Pre-cut vegetables get a bad wrap, but they can help folks of all skill levels and abilities get dinner on the table.
Dinner time is so busy that between emptying lunchboxes, signing whatever forms come home, and fending off the begging for more screen time, it can be hard for me to think about what vegetables are making it onto our plates. The weeknight dinner hustle is just one of the reasons that you’ll find pre-cut veggies in my cart every week.
Not only do they save me time and help me reduce waste as a busy mom, but they also keep my cooking mojo alive and feed my creativity as a food editor.
Pre-cut vegetables sometimes get a bit of a bad wrap for being more expensive than their whole counterparts, but they can help folks of all skill levels and abilities get dinner on the table. Here are seven of my favorite pre-cut vegetables that I rely on to feed my family faster and with less fuss.
1. Vegetable Medley
This bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets with baby carrots has saved me many times. You can steam it in the microwave or roast it and toss it with butter and salt as a quick side to many proteins. Or you can make it part of a pan-fried dinner like teriyaki chicken or beef and broccoli. I’ve also used it to make broccoli cheddar soup more robust.
2. Broccoli Florets
When you’re eating broccoli twice a week like our family does, it’ll help your stamina to buy it pre-chopped. This is hands down the pre-cut vegetable I use the most, mostly because it is my kids’ most-eaten vegetable. I’ll toss it on the sheet pan with frozen nuggets or Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken. It goes into stir-fries. I love roasting it and tossing it with Caesar dressing for pasta night or baking it right into cheesy chicken and rice casserole.
3. Shredded Cabbage
I often joke that every time I buy a whole head of cabbage, it seems to grow in the produce crisper. Buying pre-shredded cabbage means I can buy just what I need for a specific recipe and use it without the whole head taking up my fridge space. I turn shredded cabbage into slaw often for pulled pork sandwiches or shortcut fish tacos.
4. Hearty Greens
Collard greens are another green vegetable that my kids will actually eat regularly. We live in the South, so it helps that they're cooked with bacon or ham. But the two large bunches of collards that I need would take up half of the fridge, so pre-chopped it is. I also like to buy pre-shredded kale for my salads and the occasional creamed kale that my family enjoys.
5. Spiralized Sweet Potato
While I do own a spiralizer, I find it works best for tender vegetables like zucchini. Buying spiralized sweet potatoes and squash—much sturdier vegetables—saves me a lot of time and arm work. Despite their noodle-like shape, I don’t often serve these as a pasta alternative. Instead, I love turning them into fritters or Japanese-style egg pancakes. Roasted spiralized sweet potatoes with a hearty sprinkle of Parmesan is an underrated side dish for pork tenderloin or hearty sausages.
6. Butternut Squash
Yes, I know there are plenty of tricks for making butternut squash easier to cut. I simply do not want to wrestle with one at all on a busy Tuesday night. Buying pre-chopped butternut squash allows me to buy exactly the amount I need for certain recipes, like butternut squash mac and cheese, and not worry about miscalculating whole weight versus prepped weight at the store.
7. Riced Cauliflower
My 12-year-old loves mashed cauliflower, and buying it pre-riced means I can make her dinner dreams come true more often. It also means I don't have to drag out my food processor and clean it every week for a side dish that will be devoured in less than five minutes.
Read the original article on Simply Recipes.