Vegetable Exhaustion

Investment Thinking + 4 Days of Meal Ideas Put Ease into a Vegetable Life

I suffered a case of Vegetable Exhaustion last night while driving to a friend’s house, loaded with prepared vegetables.  After a nasty ski accident landed her in bed for three months, she readily accepted my offer for a few vegetable dishes.  So I spent the better part of a day making a roasted beet salad, green salad with sautéed mushrooms and onions, Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Turnips and Leeks, and kale salad with golden raisins and almonds.

Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Turnips and Leeks

Find all sorts of great recipes at VegetableAMonth.com, like this Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Turnips and Leeks

“Dang!” I groused to myself on the drive to her house.  “How could it have take so long to make four vegetable dishes?”

On average, I get sucked into these head debates about once each month.  A tipping point is reached, I get overwhelmed and aggravated, and off I go, demanding to know why vegetables take so long.  I’m guessing I’m not alone in these outbursts.  In fact, the time commitment required for vegetable cooking is undoubtedly a big part of the reason only one in ten of us eats the recommended daily servings.

So is there any hope for a peaceful coexistence with vegetables?  There has to be.  Vegetables are far too important (and delicious) to be squeezed out by the clock.  But how to still the discontent and debate provoked by these hard-to-crack powerhouses?

Here’s what calmed me down yesterday:  “Investment thinking,” or taking the long view.  If I limited my view plane to a single day, then of course I spent way too much time on vegetables yesterday.  But if I instead took a long view of things, what seemed like wasted time was magically transformed into an investment with a payoff.

Remember, I had made four vegetable dishes—some in quadruple batches!  Although several servings were going to my bedridden friend, one day’s effort still left me with enough green stuff for three more days.  And truth be told, I didn’t really spend the entire day cooking vegetables, only about three hours.  So a three-hour investment yielded a total of  four days’ worth of lunches and dinners.  Not a bad return!  In fact, that payoff is a lot better option than driving to, ordering and coming home with fast food multiple times.

But I didn’t stop with taking a long view.  Not wanting any of my payoff to go to waste, I also jotted down a quick plan for using everything up to maximum advantage.  Reproduced below, it also gives a few hints for maximizing prep time.  For instance, I actually started the green salad a night before, taking advantage of the extra meal making time made available by having leftovers for the rest of the meal.  See if any of my efficiency tricks can help lighten your nightly meal making load.

Saturday–Start Making Ahead

Dinner

  • Leftover Coq au Vin (a fancy French name for chicken cooked in wine)
  • Leftover Brown Rice
  • Simple Green Salad with shredded Jerusalem artichokes and red peppers, topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions

Notes:  With the entrée and starch already cooked, this was a good night to

  1. cut and wash enough lettuce for several meals,
  2. make enough sautéed mushrooms and onions for two nights,
  3. roast some beets, and
  4. throw a few potatoes in the oven to bake.  Now I had a few “cooked resources” to work with.

Sunday, the Big Vegetable Prep Day

Breakfast

  • Leftover Coq au Vin

Notes:  Eating leftovers again freed up time to brown the meat for Beef Stew with Tomatoes and Turnips and get it into the crockpot.

Lunch

  • Roasted Beet Salad with Apples, Celery and Nuts

Notes:  Because the beets were roasted the night before, preparing the beet salad was easy.  That, in turn, freed up time to prepare the vegetables for the Beef Stew, make croutons to freshen up the salad, and prep a double batch of kale salad plus two batches of kale for sautéing.

Dinner

Notes:   By the time dinner rolled around, the slow cooker stew smelled and tasted divine and a great salad was had by just reheating the sautéed mushrooms and onions and tossing on some fresh croutons.  The payoff begins.

Monday:  More Payoffs

Breakfast

  • Leftover Beef Stew

Lunch

  • Leftover Salad, Nicoise Style, with canned tuna, some of the leftover baked potatoes, chopped apples and frozen petite green beans

Dinner

  • Thai Coconut Soup (Tested the recipe for previous blog.)
  • Brown Basmati Rice
  • Orange Slices

Notes: No problem making a new vegetable soup since the rest of the day has required no vegetable cooking.

Tuesday

Breakfast

  • Leftover Beet Salad

Lunch

  • More Salad, Nicoise Style

Dinner

  • Leftover Beef Stew
  • Kale Salad

Notes: Again, no problem making the kale salad since I’ve had leftovers the rest of the day and the kale is already cut and washed.

Wednesday–Yet One More Day of Payoffs

Breakfast

  • Leftover Kale Salad pumped up with leftover Brown Basmati Rice

Lunch

  • Tomato Basil Soup (Imagine brand)
  • Leftover frozen green beans from Salad Nicoise

Dinner

  • Sauteed Kale with Onions and Garlic
  • Leftover Baked Potatoes with Miso Gravy
  • Baked Apples

Hopefully this “demo” shows how efficient meal making is a sort of “rolling” procedure.  One day’s leftovers lightens the next day’s load enough to make double or triple batches that, in turn, lighten the next day’s load.  Read more about investment thinking and how to ease into the time-saving plan ahead habit, both covered in Take Control of Your Kitchen.

Ready to start living a vegetable life like this?  Check out VegetableAMonth.com, as well as my Twitter column to the left.

Vegetables for a Vegetable Life

Vegetables for a Vegetable Life

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One Response

  1. […] Also see this post on dealing with Vegetable Exhaustion. […]

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