CSA Survival Tips: Tip #1: Prep for the Week Ahead

Did the title give you pause? How could having a CSA be anything better than absolutely thriving and loving every second of it??

Ok, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture shares) ARE awesome. But, if it is your first year as a share-holder, the bounty can sometimes be overwhelming. I wanted to post a few tips, and will do so throughout the summer, to help people out – this could be first-time shareholders, or people with a new situation in their life (new job, new baby, just moved, etc) that makes it all seem like new again. Even us old-timers (I use that term loosely, since CSA’s have been around for 20 odd years, give or take, and this is our 4th season as shareholders. But, its true. Many, many people don’t ever re-up after their first year – perhaps you were one of them? It is sad,   but, again – bounty = overwhelm sometimes!)

There is a point where the bounty can be stressful. And, you paid goooood money for it, and you really don’t want to waste it. But there is also a point where you, as the house-chef, wonder if you can look at another head of bok choy again (my own personal struggle).

Ok, without further ado, here is my first T.I.P. (To Insure Prompt-eating-of-vegetables):

Take the time to prepare your veggiesfor use throughout the week, no later than 24 hours after they arrive.

What you do:

  • Set aside a time each week to delight in opening your box, munch something right away, and then get out knives, cutting boards, your mandoline or food processor, etc, and then get out bags, tupperware, glass jars, etc. And go to town.
  • Chop some of your greens really finely (spinach, arugular, bok choy, cabbage) to add to sauces and soups. Juilienne or crinkle cut some more of them, to add to stir fry.
  • Cut up at least one tray or container of veggies you can eat fresh. When you kids complain of being hungry even after you fed them 10 minutes ago (anyone? anyone?) direct them to that tray and let them go to town. If they resist, stare at them blankly. Or walk away. They’ll catch on eventually.
  • Carrots, broccoli, and peppers (even onions!) could be cut up and ‘barely blanched’ – steam them until you notice the first hint of a color change. This makes them a little softer either for eating fresh, or nearly ready for a bit of a longer steam to add as a sidedish or accompaniment to a meal. *Credit to my incredible sister-in-law, C., who taught me this trick. Thank you, dear one!
  • Herbs you receive that you will use within the week can be left as is. But, if you get a lot of an herb, consider drying or freezing it for later use (more on that in a future tip).
  • Look at the recipes that probably came with your veggie box (most CSA’s provide some sort of newsletter, usually with some simple tried and true recipes), or take the time now to search out several recipes for veggies in your weekly share, especially those that are not so familiar.

Why this works:

For those used to putting together a weekly menu plan, this tip might not be so challenging. But for those who are new to the concept or really not into it, this tip forces you to think ahead a bit. While you need not write down what you’ll make when, you’ll take comfort in the fact that your veggies are already prepped and ready to go, making it much easier to include them in just about everything. And why within 24 hours? The sooner the better – just looking at the veggies, handling, chopping, steaming them – will get your mind working on what you’ll do with them. This is probably especially important if you’re just plain new to eating this much veggies! Your mind will work on the ‘wonderful problem’ of alllll these veggies while you’re not even conscious of it – and you’ll start to think differently as you’re preparing your meals.

Watch for upcoming tips in the next couple of weeks, such as:” the rhythm of the CSA week”, “tackling unfamiliar veggies”,”easy ways to preserve the CSA harvest and extend the fresh veggie year” and, “throwing zucchini on your neighbors porch, ringing the doorbell, and running away fast.”

7 thoughts on “CSA Survival Tips: Tip #1: Prep for the Week Ahead

  1. inherchucks says:

    Awesome post! These tips are sure to come in handy.

    I host a weekly CSA link party and would love for you to be a part of it. You touched on many important issues in this post that would be helpful to share with other CSA participants. Come and link up so others can benefit from your wisdom 🙂 http://inherchucks.com/2012/06/06/whats-in-the-box-29/. Hope to see you there!

  2. Tammy says:

    You are so right. I have a MUCH calmer week when I take time to do this. The other thing that I find beneficial is to roast some vegetables. I have a jar of roasted beets right now that are so easy to throw on salads or into pasta or…

    • Laura says:

      Indeed. Sometimes the tough part is finding time, at the beginning the CSA week, to do this! It definitely has its ups and downs, for me, personally. Thanks, Tammy –

  3. Those are some great tips, especially the bit about the herbs! I learned really quickly last year to clean my veggies right away! Since my pickups are Saturday mornings, I get there early and spend the hour to get everything done, and then it’s time for lunch! I also learned that any kind of green covered in sauce/salsa and cheese with some rice/beans is a great way to get in those leafy veggies!

    • Laura says:

      I couldn’t agree more – sauces, salsas and cheese are some of my favorite …. condiments? I don’t need ketchup in my house! ha! Thanks for reading! And commenting!

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