Shopping at the Winter Farmer’s Market

Assumptions. I know better than to make them, yet I still do. Before we started eating local, the winter farmer’s market (in my mind) was a place of leftover collard greens, cabbage and sweet potatoes. Sad. Lonely. Bereft of good eats. I should just give up and head to the grocery store, right? Wrong!

Visiting our winter farmer’s markets always amazes me and disproves my assumptions. At least in NC, there are lots of great foods waiting for us at our local markets.

Not only is the State Farmer’s Market busy, but I am really amazed at the variety of fresh vegetables and fruit (apples) that were still available. Thanks to a very mild winter (at least in NC), farmers are still growing and harvesting white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (mostly locally grown hothouse), salad greens, turnips, kale, spinach, green peppers, apples, fresh beans, broccoli, collard greens, beets and more. And the prices were definitely lower than the grocery stores on just about everything.

I was glad to find Scott Smith of Heaven On Earthorganic farm at the market. He was awesome! He and his wife have a farm outside of Wilmington and they love organic farming. Farmer Scott let me taste test my way though his vegetable stand so I could discover the difference between dino kale and curly kale (dino kale is thicker and spicier), how turnip greens with a little bit of yellow (from frost) are sweeter than the bright green leaves (the frost brings the sugar to the tips of the leaves) and more.

In the end, I did buy vegetables, including the dino kale (the name alone makes it interesting). Scott suggested that the dino kale makes terrific kale chips, something I had heard of, but hadn’t tried before. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were devoured by my family and my pre-teen daughter (who eats vegetables grudgingly) decided they were amazing. Light, crispy and salty, these are the perfect antitode to potato chips. The recipe is below.

  • 1 bunch fresh kale (we used dino kale, but any kind would work)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (we used balsamic)
  • Kosher salt to taste (we used about 1 Tbsp.)
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the kale.
  3. Cut off the lower woody stems and compost.
  4. Cut the kale into pieces about the size of potato chips (2-4″ or so).
  5. In a bowl (or a plastic bag, if you don’t want your hands oily) put the chopped kale and add 1 Tbsp of the olive oil.
  6. Toss the greens with the oil until leaves are covered. (If you use the bag, massage the bag until the leaves are covered).
  7. Add the vinegar and toss again to coat.
  8. If needed, add the remaining Tbsp. olive oil (depending on the thickness of the leaves, you might not need this).
  9. Carefull place leaves on an oven safe baking rack or on a cookie sheet (I used a rack). Don’t overlap leaves.
  10. Sprinkle leaves with salt.
  11. Put rack/baking sheet in the oven and roast leaves for 20-30 minutes (this will depend on how thick your leaves are, so check on them after 20 min.)
  12. Remove from oven and enjoy immediately!

 

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Running Goals and Food as Fuel

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For the past 15 years or so, I have been a casual runner, entering the occasional 5K race and always enjoying it. Last year about this time, I decided I would venture into new running territory and run in a local women’s 10K race. Why? I have no idea, but it seemed like a fun thing to do (and it was!).

Assisted by an unusually mild winter and spring (pretty much the opposite of this year), I started running regularly and using a GPS program called Run Keeper to log my mileage and time. I couldn’t believe I did it! I was beyond excited that even in the 95 degree heat, I could run a complete 10K race–the farthest I had ever run. At the race, I met a woman who, without knowing it, changed my whole year. And maybe my life. She started running later in life and together with her daughter had run many of the Disney races. She encouraged me to go for a half marathon at Disney. She said I could do it. Those words are very powerful.

At home, in a crazy fit of lord knows what (running endorphins?), I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. And signed up my husband, Tom, as well. Then I panicked. How in the world would I run 13.1 miles? Well, friends, there is nothing like investing about $3,000 in a race, hotel, airfare, etc. to help you along with a goal. I downloaded a Jeff Galloway training plan and we were on our way.

