Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meal Planning or Making the Most of Your CSA

I haven't done a cooking post in awhile, and since Spring is theoretically around the corner and our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share has begun again, I'm in the mood to start thinking about culinary fun. I was talking with a friend the other day about how to make the most of the fresh fruits and veggies each week in the CSA, and we came to the conclusion that *TA DA* meal planning was the best solution.

I'm not the world's biggest planner, nor do I find the exercise particularly enjoyable, but I have decided that if I want to "Waste not, Want not" with our food, I HAVE to plan. Originally, I thought having a master list of dinner favorites would be the best option, but after eating squash soup for weeks, it was definitely no longer a "favorite" and I decided to come up with a new plan.

My current idea is to sort menus by Month, including what is in season and the best recipes we have found using those ingredients. Because the basis of the recipes, the veggies, will vary by season we should get a nice variety of dishes.

For example, this second week of March in the CSA we received:

2 bags Salad Mix
Frozen Blueberries
Dozen eggs

The meal plan for this week looks something like this:

Wheatberry/Chicken Waldorf Salad - uses the wheatberries, apples, & salad mix

Turkey sandwiches and Broccoli soup - takes potatoes, broccoli & lettuce for sandwiches

Cheese Tortellini soup w/Kale - kale & onion

Turkey Burgers w/Salad - onion & salad mix

Linguine with Garlic & Tuna- frozen green beans from last summer's CSA

French Winter Soup w/Crusty Bread - takes onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga

We try to eat meatless at least once a week (better for the environment, leaves less of a carbon footprint, and is healthier for you too!). I also plan to have a couple of healthy snacks lying around. This week I'm going to use the frozen blueberries with some plain yogurt, and the pears with some cottage cheese. The kids love these and I feel better giving them something protein-filled and healthy!

Since I am a habitual breakfast skipper, I've also gotten in the habit of making one egg dish casserole per week, hard-boiling a half-dozen eggs, and making a batch of muffins. This way, no matter what my schedule, I have no excuse not to eat!!
I'm also happy that local and sustainable eating will gain more attention since Michelle Obama has announced healthful eating as one of her platforms. The White House can be a powerful influence for change by example. After all, when Kennedy gave up wearing hats, so did the rest of the nation :).
I hope this has inspired you to think about what you can do with the seasonal produce from your gardens, CSAs and grocery stores. I'd love to hear from you if you have any tips on meal planning. It seems to be one of those Mom chores where there is always room for improvement!


Lauren said...

Nice, that produce looks yummy! I love fresh fruit, especially.

Emilee said...

You're very ambitious!

I was a menu-planner for a few years there, back when our budget was reeealllly tight. But my system was pretty simple. I had a rotation of maybe 15-20 meals and only occassionally sprinkled in something new.

These days I only cook once or twice a week for Sam and don't cook at all for Brian and myself, so I'm taking vicarious inspiration from you. I really should get my act together ...