Meal Planning for beginners

Planning meals out for the week can be a great way to ensure successfully using all of your CSA box each week.  If you are new to the idea of meal planning, it can feel overwhelming, but with a little practice you can be ready for your whole week in an afternoon. We like to pick up our CSA box on Thursday and make our plan then.

Here is a great article that will take you through it from start to finish and offer some great meal planning hacks.  So even if you are a seasoned meal planner, you will get a few great ideas.

Check out: Meal Prep 101: The Beginner’s Guide from Super Foods Life

Here is the simplest tip that gives you the most bang for your buck.

The number one hack for meal prepping comes from Sinéad Fox of Bumbles of Rice: “Cook what you would cook normally, but more of it. Double, triple or, depending on the size of your family and your saucepans, quadruple it.” Proving that batch preparing meals doesn’t have to be complicated!

Making a plan can make a huge difference and it doesn’t take a ton of time.  Check out LotfotL’s Pinterest page for lots of vegetable specific recipes. You can do this and feel great about cooking your own meals from scratch each week.

5 CSA Hacks from LotFotL Community Farm

CSA is a great way to get farm fresh food without maintaining your own garden.  A CSA program provides members with fresh seasonal food throughout the season. You can feel good about what you eat and know that you are supporting local, not to mention, keeping small local agriculture alive and strong. We need our farmers!  At the same time, CSA can take some life style changes, or at the very least, some time commitment that not all of us feel like we have.  Here are 5 quick CSA hacks that will help make sure that you avoid the crisper drawer guilt and actually use your delicious food.

  1. Choose a CSA with a SWAP option:  LotFotL Community Farm sends a SWAP box to each pick up site so that members can swap out veggies that they won’t eat for items they are more interested in. Let’s face it, if you don’t like the food, you won’t eat it. You may also know a friend or neighbor that will trade veggies with you.
  2. Make an EAT list for on the fridge: A good old fashioned magnetic white board works great for this.  If you do a quick update of this when you bring your box home each week, it will help you to prioritize what needs eating so you have less waste. You can keep track of left overs that still need to be eaten, veggies left from the week before, and items that have a shorter shelf life from your new box (greens, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, etc.). Check out Eat By Date and see how to store your veggies and how long they last.
  3. Make a grocery list and go shopping: If you can figure out how you want to use your fresh veggies and what you will need to do that, you empower yourself to actually use the food with no excuses.  If you are more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of cook, like me, you should make sure that you keep a good supply of staple foods on hand so that when you decide to fly, the seat of your pants won’t let you down. Staples for me are things like, rice, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, cheese, flour, spices, noodles, etc.
  4. Clean and prep items that you will be using soon: If you have more time, say on a Sunday or something, use that day to set yourself up for the week.  Go ahead and clean and prep the veggies that you will be using in the next couple of days.  After a busy day, knowing your onions and carrots are chopped and ready to go and the broccoli is cleaned and washed already, can make quick work of a stir-fry.  It could just be the difference between frozen pizza and a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients. Good storage containers can also help prolong your foods shelf life, an herb container is great, as is good veggie containers.
  5. Make a batch of rice and keep it in the fridge: I make a batch of rice each week and keep it in the fridge so that I have the foundation for rice bowls, fried rice, and stir-fry type foods at my finger types.  Can you tell I am a fan of Asian style foods?  They lend themselves so well to quick, delicious food, made with fresh ingredients. Fried rice is fast and versatile, you can make it with so many different food combinations once you understand the basic method. It is also a great way to use gobs of greens all at once, ever use your napa cabbage in a Chinese noodle dish?

Recipe

Sweet and Sour Sauce with turnips, cabbage, carrots, and onion

Ingredients

  • 3 Onions
  • 3-4 Carrots sliced
  • 4-6 cups Cabbage, coarsely diced
  • 4-6 cups Turnips, cubes
  • 1 tbsp Ginger, ground or 2 tsp fresh Ginger chopped
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Molasses or maple syrup
  • 1 T Cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp ketchup
  • 3 cups cooked Brown Rice

Instructions

  • Heat your favorite oil in your wok. Add cut veggies, ginger (and extra hot sauce if you wish) mix well. Add a little water, if necessary, until the veggies are tender.
  • While the veggies are cooking, pour the vinegar and molasses into a measuring cup, add the soy sauce, ketchup, and the cornstarch and mix well.
  • When the turnips, cabbage and onions are cooked add additional cornstarch to the sauce as necessary and mix well. Reduce the heat to simmer, add the sauce, and continue stir-frying until the sauce thickens and evenly coats all the veggies. Mix well before serving.
  • Serve over a bed of brown rice and enjoy!
http://lotfotl.com/sweet-and-sour-sauce-with-turnips-cabbage-carrots-and-onion/

 

Washing greens!