Last week, we ran our race. It was awesome. Full of Disney magic, fun, hard work, beautiful weather and personal satisfaction. While the race itself was fabulous, the journey of our training over the past 6 months was really the greatest part. I am learning to appreciate so many things about my body and to treat it well. To give it rest when needed, to strengthen its weaker parts and to feed it what it needs.

And now we have a new goal! We are signed up to run a full marathon in November and the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge in 2015. We have a long way to go to double our distance, but it will be fun trying.

Spring is a time when many of us decide to pull out our dusty running shoes and get outside. But just as important as what we wear, is what we eat. Here are some links to recipes that have worked especially well for us over the past few months. Some are meals and others are snacks/desserts. I hope you find these helpful!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

Clean Energy Bars

Crunch Chai Spiced Granola

Double Chocolate Raw Fudge

Fish with Tomato and Fennel

Mediterranean Shrimp and Feta

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

Raw Honey Almond Butter Truffles

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Eggs

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

Winter Vegetable Stir Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Tutorial Tuesdays #13–Understanding the Carbon Footprint of Food

Tutorial Tuesdays #13–Understanding the Carbon Footprint of Food

The older I get, the more I appreciate the aspects of strength and balance in my life. If I live to be 90, then I officially reached the mid-point in my life this month, which is cause for some introspection. While there are some issues (and my patient husband sees this more than anyone else) where I still have strength of conviction along with hair-trigger emotional responses, I also have a greater ability to step back from life, watch what is happening, and be more balanced and patient in my reactions.

So it is with the choices we make about how we live. I have the strength of conviction that I want a healthier, less toxic life for my family (and your family, too), but I also realize that we have to make balanced choices and sometimes those choices involve tradeoffs. It would be nice if we could have zero impact on the earth and the environment, but I’ve read stories of people who have tried and it nearly drove them mad. Maybe the goal should be to make the choices necessary to have the least impact while maintaining a healthy personal life.

Here is a link to a great resource on understanding the carbon footprint of the food we eat. This tool is helpful (and especially fun  if you have children) in understanding how the choices we make about food have an impact on the health of the world. Just one more resource to bring informed decision-making and, hopefully, greater balance to our lives.

http://eatlowcarbon.org

But sometimes food options that have a low carbon footprint are not necessarily the best foods for you. Homemade cookies, for example, have a fairly low carbon footprint, but that doesn’t mean you should eat them at every meal. And eggs have a low carbon footprint, but factory chicken farms are notoriously inhumane.

So it all becomes a balancing act. Maybe you have a steak one night, but balance the impact of that with lower impact dishes during the week. Or maybe you switch to chicken. Or buy only pasture raised eggs. Or maybe you decide meat isn’t important enough and go vegetarian altogether. Whatever you decide is right for you, it’s good to have the tools needed to make strong and balanced decisions about your life and your body.

This website isn’t a cure-all, but it is fun, engaging and informative. I hope you enjoy it and learn something new, as I have! Now, maybe I’ll go have a cookie :-)

Tutorial Tuesday #11–Stocking a Winter Pantry

English: High Resolution Image of Kidney Beans...

Stock your pantry with dried beans for a winter of high protein soups, stews and salads!

We recently participated in a food drive with our Girl Scout troop, which gave me a great opportunity to clean out my pantry and do some restocking for winter. I haven’t been very good at stocking the pantry–choosing instead to buy what we need just for the week. Part of this is that we’ve been tracking our weekly spending along with our weekly menus. This feature (the budget component) will be going away with the new year. As we stock up on local ingredients and freeze/can for the future, it’s harder to capture those budget amounts in what resembles a weekly budget.

So this all gave me a great opportunity to plan for several months worth of clean eating. We will still purchase our local fruits, vegetables, breads, eggs, cheese and meat from our farmer’s markets or CSA. But what about those staples that can take a collection of veggies from isolated ingredients to a meal? I created a list for us to live on over the next few months and turn some of those holiday leftovers into delicious dishes.

This is a list of everything I want to have access to over the winter. This is a big list and I had to divide it up between two shopping trips.

