About planning ahead

  • I've read here and elsewhere a lot about making food ahead of time in the fridge for lunch. For those of you who are cutting up a week's worth of vegetables, how do you maintain freshness? Wilty or slimey salads, while packed with the best intentions, will be replaced by burger and fries when it comes down to having to eat it.

    Thanks for your help.
  • I find that most lettuce or spinach keeps okay if you chop it once you buy it and seal it in a big Tupperware container. Carrots and celery can be chopped and put in water to keep them fresh. Broccoli, cauliflower and bell peppers keep pretty well sealed in Tupperware without water. The only things I chop in the morning when I am making lunch salads are onion, tomato, eggplant and cucumber -- they spoil pretty quickly.
  • Woohoo, a topic I feel I can really get into! (here we go, Glory) I used to work 2 jobs Monday-Thursday (just one full-time job on Fridays), so I would leave my house at 5:30am and not get home until between 10:30pm-midnight. Preparing food for the next day was not even on my radar, let alone on my list of priorities Instead, I would make my food for the week when I had time on Sunday (sometimes Saturday if I had Sunday plans).

    First things first: losing weight does not mean you eat only salads every day. Instead, maybe try making a big wok of stir-fry. I would cook up chicken breast, broccoli, corn, pineapple, and whatever else I had on hand with some teriyaki sauce, and I would make a pot of brown rice. Then I would take 5-7 Gladware containers (I swear I should buy stock in that company!) and spoon out even amounts (just eyeballed, too lazy to measure) of rice into each container followed by even amounts of the stir fry. Pop on the lids and pop in the freezer! When ready to cook after having been packed in my bag at work, I'd just sprinkle a little water on top (to keep the rice from drying out) and microwave until heated through. Still got lots of veggies and some protein without the mess of wilted lettuce

    Oooh, or how about soups? There are great reciped for homemade vegetable soups and stews that can incorporate just about any veggies you like. I make a big crick pot full of black beans, corn, cabbage, broccoli, chicken broth, chili powder, fat-free cream cheese, and sometimes chicken--YUM! Then I scoop even amounts into my beloved Gladware containers and freeze until needed. Again, still lots of veggies and protein, and IMO, much more filling than a salad.

    I have recently actually found a light dressing I like, so I have been a little more into salads than usual. If you have one of those food savers that vacuum seals your foods, you can use that to keep your veggies fresher longer. What I do to keep my salads from getting all icky is I don't mix the ingredients until the day I eat the salad. I have containers in my fridge of prepared veggies (rinsed, chopped, sliced, peeled, whatever), so when I get up in the morning (or even the night before), all I have to do is toss a handful of each ingredient into a big (yup, here it comes) Gladware container. Then make sure to bring the dressing separately--that way, it won't get all soggy and gross. Since I don't have a vacuum sealer thingy, I use the poor-man's method--I put my baby spinach and lettuce into big freezer ziploc bags and suck the air out myself. I find my lettuce and spinach go bad the quickest if I leave them in the celophane bags I bought them in--those things are worthless, if you ask me (of course, if you buy your lettuce fresh instead of already chopped, then you don't have this bag, but I will be the first to admit I am too lazy to chop my lettuce when 5 feet up the aisle it's already been chopped for me ).

    Okay, so stir fries, soups, salads...oh, another thing I would do is pack a frozen veggie burger patty or refrigerated cooked chicken breast and a bun--then come lunch time, I would heat the veggie patty or chicken, add a slice of cheese and whatever condiments I wanted (already spread on the bun that morning), and voila--tasty warm sandwich. Cold sandwiches work, too--peanut butter and jelly sandwiches last happily in my fridge all week (I make 5 on Sunday). I've done the same with meat-and-cheese sandwiches, although in this case, I suggest taking any veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion, whatever) in a separate baggie so as not to make the sandwich soggy. I've also read that a squirt of lemon juice can help to keep some veggies fresher, but I've never tried this.

    hmm...snacks? I find fresh fruit lasts quite a while in the fridge when cut up and stored in Gladware containers (man, they should pay me for the advertising). I like to make a fruit salad of watermelon, pineapple (I buy frozen--waaaay too lazy to cut up fresh pineapple), strawberries, grapes, and whatever else might be on sale or I'm in the mood for. Ooh, of baggies of frozen grapes or frozen bananas--very yummy. I also like to just pack yogurt cups. I also keep a box of instant oatmeal packets (reduced-sugar strawberry and peaches flavors) in my desk at work because all I need for that is a cup of hot water, which I believe is available in every office breakroom in the world Little containers of cottage cheese are also a good idea--paired with some fruit or veggies, especially. I've also been known to pack some rice crackers and hummus (if I liked carrots and/or celery, I would use those with hummus, too).

    Perhaps a little more than you may have been asking for...anything else?
  • It's too hot for soup right now, but when I was behaving myself last year, I made a great tortilla bean soup and a white bean chili. I like the frozen stir fry idea. I'll try that. I do really like salads when they are fresh. My mom told me to put a paper towl in with the lettuce to keep it fresh longer, but I often forget to do that. I could probably feed a small country with the vegetables I've had to throw away because they went bad for I used them. I hate that.

    I really wish I could get more into the "food is fuel" mentality so that I could just eat the same thing everyday and not care. The "I don't feel like eating xxx" is what has gotten me in trouble
  • Jill said just about everything, but I'll reiterate that I don't eat the same thing everyday, I think I would have quit by now... but I use a lot of the same strategies she does. Planning ahead for all sorts of occasions really works!
  • Jill -- You're post had some great ideas, no wonder you lost all that weight with that planning ...

    When I wash my romaine lettuce and spin it dry I always wrap it in paper towel and put it in a bag, it keeps quite long....I clean and wrap everything, brocolli, celery, cauliflower in the same manner. I find that it's the moisture that makes the vegetables go limp or slimmy...