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Veggie storage/use idea

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Puffin3 Feb 7, 2014 08:37 AM

Something I've done for a year or so to make sure I'm using up all the vegg.
In the crisper I keep one large plastic liquor store bag with all the vegg I use on a daily bases. Not potatoes or frozen peas. Just the veg I would always keep in the crisper.
I'm usually cooking for just the two of us.
In the bag I always have: A bell pepper/some scallions which I wrap separate in plastic wrap/a few mushrooms in a paper bag/a sweet onion/a couple of carrots/some fresh parsley and or cilantro/couple of celery sticks/maybe some bean sprouts in a separate paper bag/maybe some snow peas.
The key is to have a bunch of vegg on hand but only in small amounts. I let the grocery store look after my vegg until I need them.
I like to cook Mediterranean mostly so the vegg I have on hand lends itself to that sort of food. The vegg is also ready to be used in a quick stir fry.
The key point is by keeping all my vegg in one bag I am taking all of it out of the fridge everyday and noticing what' vegg I ought to be using up. "Those mushrooms need to be cooked tonight". Then I write on my next day shopping list the vegg I need to replace.
It's sort of neat to open the bag on the counter and see a cornucopia of different vegg ready to go. Gets the creative juices flowing too.
Storing and using my vegg this way helps me to stop making such large amounts. It took some self discipline to say to myself: "remember you only need half that yellow pepper and three mushrooms and two small carrots etc. It really cut down on the amount of food I always had left-over that did end up in the garbage sometimes. If I find I can't get all the vegg in the bag in the crisper I know I'm buying too much volume.
This approach works for me. Maybe if you are cooking for just one or two you may find this info useful.

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  1. Bada Bing Feb 7, 2014 09:23 AM

    Interesting idea. I do wish I wasted less veggies from lack of organization.

    1. fldhkybnva Feb 7, 2014 09:45 AM

      I like the idea, sort of. Isn't this the same as just looking in the drawer?

      6 Replies
      1. re: fldhkybnva
        p
        Puffin3 Feb 7, 2014 11:47 AM

        Not really. It's the same thing as removing the drawer and putting it on the counter and removing everything every day.
        Buying five pounds of carrots and a whole head of celery and a pound of mushrooms etc fills up the bottom of the fridge but how many of us (single or couple households are going to eat all those vegg before some of it starts going bad?
        I actually got the inspiration from watching chefs on cooking shows. They all had their 'mise' in place before starting the dish. I thought "why don't I only have enough vegg to make a dish or two at a time?"
        Here's my basic daily vegg ingredients:
        I do have the luxury of making my daily trip to the market. But that's what millions of people do all over the world. Buy what's fresh today to eat today.

         
        1. re: Puffin3
          fldhkybnva Feb 7, 2014 12:18 PM

          I think you have a bigger fridge than me :) I will admit I keep a spreadsheet with vegetables in the house listed in order of purchase with longer lasting vegetables like sprouts and cabbage on a separate list so perhaps a similar idea.

          1. re: fldhkybnva
            p
            Puffin3 Feb 7, 2014 12:34 PM

            My fridge is actually a small one. The crispers are only about ten inches wide.
            Having a spreadsheet seems a bit......annal IMO. LOL No offense.
            It's easier to actually see what the condition of the veg is in every day.

            1. re: Puffin3
              fldhkybnva Feb 7, 2014 01:08 PM

              Call me anal, I don't mind and won't argue. I am pretty type A. I don't have access to my fridge drawer at work when I have down time which I use to plan meals.

          2. re: Puffin3
            l
            lagatta Feb 10, 2014 07:55 AM

            I also shop daily or almost. Hell, that is one of the main reasons I moved to my neighbourhood! (Petite-Italie, Montréal, near the Jean-Talon Market).

            The other was the proximity of two métro lines, one of which took me to Université de Montréal, where I was doing graduate studies, in 10 minutes...

            1. re: lagatta
              TorontoJo Feb 10, 2014 08:49 AM

              UGH! I'm so jealous that you live close to Jean-Talon Market. So. VERY. Jealous. I have no idea how the vendors there get such gorgeous produce. It's like every last pea has been hand polished. Did I mention jealous?

