An Idiot’s Guide to Eating the Vegetables You Buy Instead of Letting Them Rot

Photo: Sonny Abesamis/Flickr

Happy 2016! It’s a new year, and that means it’s time to lie to ourselves about our futures and our deeply ingrained bad habits. Just kidding, just kidding, it’s time to attempt meaningful steps toward a better life. Or at least towards just replacing your sponges more often.

My resolution style has always been pretty grounded and granular. The sorts of sweeping self-betterment resolutions I hear others make (“Lose 20 pounds!” “Meet my future spouse!” “Stop being so angry all the time, you know? *sips Pinot Grigio*”) just make me break out in pressure-hives. I try to aim for small, achievable resolutions. Like a puppy being trained to pee outdoors, I need to be set up to win.

So this year, one of my bite-sized resolutions is to eat more vegetables. Like, actually eat them. Not just buy them, tuck them away, then toss them in the garbage when they’ve grown arms or started to resemble something more hamster-like than leafy green.

My usual routine goes a little like this: I buy a lot of produce in a delusional fit of self-betterment, then allow it to rot in the fridge while I order pineapple fried rice in defeat. It’s a double waste of money and I’ve decided that 2016 is the year when the madness stops.

So here are the strategies I’ve been using and so far, so good.

1. Put all your vegetables in a flat row on the top shelf of the fridge.

I don’t know about you, but the crisper is where I get into trouble. What goes on in that crisper? Certainly not crisping, in my experience. It’s got some dastardly, wrinkle-oriented agenda that causes my eggplants to age and my lemons to grow textured Justin Vernon-esque beards. But even if there’s no sinister plot afoot in there, at the very least it simply hides away my food. And anything my idiot brain doesn’t see immediately upon flinging open the fridge door may as well not exist.

2. Admit it when you don’t like to cook something.

You know what I never want to prepare for myself? Peppers. I don’t know why! I appreciate the way they taste, I enjoy eating them in restaurants, I like to gaze upon elegant oil paintings of their likenesses. But when it comes to my own cooking, they’re just not in the mix. Society pressures me to buy them, with visions of fresh Greek salads I’ll never make dancing in my head. I don’t eat hummus; I’m never dipping peppers in it. I know this now. So I’ve stopped buying them and you know what, Oprah Magazine, I don’t feel badly about it.

3. Stop being fooled by “value packs” at the bodega.

You know they’re positioning the tomatoes under the cellophane to specifically hide the rotting parts. Just accept it. Pay the extra 20 cents and pick the produce yourself.

4. Go to the grocery store more often than once a month.

The store is like three blocks away, you lazy moron. Stop thinking of it as a big horrible chore, during which you stock up on dumb crap like some sort of camo-clad apocalypse prepper. Instead, you could be like one of those glorious, silk-scarf-clad Parisian women who stops by the “market” every damn day for the freshest of fresh ingredients. Just start going more, and buying less each time. That seems to be how the science of “not having produce go bad” works. Just trust me here. After all, I did come in third place in my grammar school science fair because my non-functioning robot prototype elicited the pity vote.

5. Not into recipes? Just do whatever the hell you want instead.

Listen, I live alone. I can do all the weird behavior I want, and that extends to cooking. I used to get overwhelmed by preparing my own meals because I’d get wrapped up in recipes. Lemon-rubbed tilapia, pasta carbonara… you know, like, salads… it was all too much. So now I’m trying this recipe I invented myself, which goes “cut up vegetables, sauté in pan, consume while warm.” That’s all I really need, turns out. Bonus: Eat your dish out of a mug because your plates are all dirty! Baby steps, ya know; 2017 can be the year I develop a more effective dish-washing system.

If I’m eating vegetables every day of 2016, so can you. You’re so much smarter than me! Go forth and eat fresh! Whoops that’s a Subway slogan!

Jess Keefe is a writer. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.