Times are getting tougher.  We need to evaluate how we shop for food, and what kinds of money and food we're wasting.  We need to get smarter about our shopping and preperation of food. 


There are two ways to aproach this.  The best way is to lay out a menu for the week.  You can subscribe to a menu service, which is okay for some, and this should help you curb waste.  My preferred way is to pick out recipes for the week.    Then I compile a shopping list.  After checking my pantry to make see if I have any of the required staples, I head off to the store. 


After I get back from the store, I place my meats in the fridge.  I wash and drain all the vegetables.  While the veggies are draining, I prepare my prep list.  I will make a headline of peppers, then under that I will list how to cut the peppers, (julienned, diced, whatever) and which recipe those peppers go to.  I use ziplock sandwich bags (Publix has the best value) to store the individual components.I then place those bags in a gallon size freezer (I like their thickness) and label them. 


When it comes to my salad greens, I like to wash them (I use romaine or green/red leaf)  I then tear the lettuce in bite size portions and spin the lettuce in my salad spinner (One of the best investments you can make).  I then put the lettuce in a freezer ziplock bag, squeeze out the air, and seal.  For each salad that I prepare, I portion out a handful of lettuce into a large bowl and then reseal the bag.  I then add all the other ingredients to the bowl, toss, and serve. 


A really good way to prepare and store the salad is the "salad in a jar"  I've covered this in a previous blog, so I won't go into too much detail now.  I will be offering a class in preparing salads in a jar in July. 


If you don't have the time or inclication to prepare a menu everyweek, you will be pretty safe by buying a wide variety of fresh produce, such as lettuce, radishes, peppers (green, red, orange and/or yellow), green onions, celery, onions, and any other vegetables that you and your family like. 


When you get home, wash and drain the vegetables, and then cut them into recipe friendly sizes. and then bag them. 


You could even precook some potatoes, onions, celery and peppers to speed recipe preperations during the week.  I like to cube potatoes, cook, drain, and cool.  When they are cool, store them in a large freezer baggie.  These can be used to make hash browns, or you may add them to soups and stews.    You could buy them prepped this way in the grocery store, but then you are getting a ton of chemicals added to them to preserve them.  Just make sure you use them within a week of preparing.


I also like to precook chicken.  Depending upon my time crunch, I might use those precooked chickens available in the stores.  When I get home, I feed the skin (if there isn't too much seasoning on it) to the dog.  You could use the skins and the bones to make stock if you have the time.  I cut up the chicken to use in either salads or casseroles.  I also like to keep boneless chicken breasts handy.  Just throw those suckers in the oven with some seasoning, bake, cool and use as you would the precooked chicken.  Also, I've found that chicken on the bone will yield a more moist product, especially in the crockpot.