Between garden supply runs and appointments, I’ve been driving around quite a bit. Last week I found myself looking for someplace to have a quick-and-cheap bite to eat. Of course, my budget doesn’t allow for fast food.
So I cheated without cheating.
I often drove by a grocery store between two fast food joints. Neiman’s Family Market has an in-store cafe that allows you (or me in this case!) to nosh on goodies in between grocery shopping.*
One delicious offering was sliced raw vegetables – not just carrots and cucumbers, but radish medallions and brightly-colored pepper slices. The produce sections of most grocery stores carry large plastic bowls of prepared vegetables or fruits, particularly in the summer. Nothing beats the heat like refrigerated snacks.
It occurred to me that the appeal of these bowls – besides the avoidance of cleaning, peeling, and slicing everything oneself – is their beauty. The variety of colors attract the eye like a jar of hard candies on the counter of a sweets shop. It’s much more tempting to “eat your vegetables” when they’re enticingly pretty.
And the convenience of popping the lid and reaching in for a handful of snacks can’t be beat. Unfortunately, the price of convenience can be steep.
My version of a vegetable medley with the freezer container of “odds and ends.”
I decided to make my own version using the Anchor Hocking 7-cup container. I used celery, carrots, radishes, and two bell peppers. Not counting the amount I didn’t use, the cost is less than $5. I could have made it cheaper by using cucumbers and eliminating the celery, which is more than $3 a bunch.**
Not only is it less expense than the store-bought version, it had the added benefit of using all the “ugly” parts like the thick, whitish sections of bell peppers. I threw oddly-shaped pieces into a freezer container for vegetable soup in the autumn. A separate glass container holds sliced celery leaves ready to toss with salad.
This celery soup recipe by The American Moms is easy and delicious, and they give an nice overview of how Michigan farmers created the US celery industry.
*Grocery shopping while hungry can destroy a budget. However, some people become hungry after handling or smelling food. An independent grocer offers free coffee or tea for adults and free fruit to children. Putting food shops inside a store is a genius idea; just ask Michigan old-timers about the Purple Cow.
**Not heart of celery, the tender and leafy center, which is even more expensive. Michigan has had a late start this year in many crops due to cool rainy weather. I haven’t seen any local celery, just California produce. This doesn’t bode well for the price offrozen mirepoix packets, a winter staple.