        2. greygarious Feb 7, 2014 12:11 PM

          <Buying five pounds of carrots and a whole head of celery and a pound of mushrooms etc fills up the bottom of the fridge but how many of us (single or couple households are going to eat all those vegg before some of it starts going bad?>

          I cook just for myself and do not have a problem using up such amounts. I know that carrots will be fine for weeks but that I'll need to trim the botton of the celery bunch and stand it in a covered "vase" of water in the fridge, and that I'll need to sautee and freeze the shrooms within a few days. It generally costs less to buy packaged veg than loose by the pound. The only thing that tends to get away from me is a cucumber - and I can't buy a halved one.

          I shop according to season and sales so your system would be too restrictive for me. But I do like the idea of lining the fridge drawers with a plastic bag so everything comes out at once and can be given a quick once-over.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious
            p
            Puffin3 Feb 7, 2014 12:30 PM

            Thanks for that. Ya being able to remove all the produce each time does help keep an eye on how different veg is keeping...or not.
            I too certainly shop/eat seasonally. I do try to buy veg locally grown in green houses like mushrooms/peppers/cucs during the winter.
            I fall down sometimes and succumb to asparagus etc from Chili/Mexico etc.
            Not so much lately. The produce is tasteless anyway.

          2. l
            lagatta Feb 10, 2014 07:54 AM

            I've found Puffin's thread on the topic of vegetables and avoiding waste. Indeed it is useful. I'm fortunate is that I do have some shops where I can just buy one or two red peppers, etc (and I'd never waste a small container of mushrooms, as I love them). The problem is that many groceries only sell by the kg or lb, packaged.

            I have a small fridge too. Only 10 (or is it 12?) cubic ft. I was thrilled to find one with a decent-sized freezer. Before I only had a countertop bar-type fridge - I was fine with the even smaller size, but really needed a decent freezer compartment.

            1. herby Feb 10, 2014 08:08 AM

              Thank you for sharing, Puffin3! Great idea and very helpful. As a household of one I constantly struggle with veggies, making sure to use all up before buying more. Yesterday I took veg/fruit drawers out of the fridge to tidy and inspect. Made a salad and now have an odd assortment - not sure what to do with it. I have three long eggplants, 1/2 green pepper, sweet potato, and various herbs in addition to the usual onions, shallots, garlic. Any suggestions?

              5 Replies
              1. re: herby
                jadec Feb 10, 2014 08:19 AM

                Eggplant, pepper and sweet potato = Thai curry

                1. re: jadec
                  herby Feb 10, 2014 08:21 AM

                  Absolutely! and I love Thai. Thank you, Jadec!

                  ETA: found this recipe: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/S... and will give it a try tomorrow.

                  1. re: herby
                    greygarious Feb 10, 2014 10:44 AM

                    Hold back a bit of each veg: dice, oil, and either roast or saute. Then puree and freeze. This is what Paul Prudhomme does as a base/thickener for his turducken gravy. I keep some on hand for whenever I am making gravy for roast chicken or pork. Be sure to label it - you'll NEVER know what it is otherwise. Don't ask me how I know.

                    1. re: greygarious
                      herby Feb 10, 2014 12:02 PM

                      Thank you, Grey! I label everything that goes into the freezer and into most pantry jars unless it is obvious.

                      Does it matter which veg? Do you puree the mixture or individually?

                      1. re: herby
                        greygarious Feb 10, 2014 01:12 PM

                        Mash/puree once the veg are all cooked. Google Prudhomme turducken and you'll get a link to the part that includes the gravy base. The eggplant and sweet potato supply body to gravy, in place of a roux, but my personal opinion is that the other vegetable components in the base could vary according to your whim and what's on hand.

              2. melpy Feb 10, 2014 09:03 AM

                I keep almost nothing on hand except the following:

                carrots (if the bag is less than half I buy a new one)
                celery
                frozen peas
                frozen corn
                a sweet onion
                garlic

                Pretty much everything else I buy as I need it and then I have to make recipes that use up whatever quantity the store forces you to buy.

                In CSA season I'm stuck with whatever they give you.

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