Saturday, July 25, 2015

Vegetables for Less (and some fruits we use like vegetables)

When doing once a month grocery shopping you have to recognize that your fresh vegetables that you buy at the store are not going to last the whole month before going bad. I advocate a mixture of mostly fresh and frozen veggies with a few cans in there. I am sure some of you have noticed how few veggies it seems like I have on our shopping lists and there are reasons for that (I buy bulk so it is a one item on the list, free veggies from friends gardens, frozen veggies, and a pantry full of food storage canned veggies).
But this is a great time to talk about some ways to get lots of fresh affordable veggies. And when I say veggies I am not using the scientific definition. Instead I'm referring to non-sweet mostly green and yellow foods that we use like vegetables and like sweet snack worthy fruits.
  1. Buy the ones on sale. Don't get hung up on that your family loves to eat asparagus or some other not on sale vegetable. Buy the ones on sale, learn to eat them and learn to like them. I have found that I like (or can easily eat) almost any vegetable when made up in a good way. Don't be picky or snob.
  2. Grow a Garden- Yes this take time and money to get started. But it can be done cheaply. I have tried many times, to grow nothing. But this year we did have a tomato plant, it has supplied all the tomatoes we have needed this summer. I bought it from a nursery that was closing back in April. We figure it has saved us a little on buying tomatoes, with the added benefit of the super fresh tasty tomato. Also everyone keeps telling me to put it in my garage for the winter and it should survive the winter just fine. So even little garden things can help eat fresh cheaper.
  3. Garden Extras- Lots of people where we live have gardens. We have lots of friends who have choose to follow the commandments for our church leaders to "grow a garden". Funny thing most of them plant things that they don't eat much of themselves. Keep your ears open for when people are giving away their garden extras. Sometimes it is because they don't like to eat what they grew but sometimes it is because their gardens were so plentiful that they can't eat it all in time. Also, when people talk about how plentiful their gardens are, don't be afraid to say "if you find you can't use it all, send some our way". We have ended up with many bags of random veggies on our porch from friends wanting to share before things go bad. You'll have to be open to which veggies you get. Again try new foods
  4. Bountiful baskets, Market on the Move, Coops... there are many groups all over that take 2nd grade veggies (ones that are good to eat but not pretty enough to go to the grocery stores), they often have a "cover" price and then you get bags full of veggies. Ask around groups are out there. Many are sponsored by church groups. If there isn't any in your area, maybe look into starting one. Ask around and find out what interest there would be. Start a facebook group. Contact organization groups like Bountiful baskets and find out what you'd need to go to start a local group. Talk to a local Farmer's coop and see if they would be interested and able to participate.
Now that you have fresh veggies (which most of the time turns out to be some sort of squash- if you got it for free) What do you do with it?

here is a list of generic ideas:
  • search pinterest - lots of ideas for unique veggies
  • baked/fried with a breaded crust
  • chop up small and put into pasta. I have found my family will eat ANY veggie (and I actually enjoy it too) chopped up with other mixed veggies and put into pasta sauce. This is my go to stand by for when I don't know what to a given veggie. Make pastas different by adding different things every time.
  • On top of Pizza- when we went to Italy there were all sorts of veggies (mostly squashes) topped on the pizza- and they were so good. Go out of your comfort zone. My kids don't notice- its pizza.
  • Stir Fry- again chop it small, when you chop large you get big tastes of it and kids are more likely to pick around large veggies in their food
  • Bolgolgi- Korean bbq stir fry, same idea, add what you have.
  • Skillet- sometimes known as hash. Get your potatoes going and add whatever veggies you have with a little bit of whatever meat you have. 
  • Stew it- or soup it. Simmer it all together add a little tomato sauce to the stewing broth. 
  • Lasagna- or a baked pasta. layer it with the meat layers, for a healthier and cheaper versions, use 1/2 the meat you'd normally use and fill the space with veggies. I lightly steam the veggie first and you will need to be careful not to add anymore extra water on the steamed veggies, you'll end up with a soup at the bottom of the lasagna pan. Or take a note from the Greeks and make Moussaka- a veggie and meat layered lasagna-like dish.
  • Orzo, Rizzoto, pilaf  - I find it best if you chop the veggies about the size of the orzo or rice. make how you would normally and add in the veggies. Sauteing the veggies first can add more flavor.
  • experiment

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