Tuesday Tip: “Chop’in Brocco-li” and Other Vegetables

food prep for easy cooking

Anytime the broccoli comes out this one always comes to mind…

And my lady, she went downtown
She bought some ber-ra-ccoli
She brought it ho-ome…
She’s chop’in broccoli
Chop’in brocco-li
Chop’in brocco-la
Chop’in brocco-laa-aa

-Dana Carvey (aka Derek Stevens)

food prep for easy cooking

As we transition out of these lazy, hazy days of summer into the firing line of homework/dinner/baths/books/bed, there is a trick that has helped me make my way to the dinner table (and the school lunchbox) a little more gracefully and tastefully- I become my own sous chef.

This helpful trick was gleaned from Mollie at Trattoria Mollie’s. She taught me to simply designate one day a week for purchasing and prepping food. Most weeks, this happens on Tuesday for me, which is also the day I harvest the garden. I harvest first to determine what I will need to add from the market.  My garden is always my first point of inspiration for my menus.  Next, I buy all of my additional veggies, fruit and most proteins for the week on one day, cart them home into the kitchen, and get to chopping and prepping.

diced shallots

I shop in the morning, returning home to clean all of the food, peel garlic, dice onions, shallots, peppers, separate broccoli, peel and cut-up carrots and celery, wash fruit, herbs, lettuces, debone fish or separate chicken— anything and everything, so it’s ready to cook when you’re ready…and the kids are way past the major whining point.

Celery sticks

It’s best to store the prepared and chopped food it in airtight containers. I prefer these glass ones that snap down — so I always know they are closed and airtight. I’m also not crazy about storing things in plastic – am I alone here? With really perishable items like berries, even if I carefully dry them after washing, can still get watery. So, I place a paper towel in the bottom of the container to absorb the juice, post washing.

food prep for easy cooking

As a mom, when I’m stumbling through my morning preparing lunches I love the easy access of ready-to-go veggies– my prep work translates to lunches filled with healthier choices: easily spilling a few sugar snap peas, berries and sliced yellow bell pepper into my little one’s bento, and carrots and celery with almond butter into the other one’s snack pack. It’s also easier for me to grab healthy food in a hurry for myself.

You still might have to swing by the market for some protein and other perishables, but if you have the majority of everything prepped and labeled in the fridge, it will make home cooking so much easier all week long.  You can easily add veggies and flavor without the daunting task of washing and chopping. Mollie also suggested that the day you prep, is the day you go out to dinner — good by me!

Here are some great illustrations from Cooks Illustrated for how to cut veggies.

Here is the link to the Snapware containers I use for storing.