’s too much.

I’m not going to fight that battle. I am shopping without a list these days. I am choosing what looks fresh and is priced well. If it’s local, even better. No matter what meal I am making, I always get at least one fruit and veggie on the plate. My older child totally gets the “rainbow” concept when it comes to food and likes to count the colors on his plate.

If you spend an extra half hour when you get home from the market, washing and/or slicing your fruits and veggies…and storing them front and center… you will certainly eat them more than if they’re tucked away and need prep before you can enjoy them. This is why “value added” fruits are so appealing—you see the ripe mango or sliced pineapple and think “hmm, that looks yummy”. You can do the same in your fridge.

Right now, to give you some ideas, here’s what I have prepped and ready to go:
  • Strawberries – ½ the box is cut up and sprinkled with a little Turbinado sugar so they’re in with a little syrup for morning pancakes, the other ½ simply has the stems lopped off and are ready for a snack or to pop in a lunchbox;
  • Grapes – washed and torn into small bundles, perfect for the kids to grab as they run outside;
  • Watermelon – this is the one “value added” item I bought this week since I knew we wouldn’t plow through a whole watermelon. I cut it into chunks that I can quickly pop onto the kid’s plates at mealtime or into a lunchbox;
  • Blueberries and blackberries – washed and ready to pop onto pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, or for a snack;
  • Red and yellow peppers – washed and cut into matchsticks for lunches and snacks or quickly chopped to go in scrambled eggs or a salad;
  • Peas - steamed and ready to be inhaled by my older one and flung/catapulted across the kitchen by my little one;
  • Carrots – washed, peeled and cut into matchsticks (or buy a bag of the mini ones);
  • Celery – washed and cut into manageable pieces, ready to quickly become “ants on a log” with cream cheese or peanut butter and raisins;
  • Spinach and Romaine – from our CSA, washed and stored in a damp paper towel;
  • Cucumbers – from our CSA, washed and cut into “cucumber pennies” that the kids like to dip in hummus for snack or lunch;
  • Apples – are washed and out in the fruit bowl on the counter;
  • Bananas – are also out in the fruit bowl on the counter, within easy reach of my kids.

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