  • Dried, organic beans (white beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans)
  • Dried, organic peas (red lentils, green lentils, green split peas)
  • Dried, organic vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, hot peppers)
  • Dried, organic fruits (dried tart cherries, cranberries, figs, ginger, raisins)
  • Dried, organic pasta (hearty shapes like bucatini, casarecce, galleti)
  • Raw nuts (almonds, cashews, black walnuts, pepitas, pecans)
  • Dried, organic seeds (chia, flax, sesame)
  • Organic stock (vegetable, chicken and beef)
  • Organic whole grains (steel-cut oats, rolled oats, barley, rice, quinoa)
  • Ground grains (whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, almond flour)
  • Sweeteners (organic cane sugar, organic coconut sugar, maple syrup, molasses, local honey)
  • Spices (cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, smoked paprika)
  • Baking supplies (organic baking powder, baking soda, dark chocolate, raw cacao powder, chocolate chips, yeast)
  • Canned foods (coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato paste, sustainable caught sardines, sustainable tuna)

What would be on your winter pantry list? Do you stock up or buy as you need it?

Tutorial Tuesday #8–Reducing Your Meat Consumption

Starting a garden is a good way to increase your vegetable intake!

Starting a garden is a good way to increase your vegetable intake!

If someone told you there was one secret to losing weight, improving your health and keeping more of your money in the bank, would you be curious?

Believe it or not, there is one thing you can do to both improve your overall health outcomes and reduce your family food budget. That one thing is:

Reduce the amount of meat your family consumes.

Really. When I look at our food budget, it is obvious when we have a meat-heavy week and when we have a lighter week. Meat is expensive to produce and expensive to purchase. And reducing the amount of meat we eat in our diet has contributed to some major improvements in our weight and health statistics.

Am I telling you to become a vegetarian? No, and for the record, I am not a vegetarian, although I do love plant-based meals. And not all vegetarian fare is healthy (see: French Fries and Funnel Cake). Reducing the amount of animal protein you consume is not the same as eliminating it. You could try one night a week and move it to two or maybe three. How do you do this without a family riot? Here are some suggestions!

Reduce! Use smaller amounts of meat combined with lots of vegetables.

For centuries, humans used meat primarily as a seasoning for vegetables and other carbohydrates like grains. The concept of the large roast dinner (roast beef, full ham, steak and potatoes) came primarily after WWII, when war rations were lifted and middle class Americans suddenly had access to factory farmed (less expensive) meat. Before that, home cooks were creative in stretching a little bit of meat a long way. Actually, most of the rest of the world still does. How do you do that? Here are some ideas:

Collards and hoppin' john uses very little meat for a very satisfying meal!

Collards and hoppin’ john uses very little meat for a very satisfying meal!

  •  Stir fry—protein + vegetables + rice
  • Stews—protein + vegetables + potatoes
  • Pizza—protein + vegetables + dough
  • Casseroles—protein + vegetables + noodles + sauce

Go Meatless and Fun!

Meatless Monday has taken off in homes, hospitals, schools and corporate cafeterias across the country. Going meatless can be a fun challenge! Think your family won’t eat a vegetarian entrée? Check out these ideas:

Family Pizza Contest—We make our own whole wheat crust and family members can make their own special (often secret) pizza using ingredients from the farmer’s market. Once the pizzas are cooked we convene for a pizza tasting and vote for the best pizza. There is always a good time and often a lot of smack talk among contestants. Usually we are surprised—kale on pizza? Yes!

Salad-Palooza—Sometimes family members (especially younger members) just want to have some control over their situation. We shred some fresh lettuce and cut up small bowls of all kinds of vegetables and toppings. Then, everyone makes their own salad their way. No judging. Some of our favorite topics include broccoli, chopped cucumber, chopped red peppers, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, olives, and dried fruit. This is a great way to get rid of small amounts of leftover vegetables as well!

Building your own salad puts each diner in control!

Building your own salad puts each diner in control!

