Vege up your Plate (even take some shortcuts)

With only 7% of adult Australians actually eating adequate serves of five vegetables each day, any food products in the supermarket to encourage increasing vegetables in the family meals is a welcome market.  Vegetables are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre, which work in perfect synergy to improve your health.  Research from all around the world validates the benefits of eating more vegetables to improve our health and vitality. The pre-prepared and packaged vegetables market is increasing to meet the demands of time-poor parents and families, and those in single member families. Any product in the supermarket that encourages an increase in vegetable consumption will have my full support.  If it means that a meal will have half the plate filled with vegetables, this will always be a win in nutritional stakes.

These products do save time in the kitchen, however many do come at a cost, financial that is.  There is quite a hefty price mark-up for convenience and can work against you for some products (eg carrot sticks 500% mark up to raw carrots), A supermarket packaged 300g bag of carrot sticks was a whopping $3, compared to unprepared shelf sisters that were at 60 cents.  Many pre-prepared vege packs may save time and suit the busy lifestyle, however they come a a pricey price point.  Ranging anywhere between 250% to 600% mark up for convenience for many products.  A surprising fact is the mixed vegetable packs (eg Kaleslaw, Coleslaw, Rainbow Stir-Fry Vegetables, Family Stir-Fry Vegetables and many more) are quite economical for the one or two person household as buying all the ingredients to make the combination vegetable salad is quite expensive and you will have a large quantity that you are unlikely to use before perishing or tire of it.

Some nutrients are lost when the surface of the vegetable is cut and exposed, but the loss is negligible and improved with airtight vacuum packaging.  More nutrient loss occurs in the cooking process with the loss of water soluble vitamins (vitamins B & C).  Grilling, stir-frying, sauteeing and steaming are the best cooking methods for minimal nutrient loss in vegetables.

Vege Hacks in your Kitchen

Do some meal prep when you are in the kitchen – when prepping the evening meal, make a pot of vegetable soup to have as lunches or snacks throughout the week; prep a container of chopped vegetables – mixed greens, capsicum, sliced snowpeas, carrot, cucumber, radish, snow pea sprouts, mushrooms.  Add tomato afterwards or prepared salad will go soggy.  Use a salad mix or a dry coleslaw (from supermarkets) for a wrap on within a nourish bowl. Plastic décor container with chopped carrot, snowpeas, green beans, capsicum, carrot sticks (put wet paper towel on top and bottom of container to keep vegetables moist).  Roast an extra tray of vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, purple carrots, cauliflower, field mushrooms, roma tomatoes)

  • Steam Fresh vegetable packs – in microwave
  • Coles and Woolies have prepared vege packs in fruit & vege section – kaleslaw, coleslaw, stir-fry veges; superfood stir-fry
  • Sauté vegetables in frypan with olive oil – asparagus, broccolini, snow peas, beans, evoo, s&p, pistachios, lemon zest
  • Roast vegetables in oven (will take 30-40 mins) – slices of pumpkin, capsicum, eggplant, carrots (orange, purple), sweet potato, truss tomatoes, field mushrooms, cauliflower
  • Vege skewers on BBQ – capsicum, pineapple, onion, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant
  • Stir-fry – hard veges first – onion, carrot, capsicum, soft veges second – snow peas, green beans, baby corn, bok choy, shallot, mung bean shoots
  • Fruit preparation – in décor container – cut up ½ rockmelon, small bunches of grapes, pineapple; choose three different fruits at the end of the week. Top up with blueberries or strawberries or raspberries.  Cut fruit lasts for at least three  days in the fridge
  • Vege preparation – when cutting up vegetables, prep some extra vegetables for the next night. Store in ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and they will keep as is for at least 2 days
  • Shelf life of pre-packed salad vege packs at supermarkets are quite good. Buy a different one each week and use in salads, wraps or nourish bowls at the start of the week, and the dry-slaws / seasonal mixed veges can be used in a stir-fry or sautéed in a pan at the end of the week

Top Buys for Cost and Convenience and Time-Saving

Simply Stir-Fry mixes (vegetable superfoods, rainbow vegetables, simply simmer vegie mix) – four varieties available, great for stir-fries, sautéing in a pan, soups, casseroles

Coleslaw varieties (American Slaw, Kaleslaw, Asian Slaw, Traditional Coleslaw) – nine varieties available, great for salads, jacket potatoes, home-made burgers, wraps, sandwiches, nourish bowls, Buddha bowls