I typically do most of my mass freezer prep in August. The reason-fresh produce is easy to come by here in the Midwest and it supports our local economy. It’s also more cost efficient for me to buy most of it from a local farm. Winning all around!
With 10-13 onions that I need to chop alone cutting all of this takes a lot of time. My method may not work for everyone, but I have found some ways to cut down on time. I highly recommend using glass containers for overnight storage to avoid plastic discoloration and permanent smell.
Onions I have a small food processor that I use for the onions. I simply cut them into large chunks, then pulse them until they are roughly the size I want. It takes less than 2 minutes. I don’t do these too far ahead of time because they don’t take as much time. I still like to slice up my green onions because I’m a bit OCD on how I like those cut. I typically don’t use many so it doesn’t take much time.
Bell Peppers These can be cut the day before. I don’t worry too much about uniform shapes, it doesn’t matter much when they are getting mixed into soups and casseroles. I just make sure that they are small enough to fit on my spoon with other ingredients when I eat the finished product. I cut off the bottom and top, pull out the center, then slice in half, then slice in strips and chop those up. I could run them through the food processor, but I’ve found it makes them a bit smaller than what I like. I then store them in prep containers in the refrigerator and labeled with what they will go in.
Tip: When storing your prep containers for multiple recipes try to group the containers by recipe to save time trying to find the one that you need.
Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens I don’t cut these ahead of time unless I am freezing some of them. They don’t stay fresh long and tend to wilt a bit once cut and stored. When I plan for cooking multiple days I tend to put the recipes that have these veggies first in line so that they stay nice and fresh.
Potatoes These do not fare well overnight if you cut them ahead of time. I typically cut these while I’m waiting for my water to boil.
Carrots and Celery Carrots definitely last longer in the refrigerator than celery, but both can be cut early if stored correctly. Diced tends to do better than sliced, but I’ve done both a day ahead. I’ve found that if I don’t have much air space in the container they are fine to do a day ahead of time. Especially if they are just going into soup or a pot pie mixture. If using on a salad you may want to add in some water to keep their crispness.
Tip: Organize your recipes not only by what pots and pans you will need, but also by ingredients. This saves time when you aren’t able to cut produce more than a day ahead.
Tomatoes I definitely cut these ahead of time and use a special slicer for softer veggies to save time, especially when making tomato soup. Fresh garden tomatoes tend to be a bit too juicy for the food processor, so the slicer comes in handy. You can use a food processor with these to save time. However, slicing and roasting in the oven before adding to the dish gives them a better flavor. You can store these roasted or raw overnight.
Mushrooms Mushrooms do not do well once sliced, so these I don’t do ahead of time. The special slicer I have for tomatoes I also use for the mushrooms. I can typically slice 4-5 at once so cutting them goes quickly. I prefer mine sliced to chopped, but a food chopper would also work.
Cabbage I actually never have cut this ahead of time to see how it would store in the refrigerator. I typically prep my cabbage while I have one soup simmering on the stove and onion and garlic started for the one with the cabbage. I treat it more like kale/spinach/collard greens.
For me organization and a couple of kitchen tools helps me to save time. If you have any tips you’d like to share on how you save time feel free to leave them in the comments. Even though I’ve large prepped numerous times I’m still finding ways to save time!