Meal Planning around your CSA
This post is for you if:
- You like to eat dinner at home most nights of the week
- If you prefer to make that dinner yourself
- You order takeout a few nights a week and you feel guilt every time
Spending just 20 minutes thinking about your meals for the week can save you at least five hours in the kitchen a week. Planning your dinners takes a few minutes of thought and a few hours in the kitchen on one day, instead of an hour a night.
You’ll save time, money and sanity, especially if you’re like our family – we work full time out of the home and have side projects when we get home. We have two kids under the age of 5 and 2 fur kids that also need our attention. With a few hours spent planning and cooking on the weekend, dinner during the week can come together in five minutes.
The minimalist plan
I look to my weekly produce delivery for inspiration. A few days in advance, I find out what goodies I’m going to get. Then I create a loose plan to work the organic goodness into healthy meals for the week. Since produce needs to be used up first, I plan everything around produce.
Once I know what fruits and veggies will fill the fridge, I take stock of fridge and pantry for items I need to use up or restock. I choose our dinners for the week, then make a grocery list.
Prep. This is where the fun begins. When you get home from the farmers market, store, or when your produce arrives, crank some tunes or put on a movie, get to work, and don’t forget to have fun!
- wash and dry greens and herbs (a salad spinner speeds this along) and wrap in paper towels or kitchen towels
- peel veggies like parsnips, beets, or carrots, chop them for raw snacks, or shred them to throw into salads, stir fry’s, sauces or smoothies
- freeze bananas (peel, break into chunks, put into a baggie and freeze) for smoothies
- Roast veggies – chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, root veggies
- rice and/or quinoa – cook a big batch for the week (I usually make about 2 cups dry) – use for curries, rice bowls, soup, burritos, salads
- soup – make a big batch; carrot, sweet potato, black bean or tomato soup are all easily portable for lunches
- dips – bean dip, hummus, red pepper dip, eggplant dip
- sauces for pasta – tomato sauce, pesto
I mix and match all my prepped items – pesto on pasta, hummus with veggies, rice for quick stir fry’s. Near the end of the week is normally when I start making some fun combos to use up everything – this past week was marinara sauce with finely chopped and roasted cauliflower and broccoli – the kids didn’t even notice.
Once these cooked foods are in ready to go in my fridge; my kitchen becomes a fast food restaurant. There is no Chinese restaurant in Chicago that can take my order faster than I can assemble dinner.
Do you like to do some food prep for the week ahead? What kind of items do you like to prep?