Wouldn’t you love to know how to keep produce from going bad?
We’ve all experienced the sad breakup – when you look in your produce drawer and see the wilting broccoli you bought two weeks ago looking sadly up at you.
“You were going to eat me for snacks, remember? I was going to be good for you!”
“But,” you think, “you’re past your snacking prime! And I already have dinner plans that don’t involve you. Tomorrow’s not good either. I don’t know when I’ll get around to eating you.”
You sigh…and if you’re a conflict avoider, you slide the drawer shut to deal with it another day. If you’re a rip-the-Band-Aid-off person, you toss it in the trash right then and there. All your good intentions, all your dreams for your broccoli relationship dashed, and all that good grocery money wasted.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
It is frustrating to see a piece of produce nearing the end of its usable life, knowing that you will not realistically have a chance to eat it before it sees the other side.
Well, I have a solution: catch-alls!
I’ll tell you how it works. Let’s go back to poor Mr. Broccoli. He’s laying there, wanting to be nutritious, but you know he doesn’t have a chance in the next few days. Right then, you place him in your veggie catch-all container. This is a large plastic container or gallon zipper bag full of all of your previous veggie good-intentions-gone-bad. Then they all go in the freezer to commiserate together. Don’t worry about peeling, chopping, dicing, stemming, or anything right now (unless you have time). Just toss the whole darn thing in the bag and put it in the freezer. Keep a separate container for your fruit catch-alls.
Then, when your catch-all bag is full, put a catch-all on your meal plan for the next week. Catch-alls are meals that you can make with just about any combo of frozen fruits or vegetables past their prime, but not yet covered in fur. Here are some examples:
Veggie Catch-alls: stir fries, soups, curries, breakfast scrambles/frittatas
Fruit Catch-alls: smoothies, compotes (just simmer diced fruit in a pot with some cinnamon – add a little water if they aren’t juicy fruits – until it thickens, serve alone or over ice cream!)
Catch-alls make it so that you don’t necessarily have to do anything with the produce the minute you notice it is on the way out. Often, you don’t have time right then to do much about it, but you can take a second to toss it in the freezer. Then, when you use the catch-all, you have an entire meal’s worth of produce that you don’t have to buy!
Here are a couple of tips to make catch-alls work their very best:
- If your catch-all meal requires slicing and dicing, take the catch-all bag out to thaw about 30-40 minutes before you need to prep the produce. You don’t want them totally thawed (they’ll be soft and messy to cut), but you don’t want them frozen solid either.
- There are certain types of produce that work best in certain types of recipes. For example, frozen mushrooms work best when diced small. Greens are best used for green smoothies or for soups after they’ve been frozen (I keep these in a separate container from my veggie catch-all bag for this reason). You’ll learn some of this by trial and error too.
- If you have a second to peel a banana before putting it in your fruit catch-all bag, do it. Trust me on this one. They are much easier to peel before they’ve been frozen.
To get you started, here are a few recipes for good catch-all recipes. You can exchange the produce in the recipe for whatever you have!
Veggie: Red Curry Soup
Give it a try – you won’t regret saving all that money and keeping all that food out of the garbage!