Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Why Cabbage is One of the Best Buys of the Produce Section

January 16th, 2014 · 41 Comments · Frugality, Tips

Cabbage has the unfortunate notoriety of looking an awful lot like iceberg lettuce.

Plus, it’s in coleslaw, which no one is really swinging around as a health food.

And its random presence in bagged lettuce just screams, “I’m SO not important. I’m just a token.” Like the parsley garnishing your dinner plate, you probably don’t pay much attention to cabbage.

I used to think it was in the same nutritional boat as iceberg lettuce, which is to say “just a step above water but with more chewing.”

Boy, was I wrong.

5 Reasons You Need to Buy Cabbage

Cabbage (11)WM

1. It’s Nutritious!

Putting cabbage in bed with iceberg was very unfair of me. I hope cabbage will forgive me.

Cabbage is actually a great source of Vitamin K (almost 100% DV) and 50% DV of Vitamin C.  It’s a good source of fiber and packed with antioxidants, which actually last 3-4 days after eating!  Red cabbage fights Alzheimer’s. (source)

Cabbage is Nutritious

No, cabbage is no small fry when it comes to nourishing your body.

2. It’s very inexpensive

Cabbage is Inexpensive

At well under a dollar per pound, it’s a  no-brainer to compare ounce for ounce with a one-pound clamshell of lettuce for $5 or even the $1.29/lb. head of Romaine (non-organic).

When that Romaine goes on sale for 99c/lb., cabbage still typically knocks its socks off at about 59c/lb., and down below 20c/lb. for St. Patrick’s Day. Stock up!

3. You can cook or eat it raw

CabbageWMSalad

Choose cabbage.

Part of the trouble with lettuce is that if you don’t want a salad for whatever reason, there’s really nothing else most people do with lettuce, so it gets slimy.

With cabbage, not only does it make a great salad, but you can make it into a soup like this one , cook it with ground beef and put it over rice like the free printable recipe on this page (scroll down to the green box and enter your email), add it to any number of stir fry or casserole recipes like Shepherd’s Pie, and even slice, steam and freeze it for later. (That ground beef recipe comes together in minutes with pre-cooked ground beef and frozen cabbage.)

cabbage soup (2)

Because it’s versatile, you can (a) use it faster, (b) avoid monotony, and (c) prevent food waste. Ah, the humble cabbage, saving the world again.

4. You can ferment it like crazy.

Classic ferments like sauerkraut and kimchi use cabbage as the base, so this versatile food can be made more healthy by fermentation. Fermented cabbage has even more Vitamin C than before, and it lasts a long time, too, with all the benefits of raw food.

5. It lasts two weeks

CabbageWM2

This is my favorite part, because it can revolutionize your shopping.

I just read someone saying that they couldn’t even shop once a week because produce goes bad well before 7 days.

I can go 2 weeks without touching a grocery store, and we eat fresh, raw salads every single night. Cabbage is the secret.

When you go the store, buy lettuce for a week (it gets slimy after that anyway) and a head of cabbage.

goat cheese on cabbage

Hang onto the cabbage until you run out of lettuce, and then cut into the cabbage for your salad. This cabbage salad is our favorite (with red onions on top). I don’t even need the recipe anymore!

As long as we have carrots, garlic, onions, frozen vegetables, maybe some cherry tomatoes and cauliflower, plus our spotlight cabbage, we can buy two weeks of produce at once without losing any food to slimy-produce-drawer-itis.

Buy some cabbage.

Your pocketbook will thank you.

And no, this post wasn’t compensated by the big spenders in the produce section…cabbages don’t have advertising budgets. Winking smile

Ways to use cabbage:

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41 Comments so far ↓

  • Karen in MI

    I just tried a recipe I found on Facebook. It was great and even my cabbage “dislikers” said they would eat it again! Take raw cabbage, slice it into 1″ thick slices. Rub fresh, chopped garlic on one side, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle sea salt. Repeat on other side. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes on middle rack, flip “steaks” over and bake for another 30 minutes. Cabbage is done with edges are brown and slightly crispy.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Mmmm, I bet it caramelizes just a little…divine! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laurie

    Our favorite winter salad is finely chopped red cabbage, diced oranges and diced apples in any ratio you want. It is the best! A simple dressing to go with it: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a bit of honey, and a bit of Dijon mustard.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elaine

    As someone with 4 cabbages in the frig and more to pick in the garden…thank you for this article.

