Food Prep: avoid waste, save time + money!

Sometimes I feel like I spend my entire days in the kitchen either preparing something for the blog or something for lunches or dinner. It can be annoying to realize how much time you have to spend daily in the kitchen! A simple trick that I love is to food prep on Sunday afternoons. It really helps with avoiding food waste, with the cooking of the week, and it reduces food waste: if everything is ready to be eaten, you’ll eat it up! At first, you’ll think that spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen is really long, but it’s actually much more efficient and when you realize that you can spend about 5 minutes in the kitchen on busy weeknights, you’ll be convinced! It’s also a gentle transition from the weekend into the week. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed if you know that there is food already ready in your fridge come Monday. Here is what I do on Sunday afternoons.

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  1. Prepare your vegetables: Cut, wash, cook!
    • I love grating carrots and beets in big batches that I keep in my fridge. I can then add some to salads, stir fries, fancy bowls or smoothies. It’s much more simple to have them ready to go in the fridge then having to grate one carrot at a time as I need it. I do the same with lettuce, kale and any other veggie that I want to keep on hand. This makes eating healthier so much easier!
    • I also cook vegetables ahead of time. Onions, broccoli, asparagus, zucchinis, and potatoes will go in the oven before they find a home in containers. It’s much more efficient to cut everything up and to place everything at once in the oven time and energy wise. You can also batch-boil vegetables reusing the same boiling water. It is super practical: toss your veggies with some rice and you practically have a complete meal ready any day of the week!
    • I usually wash any vegetables that I’ll eat raw during the week. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this. Just place them in an air-tight container with some paper towel at the bottom to absorb extra water and they’re ready to go!
  2. Get your proteins ready: Marinate, broil, cook!
    • I like to marinate tofu ahead of time as it really makes it so much tastier. I like to cut my tofu up and prepare a few marinades in containers. I toss the tofu in, stir it up, and forget about it in the fridge. This is perfect because it will be ready to go for stir-fries or anything else I might be needing it for during the week. I also like to throw some in the oven and roast it so that my proteins for the first few meals of the week are ready. You can do the same thing with canned legumes.
    • If you are using dried legumes and beans, this is the perfect time to cook them up! I usually like to let them soak in water from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, cook them up and then freeze them in individual portions. That way, it’s just like using canned beans!
  3. Take care of sauces: mix it up!
    • Sauces are an easy way to make simple vegetables more exciting or the key to creating fancy vegan bowls. It’s also really fun to have a few alternatives ready to make each meal different. In air tight container, I find that most sauces or salad dressing will keep longer than a week, so you’re safe to go!

I hope these tips help you out! I really like putting some Gilmore Girls on (am I the only one who is crazy excited about the upcoming season?) and prepping everything up. Let me know what you like to prepare weekly and how you organize your food in your home! Oh, and don’t forget to participate in my super giveaway!

 

 

Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

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I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

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This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

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