Rediscover a favorite—You probably already eat some vegetarian dishes and just didn’t think of them that way. Seeing them in a new light not only makes going meatless seem less intimidating, but it also makes us appreciate some foods we don’t often think about. These familiar dishes are all meatless (although they do involve dairy):

  •  Spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Corn and potato chowder
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Salad
  • Peanut butter (or almond butter) and jelly sandwiches
  • Refried bean burritos and guacamole
  • Homemade or vegetarian egg rolls
Pasta with marinara sauce is always a great bet!

Pasta with marinara sauce is always a great bet!

Find Something New—With all the food porn on Pinterest, have your family search for vegetarian dishes that are beautiful and look delicious. Then make them! Again with the control, children aren’t asked very often to choose what everyone eats. They may really get a kick out of it. You could even make the person who chose the dish a dinner ambassador or some other honor. If you have teenagers, let THEM make dinner (you will be surprised).

Go with Stealth—Just don’t tell them. You don’t have to make a big production over going meatless. Sometimes I wait until everyone is finished eating and announced, “Hey, isn’t that amazing–that was a VEGETARIAN dinner!” At first, we had some surprised looks, now it’s just funny.

Use Unusual Cuts of Meat

Steaks, roasts and chops can be a bit pricey. But what about oxtail, shanks, hangar steaks or cheeks? There are cuts of meat that traditionally are underused and much less expensive to buy. Why? Some require longer cooking times and other cuts have just gone out of popularity with the rise of the steak. With a little love, these can be some of the most delicious meals around. Braised Beef Shank Ragu is one of our all-time favorites and makes the most of a less popular (and often less expensive) cut. Don’t know what to try? Ask your farmer or butcher. Anyone selling meat at your farmer’s market will know and will be able to give you some great recipes (and, there’s always Pinterest, right?).

Give Me Some (Healthier) Sugar!

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Baking season is upon us, my friends, and in the next 4-6 weeks many of us will be whipping up holiday cookies, cupcakes, breads, cakes, pies and whatever else we can think of. Yes, yes, I know some of you bake all year long, but it is just too hot here in the summer for me to invest much time in baking. Come fall, though, look out!

The world of baking has changed so much from when I was a child. The range of flours, oils, butters, and sweeteners available now is astonishing. Some of us are working on gluten-free, vegan or whole food recipes, and I can’t wait to see what everyone is creating! One ingredient that has vexed many of us is sugar. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to reduce our sugar consumption. But we all occasionally want a little somethin’ somethin’. No form of sugar is “health food”, of course, but some forms are better than others. So what are they and how can we use them to our best advantage?

I was working on research about sugars and sweeteners, when I came across a blog for Small Footprint Family. Their blog post on sweeteners contained so much wonderful information, I decided to just feature their post as it is and use my energies elsewhere (like finding more pumpkin recipes on Pinterest).

In our house, we use maple syrup, coconut sugar (LOVE it!), honey, dates and molasses as sweeteners, but I always have a backup stash of unbleached, organic cane sugar. We do not buy bleached sugars, chemical sugar substitutes or corn syrup and now I’m even more glad of that.

What should you do? Hey, your pantry, your rules, and I am not here to judge. But information is your best friend when shopping for any kind of food and this blog has lots to offer, including some types of sweetener that were completely new to me. Check it out!

Click HERE for their blog post!

Get those muffin pans and cookie sheets ready! Baking season is just around the corner!

Interested in reducing your sugar consumption? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make your own treats. I’m preaching to the choir for anyone reading a food blog, but really, when you make your own treats you can control not only how much sugar you use, but also what kinds of sweeteners.
  2. Read the label, read the label, read the label. Our national sugar dependency is not the result of mom (or dad) making cookies. It is all the hidden sugar in processed foods and it is everywhere (have you looked at your toothpaste label?). If you are buying foods labeled as “low fat,” chances are they are also “high sugar”, although the marketing people won’t tell you that. Fat is a flavor conveyor and when fat is removed, companies use excess salt and sugar to make up for the loss of flavor.
  3. Be patient with your taste buds. Reducing sugar (or salt, for that matter), may seem weird at first. Your taste buds may be set on “fructose jolt” and lower sugar foods may not taste as flavorful. It takes about 28 days to make a behavioral change, so give your body and your taste buds a chance to catch up!