    Trying out several new recipes and I’m Definitely trying that cabbage salad with Goat Cheese today. :0)

    Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathryn Arnold

    Cabbage is one of my staple foods. I eat it every day because it is so economical and is easy to prepare in tasty ways. I actually miss it if I leave it out of my weekly stew. Now that I have a kitchen, ferments of cabbage using water kefir grains is high on my list of anticipated activities.

    I read not long ago that there is a GMO cabbage coming out. Like GMO pineapple, that’s horrible news to me.

    Other than steaming, is there any way to use crucifers like cabbage without triggering the goiterogenic properties?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathleen K

    With growing boys now in the never ending appetite stage and an unchanging or even shrinking food budget, we had to stop eating $7.50/lb salad blends. (Sale price locally) Enter cabbage. Usually I make a large batch of cole slaw that can store in the fridge for several days without going bad. If I use raw apple cider vinegar or home cultured buttermilk in the dressing, we get even more health benefits.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jan J.

    I can’t find that beef and cabbage recipe and I really want to see it. I scrolled down and I clicked on the link and it was about healthy packed lunches – my searcher couldn’t find a reference to cabbage on there – help!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lalia Reply:

    Ditto. A search of your website didn’t find it either.

    PS we had a cabbage salad with dinner last night.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Totally right, I forgot that I don’t actually name the recipe on that page – I was just glad I remembered it was there when I was finishing up this post. Sorry to confuse you!

    It’s the “free downloadable recipe” for that book, so somewhere about 2/3 down the page you can enter your email address and get it emailed to you to print out or view on the computer.

    Hope you enjoy it! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry we weren’t clear! If you click the link to the page you are taken to The Healthy Lunch Box – look for the green box for signing up for the monthly newsletter. When you sign up you’ll receive the download link for the recipe in your inbox. If you are already signed up for the newsletter you won’t get duplicates – just the recipe :) Hope this helps!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jan,
    Oh, shoot, sorry – you’re right, I don’t think the page lists the actual recipe name. It’s the “free downloadable recipe” for that book, so somewhere about 2/3 down the page you can enter your email address and get it emailed to you to print out or view on the computer.

    Glad you asked! (and I hope it’s worth the wait!) :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Robyn

    As Jan J. already noted, I can’t find the Beef & Cabbage Over Rice recipe?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry we weren’t clear! If you click the link to the page you are taken to The Healthy Lunch Box – look for the green box for signing up for the monthly newsletter. When you sign up you’ll receive the download link for the recipe in your inbox. If you are already signed up for the newsletter you won’t get duplicates – just the recipe :) Hope this helps!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry about that Robyn! I forgot that the actual recipe name isn’t on the page when I added that link to this post. It’s the “free downloadable recipe” for that book, so somewhere about 2/3 down the page you can enter your email address and get it emailed to you to print out or view on the computer.

    Enjoy! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amanda

    Cabbage pairs amazingly well with bacon. We eat cabbage for breakfast around here. I also saute it then mix with scrambled eggs. Sounds strange, but tastes really good and filling too. A nice alternative to hash browns.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    That sounds DIVINE to me, truly. Of course, bacon is pretty good with just about anything… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Alisa

    I would love that beef and cabbage recipe but can’t seem to find it. Clicked on the link and scrolled down…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Helen @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry we weren’t clear! If you click the link to the page you are taken to The Healthy Lunch Box – look for the green box for signing up for the monthly newsletter. When you sign up you’ll receive the download link for the recipe in your inbox. If you are already signed up for the newsletter you won’t get duplicates – just the recipe :) Hope this helps!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Alisa,
    Sorry about that! It’s the “free downloadable recipe” for that book, so somewhere about 2/3 down the page you can enter your email address and get it emailed to you to print out or view on the computer.
    Enjoy! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • katrina

    Katie,

    If your lettuce goes bad after a week, you need a new container! I adore my Tupperware Fridge Smart containers! http://order.tupperware.com/coe/app/tup_show_item.show_item_detail?fv_item_category_code=18002&fv_item_number=P10107633000
    I can easily go MORE than 2 weeks, even with baby varieties and spinich. Check it out!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brandi

    Organic? How does conventional cabbage stack up?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Brandi,
    I don’t see organic at my store, but I’m almost positive that cabbage is on the “clean 15″ list, which means it’s very low in chemicals (yay!).

