Why I Need “Salad Saturday”

saladThere are few things at this point in my life that I dislike as much as food prep. Considering I spent several years as a paid food blogger, this is surprising.

On the other hand, I started my old food blog when I only had one child (who still napped), wasn’t taking college courses on my lunch hours, and hadn’t adapted to a healthier way of life. Somehow food prep is more exciting when it usually begins with “warm a pat of butter over medium heat.” Chopping veggies seems more enticing when there’s a slab of bacon waiting for its turn with the knife. So it makes sense, I guess, that I’d feel a sense of loss when my hobby (cooking) became muddled with counting calories, logging meals, and calculating appropriate serving sizes.

If I’m being honest, I sometimes get in a groove where I eat more processed foods now than I did before I lost all the weight. Granted, the nature of “processed” has changed in my vocabulary — I’m sure there are clean-living crowds that would say there is no difference between a box of ice cream sandwiches and a microwaveable Lean Cuisine dinner — but I know the difference. I will always, always prefer the ice cream, but I’m getting better at choosing the frozen veggie scramble instead.

I think the biggest issue for me is produce. I love the summer months when produce just randomly shows up. I live in a part of the country where farming is something almost everyone does to some degree. I hate buying produce at the grocery store and then realizing a week later that it’s gone bad in the crisper drawer and I never even attempted to chop it up and eat it. There were more convenient, quicker options higher in the refrigerator in plain sight, and I chose them instead. But in the summer, you don’t even have to buy half the veggies. A coworker brings you a zucchini the size of your head from her garden. A neighbor drops by with a grocery sack full of tomatoes and peppers. The local orchards just opened and your mom picked you up a bag of fresh peaches while she was there.

Ah, the Midwest. Where produce happens without question.

I’m more inclined to eat all of the produce if it was gifted to me rather than if I paid hard-earned money for it. I don’t know why. Somehow I feel like I’m letting down my friends if I don’t eat their cucumbers, even if they told me their crop was so big they’re having to unload them on strangers just to clear them away. Doesn’t matter. Someone in my community grew that vegetable from a tiny plant and chose to share it with me. It is my privilege to enjoy it and be grateful, and letting it decay and get thrown away would make me a horrible person.

Right now, my fridge is brimming with the aforementioned surplus veggies I’ve received with a smile from friends and family. And salads are my friend. They turn a few minutes of meal prep for one day into a week of commitment to choosing the veggies over the packaged foods. If I make a salad to eat for lunch on a Saturday, I just pull all the veggies out of the crisper at once, chop them all, and then bag up all the leftovers into grab-and-go portions. I cut up all the cucumbers, peppers, carrots, whatever. There are never any rotten veggies when I come to the end of the week because Hubby and I have grabbed a couple of bags each on our way out the door every morning to take to work with us.

If I don’t make a salad over the weekend, odds are good those veggies will never even see the outside of their farm sack before they’ve rotted, and I’ll continue to make “easy” choices (read: bad choices) in the week ahead. So at least in my diet, “Salad Saturday” is important. It determines the pace of the entire week, because most weekends I’m either too busy or too exhausted to muster up the strength to go chop and package a dozen veggies if it’s not meal time and I’m doing it already. Chopping all the veggies in the house takes about two more minutes total than chopping a little bit of each veggie for a single salad and then repackaging the uncut remainder of each veggie back in the fridge. It makes absolutely no sense to do that. And now that I’ve lived both ways and KNOW that I’m setting the pace for the whole week ahead with only two extra minutes of work, it changes everything.

Salad Saturday. It should be a hashtag. Just saying.





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