Food Safety and the Fall Garden

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Many of us know how to put a plant in the ground and give it some basic TLC to get it growing. But how do we make sure that the gardens we plant yield safe food that will not unintentionally make us sick? And what can we do to make sure children working with us are safe? The North Carolina organization, Advocates for Health in Action have a new web-based resource to address those issues. While it is primarily designed for people starting community gardens, I found plenty of tips for my own home garden!

Here is the link to the booklet.

Are you planting a fall garden? Ours will go in this weekend and we are planting kale, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage and maybe some broccoli. Here in North Carolina, I can plant these greens and have fresh greens all winter long! As long as you don’t pull up the plant roots, you can cut the greens you need and the plant will continue to produce all winter. It was an incredibly successful yield for us!

What are you planting in your fall garden? Happy (and safe) fall gardening!

Stocking Up for the Gap Season

Here in NC, we are rapidly approaching the Gap Season, where summer crops are tapped out or on the way out and fall crops haven’t yet started producing much. How could that be??? Didn’t summer just start, like, yesterday? I love summer–even with the mosquitoes. I’m feeling a little sad about the gap, really. I feel like I have so much unfinished food business. I have tomato and eggplant and zucchini recipes to try, more tomato sauce to freeze, and I’ve only had okra a few times this summer. Still not sure how that happened.

Fortunately, the summer season tapers off gradually and I have a couple of weeks to get my act together before the gap. I’ll be stocking up on what I can this week and next. Mostly peaches, green beans, okra, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini…any other suggestions? While I finish canning and freezing our summer bounty, I am excited about one thing. Football.

Fall means football, which also means stews and chilis and braised short ribs. It also means sweet potatoes and pumpkin and collard greens. If there is one thing I have realized on our journey (and trust me, there is more than one), it is that when you eat local, you genuinely appreciate the sweetness of each growing season and the importance of paying attention to what is available to you at any given time. I will miss fresh, ripe peaches, but not enough to buy their tasteless, black-hearted cousins at the grocery store. I do, however, have 18 half pints of peach butter and 4 quarts of peach halves that I will ration out over the next year, and that will be enough to sustain me until peach season comes again.

 

Reducing Food Waste

p style=”text-align:center;”>How much food do you think your family throws away each year?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Americans threw away more than 34 million tons of food in 2010. That is absolutely appalling. Food waste is the largest component of municipal solid waste. FOOD! Not paper (that was second) or plastic, but food. You know, the stuff we pay to eat and then complain about how expensive it is. Yikes! Is it me or is it horrifying that people around the world are starving and we are throwing food away at a staggering rate? And can I tell you how weird it is to realize I’m starting to sound like my grandmother?

I have been completely and totally guilty of this myself. Leftovers that go uneaten, grocery store produce that goes bad before you can cook it and trash bags full of peelings and odd veggie pieces. Our change of eating habits has helped that a great deal, but we can do better.

