It’s practically impossible to maintain a healthful diet without planning. Before I started The Fresh 20, I wasted pounds and pounds of farmer’s market bounty because I didn’t plan to eat; I only planned to stock the fridge.
If standing in front of the fridge with a blank stare on your face sounds faintly familiar, you are not alone. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep on track, cook fresh food and eliminate produce waste.
1. Create a plan
Half the battle of using fresh ingredients is knowing what’s on the menu. For me, the biggest pitfall is ambiguity. I’m much more likely to stray to take out food if there is nothing on the calendar. A simple weekly, meal plan worksheet is often the only motivation needed to stay on track and successful with your October Unprocessed pledge. Here’s The Fresh 20’s easy meal plan worksheet. [PDF]
2. Limit ingredients
Instead of having a vegetable drawer full of too many vegetables, decide on a few that you will prepare several different ways. Keeping it simple on the shopping list encourages a more efficient use of produce and in most cases eliminates waste. Add Monday’s roasted broccoli to Wednesdays stir fry or roast carrots once to use in two meals.
3. Sunday prep
A half-hour on Sunday to prepare basic ingredients for the week can save time on busy days. Roast meat, cook brown rice, chop vegetables.
4. Portion control
Part of effective meal planning is portion control. Here are four tricks that help keep the size of dinner in check!
- No serving dishes on the table. It only encourages over eating.
- No seconds. I know, sometimes you want to lick the serving dish. Try to refrain from loading up on seconds. Give it ten minutes. If you really want more, limit it to a couple of spoonfuls and not another whole plate.
- Use smaller plates. Try 9” dinner plates.
- Remember, ratio counts! Plan out meals using good vegetable-meat-starch-fat ratios.
My biggest challenge with staying true to October Unprocessed is planning for cravings. As the weather starts to chill, my desire for warm, oven baked treats increases. This simple dessert satisfies my sweet tooth and doesn’t break any rules. Enjoy!
Heartwarming Crustless Pie
This simple dessert satisfies my sweet tooth and doesn’t break any rules of October Unprocessed. Enjoy!
- 3 tbsp Raw Honey
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 Nectarines sliced into thin wedges
- 2 Plums sliced into thin wedges
- 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries unsweetened or fruit-juice sweetened
- 1/3 cup Blueberries
- 4-5 fresh Mint Leaves shredded for garnish
In a medium sauté pan, bring water to simmer. Whisk in honey until well combined. Pour in nectarines and plums and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 6-7 minutes. The liquid should turn thick, almost syrup like in texture.
Remove from heat. Stir in cranberries. Gently fold in blueberries.
Transfer to glass pie pan or serving dish making sure to drizzle any remaining liquid over top.
Sprinkle with mint leaves. Serve warm.
For added comfort, top with a generous dollop of Greek style yogurt. Enjoy!
About the Author
Melissa Lanz is currently getting bossy about dinner. As the author and Founder of The Fresh 20, Melissa understands that the path to health and happiness runs through the kitchen. Her healthful meal plans have helped over 150,000 families get wholesome food on the table.
You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
There are several different types of air removal machines. You can find them even at WalMart, I think they carry Seal a Meal there. It’s easy, fast and inexpensive. It’s great to have options for whatever your budget and busy schedule can handle!
I like your suggestions.
We are a two person household. Therefore I know the waste problem very well.
Cooking pumpking qiche, sauerkraut strudel or Brussels sprout pudding takes some time. It`s delicious, but at the third day, you`re fed.
So my daughter and I invite friends for cooking, or get invited.
The work is done much faster, brings fun and finally there is no waste.
Another way of using remains of vegetables could be soup.
4-5 potatoes, 1 onion can be combined with all kinds of other vegetables, for pumpkin soup, cauliflower soup, peas soup, carrots soup… Our immersion blender even helps us with the weed control in our garden. In spring time we often have goutweed or stining nettle soup (tastes like spinach, just better). Don`t weed it, eat it.
Andrea, everything works out when you share with friends. I like the idea of dinner swap. One night a week you and a friend cook double portions and pack up the extra for the other family. Cuts down on cooking time and adds excitement to the weekly meal plan!
This is a brilliant post and timely too! I had just arrived at that frustrated point where I was tired of throwing away money on produce that I couldn’t prepare before it expired!
Great advice on portions too, I do tend to lick the platter….
Thanks so much!
Liz-thank you. I’ll admit, my kitchen is organized but my office is a mess!
Renee- I know, I hate it when produce goes to waste. We usually have a Saturday salad or pasta where we throw any ripe, leftover veggies together and then cut up all the fruit for Saturday snacks. This allows us to be ready for Sunday’s farmers market. I also try to pay attention to what we are not eating through and adjust the list. Right now, bananas don’t seem to be a hit, so I’ll wait a couple of weeks before buying them again. It’s like my own little supply and demand system for my family.
Awestruck by your organizational skills!
The crustless pie recipe is nice.
When I am craving a treat I mix local honey in with berries (or chopped home canned peaches in the winter) & almonds, and then mix into a cup of fat free greek yogurt. This way I have a desert, with a nice amount of protein as a side bonus.
I add Greek yogurt to everything. My kids think it is sour cream and they get the added protein boast with nutritional benefits. As an alternative to home canned peaches, have you tried freezing them? I cut mine into wedges, dry them out in the oven a bit and then freeze them for winter use. Great in smoothies.
I know quite a few people who freeze peaches, but they do take up quite a bit of room in the freezer. Canning them lets me put up enough to last all winter. And they are wonderful in baking and over various things.
Since I’m a canner and jammer, it fits right in with what I’m already doing. This weekend will include Blackberry Habanero jam and Tart Cherry butter.
I love your grocery shopping list! Definetly will create menus and a shopping list. I gave up kitchen waste a while back when I started using my food saver machine. It is such a help when I get a basket of fruit or veggies that I can’t use up immediately!
I’ll have to check the food saver machine. I have never used one. Sounds interesting.
I make a topping for fresh berries by throwing some nuts like pecans or almonds in the food processor with dried dates and then topping the berries with it and drizzle with honey. You could add some of the nut/date mixture to top this off for a little texture. Yum!
Great idea! I think hazelnuts would be an amazing addition to this treat.
oooo! Hazelnuts would be awesome!