Meal Prepping


Our weekly organic veg box arrived earlier this week. I haven’t been meal planning lately and have been wasting a lot of food as a result. It makes me cringe each and every time I find some godawful thing at the back of the fridge that was a vegetable in a previous life. We updated our budget recently and I am on a mission not to waste anything (not just for the sake of the budget, but also because it is just plain terrible to waste food!). I’ve also gone through my (makeshift) pantry (I don’t have a real one…) and have discovered all sorts of things like quinoa, dried chickpeas and adzuki beans, falafel mix, dried shitake mushrooms, among other bits and pieces.

When I’m on a mission (and have the time) there are a few key things I like to do when our veg box arrives to get things sorted and minimise waste. So the other night, when most of my brain was voting for me to go to bed with my laptop to watch Outlander, I:

:: chopped up a giant bunch of silverbeet and another giant bunch of spinach and washed it all thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. I blanched it until bright green then froze in portion-sized batches to use in soups, curries, stir-fries; as you would use any other frozen vegetable.

:: popped a fresh bunch of coriander in a jar of water in my fridge.

:: chopped up an abundance of sweet potatoes and potatoes into little bite size pieces and roasted them with a few dregs of mixed spices (rosemary, oregano, thyme) plus a squeeze of fresh lemon (finally got through them all!) and some salt and pepper. I divvied them up into a container for my lunch at work, a container in the fridge for snacking on or eating with lunches, and also threw some on top of our bowls of spaghetti. I’ve still got a lot more, I will roast some whole to eat with salad and kim chi for lunch, and make some into a mash to have with… something…

:: cleaned out the crisper and neatly arranged all the other produce in a way that was visually pleasing. Ok, so I just wiped it out and then plonked the new veggies in… but that didn’t sound as good.

Yesterday I pushed on and made another orange blossom cake (we have so many oranges suddenly!) for afternoon teas this week… unfortunately, as it is cooked with almond meal, I can’t send it to school or kinder due to nut policies. OH, and as a precursor to this I made my own almond/flaxseed meal, making sure to add a little extra in order to have some leftover to sprinkle on morning oats. It is always best to prepare this fresh yourself, if possible, as it goes rancid very quickly.

I also cooked up some of the dried adzuki beans I’d found in my cupboard. I set aside some for the vegetarian pasta sauce Bird and I ate for dinner last night (meat sauce for the other three), I froze some in batches, and lastly made an adzuki bean hommus which I personally thought was italics worthy delicious. Unfortunately, the girls italics hated it, the baby even went so far as to burst into tears after I spooned a taste lovingly into her mouth. Bird turned to me and said, “What we’re trying to say is, it’s a bit strong tasting.” Enough said, I will, without complaint, proceed to eat the entire batch on my own… with corn chips, preferably.

Last but not least I used all the stalks and roots of the spinach and other leftover veggies from last week to make a vegetable stock paste. Hashtag, no waste!

I have to say, I’m super impressed with my efforts. It does take time and energy to eat wholefoods and prepare things from scratch. I don’t always have the time, or the inclination. But when I get on a roll, it is very satisfying. I find the most important things to do are to get the big leafy greens into some form that makes it easier for me to grab and eat, as these tend to be the veggies I pretend to ignore when I open my fridge (so much effort, not my favourite to eat, but so so good for our bodies). Blanching and freezing works best for us. I also find herbs keep longer if you pop them in a jar of water. Other than that, chopping and having things ready to use helps as well. I’m sure you all have many tricks of your own, feel free to share in the comments, I’m always interested to hear how others manage their food.

lemonade… made with REAL lemons!

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Wow. Great. Amazing!

Really?

I saw this sign on our way home yesterday on the freeway. A photo of a lemonade bottle with the aforementioned slogan. At first I didn’t think anything of it, and just continued on my way. Then my mind did a double take. Lemonade, made with real lemons? We are supposed to be excited about this? Amazed and enthralled? Scuttle on out quick sticks buy a bottle and guzzle it down? The more I thought about it, the more I felt like it was a slogan from some futuristic show.

Over the past few years I have been changing and tweaking our diets ever so slowly. I’ve done a lot of reading, researching, trial and error. We have been vegetarians, but are no longer. We have eaten non-organic, organic, bio-dynamic. We have tried to grow our own food. We have bought from the big guys as well as locally. The changes we have made have been so gradual that I haven’t really noticed the difference. However we are now eating mainly organic foods, and have learnt a lot more about natural, whole foods.

REAL food.

I try to stick to foods that have been minimally processed, and have ingredients I can read on the label (if there happens to be one!)

Seeing this sign made me realise how accustomed we have become to eating foods that are manufactured, foods that are not real. My guess is the real lemons that make up this lemonade are many steps back in the production line. I would be interested to see.

