Meal prepping with produce is a great way to save time and eat healthier throughout the week. Here are some meal prep tips specifically for working with fruits and vegetables:
Plan Your Meals:
Start by planning your meals for the week. Think about the dishes you want to prepare and make a list of the fruits and vegetables you’ll need.
Choose Fresh, Seasonal Produce:
Opt for fresh, seasonal produce as it tends to be more flavorful and less expensive.
Wash and Dry:
Before storing or prepping, wash all your produce thoroughly under cold running water. Use a vegetable brush for items with thicker skin like potatoes and cucumbers. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to prevent moisture-induced spoilage.
Invest in Quality Storage Containers:
Invest in good quality airtight containers and reusable bags to store your prepped produce. Mason jars, glass containers, and BPA-free plastic containers are excellent options.
Pre-Cut and Slice:
Cut, chop, and slice your fruits and vegetables in advance to save time during the week. Just be mindful that some items like avocados and apples may brown when exposed to air, so consider using lemon juice or an ascorbic acid solution to prevent oxidation.
Blanching and Par-Cooking:
For vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans, blanching them briefly in boiling water and then immediately placing them in ice water can help retain their color, flavor, and texture. Par-cooking certain vegetables can also make them easier to use in various recipes.
Store prepped produce in portion-sized containers or bags. This makes it easier to grab the right amount for your recipes and helps prevent food waste.
Use Produce Saver Products:
Consider using produce saver products like ethylene-absorbing packets, produce storage containers, and produce storage bags to extend the freshness of your fruits and vegetables.
Label and Date:
Label your containers with the type of produce and the date it was prepped. This helps you keep track of freshness and prevents items from going bad unnoticed.
If you have excess produce that you can’t use up quickly, consider blanching or sautéing them lightly before freezing. This way, you can have frozen vegetables ready for stir-fries, soups, and other dishes.
Rotate Your Stock:
When meal prepping, be sure to use the older produce before the newer items to reduce food waste.
Be creative with your meal prep. You can make smoothie packs with frozen fruit and veggies, prepare salad jars with layers of ingredients, or make veggie sticks with pre-made dips for quick snacks.
Don’t forget to compost any vegetable scraps, peels, and trimmings to minimize food waste and reduce your environmental footprint.
By following these meal prep tips for produce, you can save time, reduce food waste, and make it easier to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your daily meals.