Wintertime Green

I have a confession to make. It’s a bit embarrassing, and I only hope I’m not the only one with this problem or, if I am, someone can at least humor me and pretend they suffer from it, too. Well, here it goes:

I am incredibly lazy during the long winter months.

Of course this seasonal laziness affects my evening activities, which typically include reading, watching reruns of my new addiction “The Big Bang Theory” on TBS—I can at least say with pride that I have never watched the entirety of the three-hour marathon on Tuesdays because that, my friends, would be really embarrassing—and basically doing anything that will allow me to stay inside during these frigid days. But, even worse, it affects my eco-friendliness as well. I have a space heater in my even-more-frigid-than-outdoors bedroom, and the only break my new best friend gets from sucking electric and blasting hot air is the eight hours I am at work… well, eight-and-a-half hours, if you count travel time. Honestly, when I get home from work the first thing I do, even before removing my coat and scarf, is turn that baby on, and I leave it on until I put my outdoor apparel on the next morning.

I also find in the winter that I am less inclined to spend the time preparing myself a good meal in the evening, one rich in fresh produce. I could place the blame on the cold itself and say that its presence makes fresh produce scarce and that’s why I’m not cooking it, but let’s be real here: when it’s dark out by the time I get home, I don’t find the idea of spending extra time in the kitchen rinsing, chopping, and steaming all that appealing. I would much rather be back in my heated bedroom, wrapped in a blanket and reading a good book. Hey, that’s what you’re supposed to do during the winter, right?

So, this is the solution I’ve created to my problem of desiring health and convenience (and some warmth) in my cold-weather meals: buy plenty of frozen vegetables. I’m not sure where these bagged goodies fit in an eco-friendly world, but I’m more than ready to justify this habit. While the instructions on most bags say to microwave the vegetables, I always steam them or use them in a stir-fry. It’s just as easy as using fresh produce, and the only prep work you have to do is open the bag. Also, considering I only prepare dinner for myself, a typical bag of vegetables lasts me at least four or five meals, so I’m not contributing much in the way of waste. Plus, you can often recycle frozen food bags, which makes this deal even sweeter (or “greener” in this case).

There is of course the issue of where frozen produce comes from/what’s in it. Cascadian Farm sells organic frozen vegetables, which can be found in larger supermarkets. There is also a company based in Canada called Green Organic specializing entirely in producing frozen organic vegetables. Their products are available at certain Whole Foods stores. To make sure you are getting the best produce, make sure you always check the ingredients on any frozen food you are buying and look for added chemical preservatives.

I have, however, made a resolution to follow this year: when it’s warm again and my days are filled with sun, open windows, and the least amount of layers possible while still remaining decent, I plan on looking forward to the coming cold months and preparing. I would like to take up canning fresh produce so I have a stock to live off of next year.

What are your winter food-prep practices? What tips do you have for staying healthy and mindful while still being efficient? Also, do you have any suggestions for canning food for someone who is new to the practice?