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 Post subject: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:12 am 
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Tofu Pup Forever

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I'm a busy girl. And not terribly organized. So, when I buy produce with the idea that I'll use it in something delicious tomorrow...tomorrow tends to be 4 or 5 days from now. This is worst during the week, and especially awful when talking herbs, since they have the life expectancy of a gnat.

What do you busy vegans do to keep your produce from going bad while you're Doing Other Things?


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:18 am 
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I stop buying more than what I'll definitely use that day except for the reliable ones like carrots, parsley, onions, lemons, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:19 am 
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Sometimes what I do is cook some of it and freeze it to use later. Or I just freeze it in general and defrost the produce before cooking. Of course this might not help if you intend to eat them raw.

Herbs can be frozen too!


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:30 am 
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Tofu Pup Forever

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Yeah, I think I just need to start cooking it all at once. No magic bullet, I suppose. More's the pity. Thanks, guys!


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:34 am 
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I think this kinda depends on how close you live to the grocery store, but I only buy stuff I'm going to use that day or the next day. When we get our CSA boxes, though, there's usually a good mix of stuff that will go bad quickly and stuff that will last longer, so I use up my lettuces and things first. Wrapping up herbs in a wet paper towel and storing them in a zip lock will keep them fresh for a while. I do the same thing with greens.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:50 am 
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I meal plan for the week and buy just the produce I need for that. Then I decide what order to make things in at least in part by how fragile the produce is. Like a meal involving salad greens would be early in the week but potato leek soup could wait until the end of the week. That pretty well works, until I get lazy or busy and deviate from the plan entirely be eating frozen burritos for dinner instead of cooking.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:07 pm 
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Tofu Pup Forever

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monkeytoes wrote:
That pretty well works, until I get lazy or busy and deviate from the plan entirely be eating frozen burritos for dinner instead of cooking.


Yeah, that's generally my problem. I have such high hopes for the week! And then it all goes downhill and I have rosemerry that looks like a cactus. :(

I will try the paper towel trick, though. Maybe that will help. A lot of times, I buy an herb for something specific, but there's more than the meal calls for...so then I have leftovers and I have to come up with some sort of solution...which generally involves feeling bad about it as it wilts away to practically nothing.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:13 pm 
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you can also dry the herbs if you don't think you're going to use them fresh before they go bad. I do this with rosemary and thyme pretty frequently.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:42 pm 
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I have this problem too often as well. I try to make a soup once a week to use all the ripe veg. I still have too much food waste though. I have a massive Tesco grocery store two minutes from my house (drive) but can't get to it every day. I tend to buy garlic in a paste and use dried/powdered/frozen herbs. I also have a large freezer so I use frozen peas, broad beans and cook and freeze a full bag of chickpeas for throwing into meals. I try to avoid tinned & pre-packaged foods bit do keep some flavoured rice packets that can be microwaved with tinned beans & topped with curry (paste) sauce when I'm too tired/busy to cook. I'm to balance out convince foods with fresh produce and tend to buy veg that can double up for steaming/roasting/soups (it's unusual not to find sweet potatoes, carrots, onions & lentils in my house).


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:39 pm 
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You could also freeze your produce that's starting to turn and use it for veg stock.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:03 pm 
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As a leftover from my restaurant days, I always make my meals based on what I have and if I want to do a specific recipe, I will jig it a bit to make it work with what I want to use -- and I buy produce based on what is on sale most of the time so it makes for a revolving group of meals.

I honestly can't remember the last time I threw out anything because it sat too long and went bad.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:48 pm 
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Tofu Pup Forever

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Fezza - for a while I was in the habit of cooking and freezing rice, lentils and chickpeas (both pre and post hummus) for a while, but I got out of that. I think it's time to bring it back. I think maybe I should try the herb pastes. I've seen them around but haven't tried them yet...I assume they last a little bit longer?

Thanks again for all the ideas. Jonny - if I cooked regularly, I would definitely attempt this. My main issue is that I'll go days eating out of cans or something because I'm too tired to cook. It's not ideal, obviously, but it seems to be the current trend. Maybe that'll be my next resolution... :)


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:53 pm 
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Some herb pastes have lactose, so check ingredients. Ask me how I know this...