Washing greens!

Your farm fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, Asian greens, etc.) will appreciate a good washing. Best practice is to do this right before you use it. Make sure that your greens come from a trusted source like LotFotL Community Farm that uses good food safety practices to ensure veggies are free from contamination.  Use a sink or container that is good and clean and choose clean fresh water.

Farm Fresh Veggie Lentil Salad

Farm Fresh Veggie Lentil Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups green (french) lentils, rinsed and any debris removed
  • juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lg Red Bell pepper chopped
  • 1 Cup of chopped arugula
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, add lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • In a fry pan, saute the bell pepper until soft, add arugula at the last minute a stir quickly until wilted. Set aside to cool.
  • While the lentils cool, in a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, ginger, and honey. On top of dressing, add tomato, feta, parsley, bell pepper, and arugula, and cooled lentils. Stir ingredients to combine and coat with dressing.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy immediately or keep covered in fridge.
http://lotfotl.com/fresh-fall-veggie-lentil-salad/

 

Turnip-Corn Chowder

Turnip-Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 3 T butter or lard (did you know that lard is about 50% monounsaturated fat!?....that is the good stuff)
  • 1 onion, chipped
  • 1 bunch of turnips (scarlet, gold ball, purple,and hakurei will all work), cubed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 5 cups broth
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 2-3 turnip or kohlrabi, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or 1 1/3 cup milk)

Instructions

  • Heat fat on med-high heat, add onion, turnip, potato. Saute, making sure to cover the vegetables with fat.
  • When onions are soft, add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, simmer for about 30 minutes. Puree the onion-turnip-potato mixture in a blender then bring back to the pot and keep simmering.
  • Add corn and grated veggies and let simmer for 10 minutes more. If the soup is too thick, add 1/4 cup water or broth until the soup is to your liking. At the last minute add your milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with fresh arugula if you like.
http://lotfotl.com/turnip-corn-chowder/

Potatoes and greens

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed well (collards, kale, chard, and mustard all work well)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • ¾ pound yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon gold

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch for 2-4 minutes (hearty greens like collard and kale take longer than chard or mustard), and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain and squeeze out extra water. Chop coarsely. Set aside the cooking water.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a wide, lidded skillet or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook about three minutes. Add salt and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Stir in the greens and then add 1 cup of the cooking water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring often and adding more cooking water from time to time, so that the greens are always simmering in a small amount of liquid.
  3. While the greens are cooking, scrub the potatoes and add to the pot with the cooking water. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the cooking water, and allow to cool slightly so that you can peel them if you wish. Cut them into large chunks.
  4. Uncover the greens, and add the potatoes. Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, crush the potatoes and stir into the greens. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and stir over low heat until the greens and potatoes are well combined. Enjoy!

Summer Bounty Peanut Chicken Collard Wraps

Ingredients

  • 5 collard leaves
  • 1/2 Cup creamy nut butter (peanut butter works great)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey(optional)
  • 1/3 cup cooked whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro)
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken (from about 8 ounces chicken)
  • 2 carrots peeled then halved and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 kohlrabi sliced and cut into 1/2 pieces (can use radishes if you have them)
  • 1/2 summer squash cut into bite sized strips (use bell peppers when in season)
  • 25 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green onions sliced paper thin
  • 1 handful roasted salted peanuts (chopped)

Instructions

Fill a pot with an inch of water, insert a steam basket and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Wash the collard leaves and remove the majority (the toughest part) of the center stem from each leaf. When the water is simmering, add the leaves and lower the heat to medium. Steam until the leaves are brighter green and soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and rinse under cold water. Pat each leaf dry before using.

Make the peanut sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, honey, and 1/3 cup hot water and whisk until smooth.

Optional: I like to flash stir fry all of the veggies (minus the mint) for a minute or two before I make these, but you can use them raw too.

To assemble, place a collard leaf on a work surface and overlap the center seam where you cut out the stem. Spread a spoonful of peanut butter sauce on the middle of the collard leaf then sprinkle a spoonful of grains on top. Layer in chicken, veggies and herbs, and peanuts. Roll up into a cylinder then cut crosswise into 2 to 3 pieces. Serve with additional peanut sauce.

Recipe adapted from Peanut Chicken Collard Greens from Salt and Wind.