I find the most challenging part of eating seasonally is meal planning. I usually plan my meals, buy the produce, cook and eat. This is the first week I’ve bought the generic seasonal fruit and veggie box and then had to do my meal planning in reverse.
It was wonderful to walk a few blocks to pick up the box from another home in my neighbourhood, come home to unpack it and see this fantastic range of local produce!
And it was a bit daunting – what on earth was I going to cook with all this?
But let me take a step back first and explain why I got the veggie box in the first place
1. Sustainability – it’s what’s at peak season locally at the moment, so it’s the most sustainable way to eat (less energy intensive, no chemicals, less waste, less food miles)
2. Nutrient density – it’s at peak season and so fresh it was picked only a couple of days before, so each veggie will be at its greatest nutrient density (as opposed to being refridgerated or weeks old)
3. Variety – I like to get a variety of different nutrient sources in my diet but often fall in to a routine of repeating my favourite meals, so this forces me to vary my meals
4. Supporting local farmers – knowing how many veggies boxes have been ordered provides farmers greater financial stability
5. Community – I’ve missed having a community, and supporting local community agriculture helps reconnect me with like-minded people nearby
6. Cost efficiency – if I’m willing to take whatever produce is in plenty of supply it’s easier on the wallet
7. I love the challenge and that it would force me to be more creative
What I received in the box was a combination of fruits, herbs, asian greens, root veggies, squash, avocado, mushrooms and some heirloom cabbage I didn’t recognise. Here’s the breakdown
- apples (I ordered some extra too)
- bananas (I ordered more of these too)
- kiwi fruit
- salad greens
- unidentifiable heirloom cabbage
- spring onion
Thanks to my mum and sister-in-law’s gardens I also had extra avocadoes, tomatoes, limes, chili, pomegranate, passionfruit, oranges and lemons on hand.
In order to meal plan I had to first come up with what dishes I could make with this combination. My first thought is always about salad followed by smoothies, and given its getting colder I’d have to come up with some warm dishes too. So, I had brainstorm along the following categories
The meal options I came up with were
- pear, parmesan, and pine nut salad with lemon dressing
- steak, cucumber, (leftover tomato) and blue cheese salad
- pumpkin, cauliflower, eggplant and chick pea salad with basil pesto dressing
- wombok, mushroom, spring onion, cashew, chilli and basil stirfry
- kale, pumpkin, pomegranate and pine nut hash
- zucchini fritatta (okay, it’s not a scramble but it’s still eggy)
- end of week fridge clear out scramble
- green minestrone soup
- sheppard’s pie with cauliflower crust (the way I make it is pretty stew-like)
- kale, banana, orange, ginger and blueberry smoothie
- orange, carrot, ginger, kiwi fruit, apple and pear smoothie
- smokey baba ghanoush with cucumber sticks
- key lime pie
- grilled fish with avocado, tomato, lime and coriander salsa
All I had left at the end of the week was some cabbage, which I can use this week in soup, so I’m pretty happy with how I went.
Have you taken the seasonal veggie box challenge yet? How did you go about reverse meal planning? What did you find the hardest item to use, and did you have anything left over? Do you have any tips you can share?