8 Tips for Using Your Farm Share Veggies
Joining a farm share or CSA is good for your health and the environment. But figuring out what to do with all those veggies isn’t always easy. Here are 8 tips for using your farm share veggies.
It’s the local growing season, which means every week I wait with anticipation for Tuesday to roll around so I can see what’s in my weekly farm share.
There is nothing like picking up a weekly load of freshly harvested, locally grown vegetables. If you are super lucky, you may also have the option of adding fruit, herbs, eggs, cheese, bread, and flowers. (Consider me super lucky!)
One of the number one acts of kindness we can do for our bodies is to eat more veggies. But it’s those veggies that most people seem to struggle with. After all, unlike fresh bread or berries, you don’t just put a whole vegetable on a plate and serve it. A little prep is required. And in some cases, a little research to find out what to do with the more unfamiliar veggies.
Tips for Using Your Farm Share Veggies
Since joining our local farm share almost 10 years ago, I’ve gotten much better at using all of the vegetables. Here are some of my tips:
- Wait to plan your weekly meals until after you pick up your farm share. Or, as I suggested in my clean-out your fridge post, break your shopping into a few smaller trips each week. One of my favorite ways to streamline meal planning is to use theme nights. (Seriously, you can put any veggies in tacos on taco night, in Bolognese sauce on pasta night, or in frittatas on breakfast for dinner night!)
- Once you pick up your farm share, make a list of what you got, and then write out a plan for each item. For example:
- Write up a grocery list for any items that you need to complete the recipes.
- If you’re not sure what something is or how to use it, ask! You can ask your farm share coordinator at pick up or do a quick google search. My farm share also provides a weekly newsletter and Facebook group which are both excellent resources.
- Store your veggies properly. For example:
- Root veggies are pretty hardy and can be stored in the refrigerator for longer periods of time than fresh herbs and greens.
- Speaking of greens, be sure to treat them with care, don’t put them under a heavy head of cabbage or a bag of carrots. Lettuce does well rinsed, dried, and then stored with a paper towel in a reusable, sealable plastic bag. You can also look at how to keep lettuce fresh online, for a few different ways to keep your lettuce as fresh as possible. Parsley and cilantro love to stored like fresh flowers, in a glass with water with a plastic bag over the top to keep them extra fresh.
- Also, know which veggies don’t need to be refrigerated, such as tomatoes, winter squash, and potatoes. Eggplant and fresh strawberries can also be left out overnight.
- Prep what you can right away, but know that many veggies will keep longer if you wait to rinse them right before using. Go ahead and prep the lettuce and herbs, and chop any raw veggies that you want on hand for quick snacks and lunch boxes. Another thing you should do is remove the greens from the carrots, beets, and other root veggies and use them to make pesto!
- Plan a simple dinner for the day you get your farm share that uses some of the veggies you got. For example, since I also get bread and eggs, we often have a big salad + fresh bread + eggs (or fish from our fish market or a rotisserie chicken or canned beans–something easy!)
- Clean out your refrigerator weekly. This will help you keep an eye on what you have and make sure nothing gets lost in the back. The good news is that because the farm share veggies are so fresh they usually last longer than store-bought veggies.
- Roast vegetables and then add them to salads, grain bowls, and pasta throughout the week. Here are the veggies I love to roast and have on hand:
- Beets, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, red onion
- If it’s too hot to turn on the stove or oven, look for grilling or salad recipes.
- You can eat most veggies raw in a salad or smoothie, but many benefit from a quick blanch or sauté.
- I also love to get out my food processor and make pestos, sauces, and mashes.
- When in doubt, sauté or stir-fry! You can’t go wrong with a quick sauté. Start with organic canola or Extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and onions. Make it Mediterranean style with some fresh herbs or Asian-style with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
I hope this post inspires you to get excited about your farm share. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling. It took me a long time to get familiar with all the new veggies–and during some busy summer weeks, I still struggle to use all my veggies before the week is up. That’s ok. It’s a learning process. Just do your best and feel grateful for all those veggies. Your body loves them. And your local farmers and the environment thank you!
As for getting your family to taste all the veggies, my tips on that are coming in another post! 😉
Photo credit: Jennifer Shore Photography