But not interested enough to buy a bottle of it.

for the love of cabbage

We get a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box from a fairly well known online fresh food delivery company. We were getting the family box but dropped back down to the couple’s box a while ago and we bulk it up with fruit and veg bought locally. I’ve been really happy with the service. And the price. And the quality, most of the time. Everything was going along just peachy.

Enter: The Cabbage.

That’s a big cabbage, right? That damn cabbage has been appearing in our couple’s box about every fortnight for over a month now. At one point I had two and a half of these babies gawking at me every time I opened my fridge. So I gawked back. And left them there. What a waste! And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think cabbage is even in season in Australia right now? I’m confused. I’m pretty upset. Ok, I’m downright angry!

So I ring this popular company and have a chat. I’m Lucy, and Lucy answered the phone. So things were friendly from the get-go. I said to Lucy: “Seriously Lucy, it’s a couple’s box. What are two people supposed to do with a basketball sized cabbage?” Lucy had a laugh. I asked her what would happen if I said I was seriously allergic to cabbage. She said I’d have to opt out of the box and pick my fruit and veg singly. Damnit Lucy! She said she’d get my driver to give me a call so we could talk about it. It’s been almost a week and I haven’t heard a thing.

On my to-do list tomorrow is to check out some other options in the way of organic fruit and vegetable delivery. I was starting to feel a bit like this company is kinda big enough to almost be like Coles or Woolworths in costume anyway.

Do you have a great, affordable, friendly, strong-aversion-to-cabbage, family-run organic business in Melbourne? Do you want a new customer? Gimme your best sales pitch! I’m all ears!

And/or do you have a really awesome recipe involving cabbage that you want to share with me?

Food, Food, Glorious Food

But where does it come from?

This is the question that has been burning in my mind for a long time now.

It’s been around 10 months since Baby tasted her first mouthful of food other than breastmilk. The responsibility to feed and nourish a baby, well, it’s been one of the biggest challenges. A fun challenge, but a challenge that has certainly taught me a lot about the food that all of us, Prince Charming and I included, eat. I was always suspicious of packaged food, and the more I have been spooning home cooked food into my baby’s little rosebud mouth, the more I have wanted to know more about each ingredient, each place where the food is made, each animal that has died to be on her plate.

I’m quite sure most of my family and my mother think I am mad. What is wrong with a little piece of chocolate here, a little bit of drugged chicken there, a few teeny tiny preservatives, colours, flavours? I mean, we all ate it when we were kids, and we turned out fine… right?

The more I read about the food industry, the more I realise just how much it has changed over my lifetime. According to many, food production has changed more in the last 50 years than in the last 10,000. Isn’t that just unbelievable?

There have been a few very recent things that I have seen and read that have sparked the issue of food and my relationship with it…

This episode of Australian show Four Corners exposed the treatment of cattle exported from Australia to Indonesia. It featured horrific images of this live cattle trade. This was a turning point for me. I was a vegetarian for a little while prior to getting pregnant. When I was pregnant, being my first pregnancy, when my mum convinced me to eat some meat I did, and have been eating meat ever since. It’s not something I regret. But I realise now it’s just a habit.

A few days later I watched this documentary called HOME, the link to which I found here. It was a real eye opener as to how we humans have removed ourselves from the delicate lifecycle that is Earth. It also showed that because we eat SO MUCH meat and the demand is so high – over 50% of the world’s grains are fed to cattle! Common sense tells me this just isn’t healthy for anyone involved.

Then just the other day I read this article that was featured on Freshly Pressed, reviewing Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which I just happen to have on hold at the library.

The issues of globalisation, factory farming, mass production, global warming… they are all swimming around my mind and I don’t quite know how to process it or what to do with all this information.

image from green bristol

One of the things I have decided to do is to stop eating meat. Despite the cliche, it really was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. That is how I knew it was the right decision for me, at this time. Prince Charming has also jumped on the band wagon. It’s really nice to be doing something like this together. We are still eating fish once a week, but using the Sustainable Seafood website to make better decisions about which fish we select.

Another is to put more effort into our veggie garden. We are not the best gardeners around, and we did promise ourselves we’d fix our patch and put a winter veggie garden in but we have been sick and have not got around to it. Any veggie gardeners out there – is it too late in this crisp Melbourne winter to start? I have to find out and get onto this!

We will continue to use real, whole foods as the bulk of our diet.

I will go back to sourcing more organic foods and making it a priority in our budget to do this as much as possible. As Baby got older I became more blasé about it. It’s time to tighten the reins!

The last thing I am now trying to find out is what my options are to buy meat for Baby that is produced locally, treated well, organic, etc. At the moment she is still going to eat meat. I don’t feel qualified enough to make those decisions about her diet. Before Prince Charming and I stopped eating meat we rarely ate it anyway so things won’t change much for her.

cannot for the life of me rotate this photo…

I also have the Food, Inc. DVD on hold at the library…

It will be interesting to see where all this takes us.