    Good question! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen

    When my husband wanted to eat healthier, one of my go-to meals was cabbage rolls. No wheat, no cheese, very low sugar. Also, I recently read that red cabbage is the cheapest source of antioxidants. Love the tip about using cabbage the second week. Genius!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Karen,
    That makes sense – red cabbage is such a deep color, just beautiful! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • BeccaM

    I buy large quantities of cabbage and make sauerkraut with it. Easy to do, and it tastes yummy, especially mixed in soup on a cold winter day.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachel B

    I really love cabbage in stir-fry – lots of it, among other dishes. Unfortunately, I have some thyroid issues and was advised to limit the amount I eat. :(

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kathleen K Reply:

    I too have thyroid issues, have for years. Several years ago, I could not eat any cruciferous veggies without feeling the effects, mainly unbearable tiredness, with raw being even more so. For whatever reason, I can eat them 4 or 5 times a week without a problem.

    I have no idea what changed. So what I’m saying is that it is very individual andyou need to find out what works best for you.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joanne Cannella

    Our family LOVES cabbage all ways but one of our favorite (and anyone else who tastes it) is to saute chopped cabbage with a sliced onion in a little olive oil. Add some salt and a tiny bit of Sucanat or brown sugar. Salute until it starts to brown. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover and simmer until just tender. It is so yummy.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    And so simple! Thanks for sharing!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Angela

    Katie – This is the perfect opportunity to thank you for introducing me to cabbage. I tried your Beef and Cabbage recipe from the Healthy Lunch Box book and it was a complete hit at my house. It’s so easy and delicious. I now make it once a week and use the leftover cabbage in other recipes. Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Aw, that’s so cool Angela! I never used cabbage myself until a few years ago, and a variation of that recipe was one that made me want to buy it more often! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anastasia @ eco-babyz

    Hey I just bought some yesterday to ferment! :) It’ll be my first time – hopefully I get around to it faster than the last one I bought that half rotted and I had to ‘save’ the other half by sauteeing it :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Prerna @ The Mom Writes

    We LOVE cabbage.. Yep:) We’re mainly vegetarian and cabbage is very easily available here in India.. So, once a week, lunch does mean either cabbage with peas or cabbage and potatoes, with plenty of garlic, ginger, red onions and tomatoes, a dash of turmeric for added flavor! Yum-my:) Am going to try the fermenting thing though.. That looks interesting!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Prerna,
    You’re cracking me up saying just “cabbage and peas” and then adding like 5 other things! Sounds like yummy to me! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Renee P.

    I just started enjoying cabbage last spring when I started eating mostly paleo – had to find a whole bunch of new veggies! I used to only eat it raw, but I have found that I actually love it more when it’s cooked. I have your lunch book, will have to check out that recipe!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • casey

    What great timing!

    I just joined a CSA (first delivery on Sat) and this week I am getting two kinds of cabbage. It is not my favorite vegetable – I usually only eat it steamed with corned beef on St. Paddy’s. I wasn’t sure what i was going to do with it but now i have all these great ideas! I see you have a kimchi recipe post – any sauerkraut ones?

    Also, this morning on the Houston NBC station (www.click2houston.com) they did a segment about winter white veggies and how wonderful they are for you – especially now that they are in season. If you go to the website there should be a link on the homepage to the story.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Casey,
    Here’s (sort of) one when I checked my bookmarks: http://www.picklemetoo.com/2012/11/16/fermentation-friday-sauerkraut-troubleshooting/ and http://gnowfglins.com/ is sure to have one or two. Or this spicy one! http://nourishedkitchen.com/hot-pink-jalapeno-garlic-kraut/

    That’s awesome about the news story! It’s rare that I’m not behind the times… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    casey Reply:

    cool thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathryn Arnold

    This page describes how to make sauerkraut and kimchi using water kefir grains instead of brine or whey…. http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirkraut.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Melissa Carr

    Only thing with cabbage, once you cut into it, it starts loosing vitamins. The content of vitamins decreases FAST once it is cut into, especially vitamin C. If the cabbage has already been cut, the rest cannot be stored more than two or three days.
    http://www.dietobio.com/aliments/en/cabbage.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mamalaoshi

    We’ve been eating cabbage every week lately. It’s so easy to cook with too.
    Our favorite coleslaw- shredded with apples, raisins, and red onions.
    Stir-fry with some onions and sausage.
    Stuff leftover cooked cabbage in some bread dough for pierogis (roll flat like a mini-pizza and then fold over the top, then bake)
    Shredded with onions and other spices put into wonton wrappers/springroll wrappers, then fried or steamed.

    A trick I learned when cooking with cabbage- slice or shred it first, then sprinkle salt on it. Toss it in a colander and leave it for 15 minutes or more. A small puddle of water will drain out and your dish will not end up soggy. This is essential if you are going to put cabbage in pierogis or dumplings.

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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