Most CSA farms and gardens provide a weekly newsletter – paper or online. The newsletter gives you a heads up on what your box will contain. I would wager that most all of them provide some recipes, too. Some even provide pictures of each item in the box, or even link to videos created by the farm, or by others, so you can so a visual hands-on tutorial about how to use the delicious items contained in your share.
I mentioned menu planning in the first tip. This week let’s delve in a little deeper to discover the fun of menu-planning – yes, it CAN be fun!
Tip #2: Use your weekly newsletter to plan your own menu for the week.
When you get your newsletter, take some time to do the following:
- – gather recipes from online sources or cookbooks and/or read through the ones provided with your share newsletter. My indispensible cookbook is the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) cookbook, “Simply in Season”. If you like a cookbook that is high on tasty things (and can tolerate one that is low on pictures) this one could be just the ticket for you!
- – look up and research any unfamiliar veggies. You could do this online, or email your farmer, or post on facebook, etc.
- – Make a blank menu-planning worksheet on paper with a pencil, or online. Consider if you’ll be going out to eat any of the nights, or if you have an schedule changes that would mean you wouldn’t be eating at home, or if you’ll have guests, or have to bring lunch to work, attend a potluck, etc. Here’s a link to a menu plan, as an example (scroll to the bottom of the page if you don’t have time to read the text): http://donnayoung.org/household/fullsize/kitchen-planner.htm
- – If there are any veggies on the list you haven’t tried, and are skeptical of using, have a back-up plan, such as a friend who likes this particular item. Or, you can also donate to a food pantry, as you can learn about through the Hunger Free ND Garden program and similar programs in your area (check with your church, charitable organization/food pantry or extension service).
- – Donations are also great if there is an item you know you absolutely won’t use (though, please don’t get me started on adults who are picky eaters, especially with veggies. I really can’t stand that. Sorry. I can’t. Grow up and be a good example to the kids. Except where liver is concerned. I do have sympathy in my heart for that one).
There are some easy ways we have included part of our box with every meal (these bonus tips are especially helpful if you forget/refuse to menu plan, or you newsletter comes WITH you box, so you don’t get a lot of advance notice on what it will contain):
- Salads! Salads! Salads! They can be made not only of lettuces, but of any kind of greens, also of carrots, beets, and herbs — oh gosh, and so much more. I throw lots of things in salads.
- Stir fry meals! Ditto what is written above.
- Raw veggies and dip. This is my fav for when the kids start to whine about being hungry a half-hour before dinner. I don’t feel like they’re “ruining” their dinner – they’re just having a healthy appetizer!
- End-of-box-stew or soup with bread. This soup is as varied as our boxes each week. You can throw many things into a soup, chopped roughly, or buzzed in your food processor. Simmer on the stove and just add and tweak until you like how it tastes. I like to keep a couple of cans of crushed tomatoes and some Wildtree Bouillon (click on ‘Soups and Stews for our chicken, beef, and veggie bouillon) on hand for soup bases, when I’m out of homemade chicken and beef broth. This is great for using up the rest of your box’s goodness before the next box arrives.
- Roasted veggies – to have on hand for tossing into a hot or cold pasta dish, with rice, etc. When you are roasting some for one recipe, why not double the batch? Then, you only heat your house up once, and you’ve got the veggies ready to go!
- Shredded veggies for cakes, breads, or other baked goods.
Why this works:
In the first tip, I talked about prepping your veggies for their various uses. This tip really is like tip 1A – these first two tips go hand in hand. The great thing is: You end up using up your box!