Save Money. Eat More Veggies. 10 Quick and Easy Veggie Preparation Techniques

Have you ever really paid attention to how much the food costs that you put into your shopping cart at the grocery store? Have you noticed which types of foods seem to cost more compared to how much they fill you up when you eat them?

A big complaint of people who want to eat healthier is that healthy food is expensive. Well, that is certainly true if you are comparing grass-fed beef to conventional beef. Or how about sprouted Ezekiel bread in the freezer section versus plain white bread that can sit out on the shelf. Or organic berries versus non-organic berries. Definitely a large price difference. But have you just looked at foods as categories and how much they cost? Box of crackers versus a bunch of kale, a pound of meat versus a pound of avocados. Now, the “healthier” foods are cheaper. Before you stop reading because you don’t want to “eat rabbit food,” I’m not saying switch to becoming a vegetarian, but almost everybody can stand to eat more vegetables. And, to do that, here are 10 ways to prepare vegetables that are quick and easy so that you can experience a wide variety of vegetables, but more importantly, get the nutrition they hold.

What comes to mind when you hear the word vegetables? To most it is probably raw, as in a salad, but that is just one delicious way to eat veggies. Here are a few more ways that are quick, easy and versatile because sometimes you just want to throw stuff together and not have a recipe to follow. Or maybe you subscribe to a CSA or shop by what is in season (which saves more money and provides more nutritional value) and you get home and say "Now what?" "What do I do with this fennel and bok choy and 5 pounds of beets?" LOL. By learning different food preparation techniques, you’ll have yet another tool in your healthy eating arsenal.

1. Raw

I already mentioned raw in a salad, but you can also just cut up veggies into sticks and eat with dip like guacamole, hummus or nut butter. This makes a great on-the-go snack or part of a delicious lunch at the office. It is also a great time-saver as you can cut up veggies sticks or make salads for multiple days and keep in the refrigerator.

2. Steamed

I LOVE my steamer basket. In fact, it is my second one and probably due to be replaced from so much use. It is so easy to get it out, place in my large pot, add a half inch of water to the pot and chop up some veggies to fill it up. You can also just put in frozen veggies! Easy peasy! Just turn on the heat and steam until veggies are desired texture, 10-15 minutes.

But don’t stop there, you can add olive oil at the end for a subtle flavor, or butter with fresh/dried herbs for a more bold flavor. We like to dip certain veggies, like broccoli in a dab of mayo (which is essentially eggs and oil - try to find one that isn’t made with canola oil.) You can also add aromatics to the water in the pot while steaming, such as lemon slices.

Another great recipe is to make mashed cauliflower: after steaming the cauliflower until it is soft, add it to a blender or food processor with some butter and blend until smooth. I’ve also made mashed butternut squash this way. Just top with some fresh herbs like oregano or thyme.

3. Roasted

Roasting veggies in the oven is also delicious because of the added warming herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme. Did you know they also help boost the immune system? An extra bang for your buck during cold season when you don’t mind heating the oven in the house. Just chop up some potatoes, winter squash, onions, carrots and other root veggies, toss with oil and herbs and spread on a roasting pan at around 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. 

4. Sautéed

This is a method I use a lot at breakfast time because I’m already cooking stuff on the stove. For a treat, I use saved bacon grease to oil the skillet, then add my sliced veggies, like summer squash, onions, peppers, asparagus, etc… and stir on medium-low heat until soft, about 15 minutes. 

5. Poached

This is similar to sautéing, but you put the lid on the skillet and just stir and turn the veggies occasionally until cooked. This is especially delicious when you use ghee or grass-fed butter. I’ve done this with summer squash, carrots, asparagus and green beans. It also takes about 10-15 minutes.

6. Dehydrated 

When I had an abundance of summer squash from the garden, I thinly sliced up a zucchini and put it on my dehydrator and we had zucchini chips. A fun snack for everyone. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could use your oven on the lowest heat setting, or sun-dry them on a rack covered with cheesecloth to keep the bugs off. Time will vary by how thinly you slice the veggies and how much water content they have and how hot your desired method is.

7. Juiced

Juicing is also quick and easy to get a lot of vegetables in at once. This is especially great if you need extra vitamin boost due to sickness of any type. Just about anything can be juiced, but celery, carrots, cucumbers and beets make a delicious drink. Also, try adding fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro for an extra bang of vitamins and minerals.

8. Grilled

Putting some veggies on the grill with some chicken or burgers is not only convenient because everything is cooking in one spot, but you get that delicious charred or smokey flavor if you’re using a smoker grill. You can cut veggies into long strips so they won’t fall through the grate of the grill, or we have a grill basket where I’ll cut stuff into bite sized pieces, toss with a little oil (avocado or olive are good) and then toss again with some fresh or dried herbs and spices and then put into the basket on the grill and stir occasionally. Our favorites to grill are zucchini, asparagus, peppers and onions.

9. Frozen

This is something I mention in my Kid Friendly Vegetable Guide, but we do honestly eat veggies straight out of the freezer, still frozen. In fact, as I’m writing this, my son was eating frozen veggies while I was making dinner (they were part of the dinner, so I don’t consider that a snack.)

10. Baked

Another one that’s in the Kid Friendly Vegetable Guide is baked kale chips. Kale is very nutritious, but a little tough to eat raw in my opinion. I’ve chopped it up and added to soups and stews, but my favorite way to eat it is by making kale chips. Just tear the kale into bite-sized pieces, toss with a tiny bit of olive oil (less is more) and spread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and other spices, like curry powder. Bake at 325 degrees for 8 minutes, then turn over and bake another 8 minutes.

Bonus: Fermented!

Pickles anyone? Or dilly carrots? Or how about sauerkraut? Or maybe you’ve heard of kimchi? All fermented veggie options that are commonly used as a small side dish for a large meal to aid with digestion (and add a lot of yum!) If you make your own, they aren’t exactly quick, but they are pretty easy. Check out how I make dilly carrots.

Well, there are 11 ways I prepare vegetables. Some methods blur together, like baking and roasting or sautéing and poaching, but that’s ok. The whole idea is to get you eating more vegetables and less processed foods or less grains as both can cause inflammation which is a symptom your body is telling you something is wrong and needs to be corrected. They are also more nutritious and in many cases, save you money at the grocery store. I try to serve vegetables at lunch and dinner every day and have at least two different vegetables prepared at each meal as well. Let me know how you love to eat vegetables!

With love, hugs and smiles,

Carolyn