Tips for meal prepping veggies

veggie meal prep

Meal prep is one simple task you can do that has a huge impact on family life through out the week. Each weekend during the school terms I share my weekly meal prep photos on Facebook – you can follow along here if you are interested!

If you haven’t undertaken any meal prep before, looking at what I post you might think “I could never find time to do all that!”. I am sure I would have thought the same before I started a regular meal prep habit as well.

The reality is that I didn’t go from making nothing in a meal prep session one weekend to making all the food I do now. Not dissimilar to running a marathon (love a running analogy) you don’t go and run a full marathon without any training!

Meal prep is the same. When I first started, I would make two items on the weekend – a sweet treat and a savoury item for the kids’ lunch boxes. I did this for a long period of time – until it became a well established habit. It became just something I did every weekend.

Then I started adding to this with:

  • food for lunches for myself and my husband
  • made from scratch condiments
  • prepped veggies for the week

Each added item helps make my weekdays easier and makes sure as a family we eat well, especially when it comes to getting a healthy dinner together quickly after work.

Meal prepping veggies doesn’t even have to be a completely separate activity on it own. When you are preparing meals on Saturday and Sunday, think about what you need for the following week and cut up extra veggies as you are going.

If you are peeling and grating a couple of carrots, it takes very little extra time to do some zucchini as well. Or if you are cutting up capsicum why not cut a couple more for veggie snacks during the week?

meal prepping veggies for meals during the week

The weekend meal prep shown above, means that in about 15 minutes I can have the below meal ready for the family when I get home from work!

veggie meal prep quick curry

Tips for keeping meal prepped veggies fresh

When I post my photos I get many questions, but some of the most frequently asked questions are all around meal prepping veggies and how do I keep them fresh during the week.

There are two key reasons I meal prep veggies for the week:

  • for snacks for myself and the kids
  • to have them cut and ready to go for a meal after work

Over my years of meal prepping veggies, this is what I have found to work well.

Use sharp knives / instruments

Meal prep - keeping veggies fresh

When cutting veggies, particularly ones like capsicum you want nice clean cuts in them. If you use a blunt knife the veggies tend to “bleed” which ends up with more moisture coming out them and they go soggy faster. Kitchen Style has a great range of knives currently on sale which you can check out here.

If I am going to be grating carrot or zucchini in advance, I will use my food processor to do it for the same reason as I use sharp knives. The food processor cuts more cleanly than a traditional grater and I find the grated veggies stay fresh for much longer when I use a food processor.

It is important not to push to hard on veggies when using the food processor – for example putting too many veggies in the chute then having to press down really hard to get it through the food processor. This extracts too much moisture during the grating process. You want as little moisture as possible when storing grated veggies.

When cut like this I find grated zucchini and carrot will stay fresh in glass containers for up to 5 days.

Air tight containers

Meal prep veggies glass containers

To keep veggies as fresh as long as possible you need to have good air tight containers. I do have some Tupperware which I love, but I find it is better for storing whole veggies. For my cut veggies I have had better success with glass.

I use a combo of Pyrex containers and recycled glass jars to store my meal prepped veggies. If you are looking for some quality glass containers online you can find a great range here.

With the cut carrot and celery I add a couple of drops of water to the bottom of the jars to help them not dry out too much. For eating as veggie sticks, I find they stay fresh like this for up to 3 days. For the cut capsicum I don’t add any water as they tend to excrete moisture when cut.

For the big containers of cut cabbage and carrot, I don’t add anything and it will last up to 5 days in the fridge. I don’t add dressings when prepping veggies like this as it makes them go soggy. I make up the dressings in a jar and then simply add dressings prior to serving.

Paper towel

storing cut veggies - paper towel

For veggies like spinach and lettuce you can layer some paper towel on the bottom of the container to help draw away the moisture and it keeps them fresher for longer. I find cut lettuce and spinach will last up to 5 – 7 days like this.

You can even do it for some sliced tomato to make it last a couple of days. Once you have finished up with the veggies this paper towel can go into your compost bin.

The kids like BLT for their school lunch boxes, so I will make up a few at a time, then prepare the veggies for more days and make them up as I buy fresh rolls from the local bakery.

Combining the right veggies

meal prepping veggies - combining veggies

In the picture above in the top right corner is a container of cut veggies (it could be the basis for this Mexican salad). This combination of veggies store super well together. You have the more moist veggies of capsicum and cucumber combined with a more dry type of veggie in carrot. These veggies cut up together stay fresh for 5 – 7 days. It is good to think about what veggies you are storing together.

What about the loss of nutrients from pre-cut veggies?

A question commonly asked is whether these pre-cut veggies lose some of their nutrients. And the answer is yes they do lose some.

The nutrient that suffers the heaviest hit in cut fruits and vegetables is probably vitamin C, although some vitamin A and vitamin E get lost as well. These vitamins are antioxidants, which means they react to oxygen. The peels and coverings naturally protect the antioxidant vitamins inside. Once you break through the protective coverings, the flesh inside is exposed to air and the oxygen reduces the antioxidant vitamins.

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But it isn’t all bad news:

Most other nutrients, including minerals, B-complex vitamins,and fiber, aren’t lost after cutting or peeling the inedible rind from fruits and vegetables.

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To me though, a key factor to take into consideration is are you going to eat more veggies and eat them more often because you have them prepared? For most people including me the answer is yes, so while there is some loss overall there is net positive effect of meal prepping veggies.

More meal prep tips

meal prep primer

If you want to make feeding the family easier and less stressful, then Meal Prep Primer is for you! Meal Prep Primer shows you how to plan effectively to spend time in the kitchen over the weekend and prep food that will make your week days easier:

  • Imagine being able to simply pick and pack from your pre-made items to make the kids’ lunch boxes.
  • Imagine being able to make a meal in minutes when you come in late after work or an after school activity using the food you prepped on the weekend.
  • Imagine eating a nutritious homemade lunch each day that you can simply reheat in a flash.

This can be a reality for you and it doesn’t have to take up all of your weekend.

In the course I will teach you the process I have developed over these years. The course will:

  • save you time
  • save you money
  • save you stress through the week days
  • ensure your family eats well
  • allow you to enjoy meal time more with the family

Click here to sign up or find out more!

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