When in Doubt, Dice it Up!
One of the questions I get asked often is, “How does Riley eat so many vegetables?!” And while I really think that the key to this was how we introduced her to solids, a huge thing we do now is dice up anything she doesn’t like really, really small. Fun fact, dicing up vegetables works to sneak them in for adults too. Trust me, I’m the picky one in a lot of ways! There are several veggies I did not like AT ALL in dishes, such as squash, mushrooms, and cooked carrots. Cooked carrots were the bane of my existence in childhood. They are the one vegetable to this day that I will buy “pre-chopped.” Our household uses matchstick carrots. Then, I dice them up even MORE fine and throw them into dishes.
Some of the easiest, and I mean EASIEST ways to sneak in diced vegetables are in the following types of dishes: casseroles, sauces, chili/stew, and meatballs or sausage.
Here are my favorite vegetables to sneak into anything. I get these from Aldi or Walmart and encourage you to shop your cheapest produce place too!
- Carrots – since I already mentioned them, the matchstick carrots are already very thin, so you can dice them up very quickly! All you need is a sharp knife.
- Onions – seriously, any onion of any variety can be chopped up really really small. If you saute them before adding to a dish, onions nearly disappear! I recently got a mini-food processor from Aldi (click here to see a similar one). As a child I hated onions, and I carried this dislike into my adulthood until I realized that onions don’t have to be in huge chunks or slimy strings. Now, they go into just about everything.
- $Money Saver$ – don’t get picky about the “type” of onion in a recipe. I buy whatever kind is the cheapest at Aldi that week. Click here to read my post on how we meal plan/shop/prep on a super tight budget!
- Mushrooms – this vegetable seems to really be a “love it or hate it.” For those who hate mushrooms, 9 times out of 10 it’s solely because of texture. I get you people. I am with you too! That’s why you dice them up so fine (or again, use that food processor) and always saute them. The saute part is key because it breaks them down and when included in a different dish, allows them to really mesh with the other ingredients. I may not hate them anymore, but I still don’t appreciate large mushroom pieces. Thankfully, my husband loves them. It’s kind of like the “olive theory” from Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother, except for Travis and I, the like/dislike is real. Side note, I love olives and he hates them so we definitely pass that theory.
- Celery – this one can be a little tricky because of how tough celery stalks are. Typically, I will add them into other dishes more so to use up the celery vs just trying to get in extra veggies. But, in a pinch, it adds bulk and prevents food waste! I dice them up finely (I have not yet tried a food processor, so if you have ever done that let me know if it works well please!) Then, I saute them in ghee for several minutes. I always use ghee because I love how the flavor coats the celery and helps the vegetable to break down. Click here for my easy 3 step ghee recipe (no cheesecloth needed!) Also, make sure to cook the celery longer than you would onions, the celery takes time to break down.
- Bell Peppers – I don’t know about you, but bell peppers are expensive! I swear when I was in college they were cheap, but nowadays they feel like a splurge! Even at Aldi or Sam’s Club! So the only time (and I mean ONLY) time I dice these up is if they are really wrinkled and didn’t get used in a recipe like they should’ve.
- $Money Saver$ – Make sure to save the seeds and “tops.” Roast them up and add into your veggie scrap container for veggie broth! I just save them and add into whatever I roast next.
- Squash – This can be zucchini or yellow (or any let’s get real). My favorite way to add in squash is to spiralize, then dice. I use a super cheap countertop spiralizer, the “vegetti pro” I highly recommend one of these countertop ones over the small handheld kind. You will save yourself so much time, and won’t cramp your wrists in the process.
Those are my personal favorites to add into anything and get in some extra veggies or use up almost-bad vegetables. As always, remember to save veggie scraps to make veggie broth! Never buy broth again, especially if you have an instant pot or other pressure cooker. Click here for my easy instant pot veggie broth recipe! So tasty, so easy, so good for you, and will save you even more!
Did I miss one of your favorite sneaky vegetables? Tell me in the comments and I’ll give it a try 🙂
Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd, Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)