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:38 pm 
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I haven't wasted veg in a while. My technique is to do one big shop every 2 weeks and then spend down the fridge to zero, hitting the most fragile (salad greens) first and the most sturdy (cabbage) last. I'm almost at the end of my last shop, so we'll be having cabbage thoran tomorrow or Monday :) If something looks like its nearing its expiration, I just cook and freeze it. I'll often roast veg that seems to have seen its best days, and then toss it into scrambles. I prioritize finishing food in the fridge over eating something that pops into my mind. So even if I come home and see a post about vegan quiches, and I really want one, I won't make it if there is other veg that needs to be used up.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:38 pm 
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Tofu Pup Forever

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I'm guessing its via unpleasant experience... Good to know, though. I'm really completely brand new to all of this, and trying to figure out what is REALLY vegan, or even vegetarian, is really challenging!


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:51 am 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
you can also dry the herbs if you don't think you're going to use them fresh before they go bad. I do this with rosemary and thyme pretty frequently.

Rosemary holds up well to freezing. I don't think that would work for leafy herbs though. I bring home quart ziplocs stuffed with fresh rosemary when I go out to my aunt's house and just stash them in the freezer.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:06 am 
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I freeze cilantro and mint and dill.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:57 am 
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I also work stupid hours and can get home too tired to cook. I try and prepare (or part prepare) as much as I can when I do have time to cook and stash it in the fridge and freezer for the week, so that there's always something in the house that just needs reheating. Also, I stopped buying cut herbs and started getting the growing herbs instead, which last longer and doesn't put me under so much pressure to use them in the couple of days after I buy them. Like Fezza, I buy pastes of ginger, lemongrass and chilli, because it used to make me sad seeing fresh ginger roots slowly shrivelling unloved in the veg drawer...

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:50 am 
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i think it's really important to know how to store your produce correctly.
for instance, ginger and garlic should not be stored in the fridge - that will just make them moist and thus, they will start to get moldy a lot faster than they would dry out on the counter.
another important thing is that your fridge is clean. if something goes bad in there, clean with soap. you don't want your fridge to be a breeding ground for mold.
buy most of the veggies that keep well; onions (store outside the fridge), potatoes, carrots, pumpkin (store outside the fridge), roots etc. these will keep pretty okay in the fridge - at least for a week (if they don't, it's probably because your fridge has a problem with keeping a steady temp.)
i usually just get a few of the easy spoil items: cucumbers, lettuce, greens, tomatoes (store at room temp) and fruits.

remember that if you only cook for yourself, an eggplant and a few tomatoes is basically enough for an entire meal. i usually cook simple food with a few ingredients and skip on the fresh herbs unless i want to make something special.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:12 am 
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And smoothies!

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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
And smoothies!


don't eat me!


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:22 am 
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Tofulish wrote:
I freeze cilantro and mint and dill.


I freeze my herbs in ice cube trays: bit of water + stuff with herbs + cover with water = really nicely protected herbs that are portioned for use. Just put in a strainer and run under cool water to thaw; dry and use as normal.

I also freeze my ginger right away and use a micro plane so shave the frozen ginger into my meal...it never dries out this way and taste pretty much identical.


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 Post subject: Re: How do you avoid your produce going bad?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:40 pm 
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I too only shop with a list and knowing what I'm going to cook for the week. Yeah, I get lazy too and plans change. But I always try to come up with something creative if I have too many stray leftovers.

Ditto on freezing the ginger. You can scrape the skin off easily (then I put them into tea) if you run them under water for a second or two (regular cold water). It's easier to slice with a knife and chop, even through the woody fibers. It lasts a lot longer that way.

Also, if I buy stuff that only lasts a few days (fresh mushrooms, cucumber, sprouts), I make sure I cook or eat them and not waste them. Otherwise, I stick to the longest lasting stuff--I always have onions, cabbage, celery, carrots, garlic, peppers on hand. I chop bell peppers and freeze them for later, if they're starting to get old. Or freeze chili peppers whole.

I grow my own fresh herbs, so no waste there, and some of my leafy greens...are you able to try some potted herbs in a sunny window or other area? Green onions, parsley, basil are easy to grow and way cheaper that way.

Then any excess produce scraps can be thrown into a composting bin or system and used as fertilizer for your plants. Makes for no- to low-waste, and cost.

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