Want to know how you can reduce the amount of food you toss? Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Buy less. This is hard for me, especially at the farmer’s market, but I’m getting a lot better. I’ve found that I really didn’t understand how many carrots or tomatoes or heads of lettuce we REALLY needed in a week. Putting our family on a budget along with buying more organic produce makes me very conscious of how much we really eat. And it’s nowhere near what I was thinking. I’m still very tempted during our peak seasons to buy, buy, buy, so I haven’t mastered this yet.
  2. Compost your kitchen scraps. We have two compost systems in our back yard and we probably need another rotating bin. If you have just a bit of space, you can turn your produce scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, corn husks and even some paper into rich garden compost. We have been amazed at how empty our garbage bin is when we take it to the curb each week.
  3. Eat your leftovers. I know, I know. Leftovers can be boring. The old me used to throw most leftovers away because I knew no one would eat them. The new me plans our menu a week ahead and PLANS to eat leftovers at least once a week (you’ve seen this on my menus). Some weeks this is a buffet with a little of this and a little of that. Some weeks we are just trying to finish up a huge pot of chili or soup. Regardless, that is what we eat because that is what is on the menu. Also, to save money, I bring leftovers for lunch. This isn’t a hardship because I rather like my cooking, and it tends to be a lot healthier than eating out.
  4. Freeze extra produce. Did you know you can freeze most produce whole? If you freeze tomatoes and peaches whole, they are easy-peasy to peel once they thaw. Beats blanching any day in my book. Some of our summer produce boxes were so huge that we couldn’t possibly eat everything. Enter–the freezer! We have corn, green beans, field peas, tomatoes, fruit, pasta sauce, pesto, chopped onions and more stashed away for use at a later time.
  5. Donate. Have a bunch of extra tomatoes or squash or cucumbers? Share with your neighbors! Not only will you make them extremely happy, but you’ll reduce the amount of food you’re wasting.

Ok, so with this knowledge I am re-committing our family to reduce our food waste. What about you? Do you have suggestions to help us? Share!

 

Tutorial Tuesday #4–Preparing to Shop at the Farmers Market

36/365 Produce

I am a “list person”.

Not to label myself or anything, but I do love a good list (I also have a label maker, so maybe I will label myself). To-do lists, errand lists, shopping lists and yes, menu lists. There is something very satisfying about crossing off something on a list. Also, I am slightly absent-minded (I prefer to think of this as “intensely focused elsewhere”), so lists help me keep track of things that might otherwise get overlooked. I also keep a list of blog topics. And one that has risen to the top is how we plan our meals around local foods. A friend posted in wondering about this as well, so now seems a good time to dive in.

We don’t have a lot of parameters around our eating, but we do have some loose rules for our journey:

  1. At least 75% of our food should come from local sources.
  2. We should keep spending to $100 or under
  3. No processed foods, unless absolutely necessary (see “Girl Scout Cookies”)

In the second week of our journey, I had a major “uh-oh” moment. I had carefully crafted a list of recipes I wanted to try, based on what I thought might be available at the farmer’s market. As it turns out, almost nothing I wanted was available, so I ended up buying all manner of random food and then trying to create a week of meals out of it. If you’re up for that challenge, go for it, but it was a stressful learning experience for me and I discovered that I need more order than that. I’ve developed a system for locavore menu planning over the past year and a half, and I’ll share it with you. It probably sounds more complicated than it really is. I’m not recommending anyone adopt my system, but it works for me. And if it works for me, I am probably more likely to be successful, so finding a system that works for YOU will do the same. Here goes:

Friday–On Fridays, I get an email from The Produce Box letting me know what is in the various boxes for the next week. I usually go ahead and order my box on Friday and, based on what is going to be in my box, I start my menu for the next week, and make a shopping list of the remaining items I will need from the farmer’s market and from Trader Joes. Since what I get in my Produce Box is similar to what is available at our farmer’s market, there aren’t many surprises here.

On Fridays, I also read emails and Twitter posts from our local farmers markets and farmers so I know what will be available over the weekend. These posts help so much. I highly recommend getting on the e-mail lists of any farmers markets or farmers near you. I can find out what vendors will be available, what they will have, what’s coming up soon and (if I want) I can even order specific products or cuts of meat ahead of time.

A note about our weekly menu: I try to make sure we have a balance of vegetables and proteins throughout the week and I try not to have pasta or starchy dishes more than once or twice a week. This doesn’t always work out–some weeks have been heavy on seafood and others heavy on chicken or pork–but mostly it works out ok. I always try to plan at least one meatless meal each week.

Tuesday–On Tuesdays, I do a final tweak to our menu and check my shopping list. I look at how much my Produce Box order is and try to assess how much in our budget I have left for the farmer’s market and for grocery store items. I get my draft post for the blog ready on Tuesday night.

Wednesday–On Wednesdays, I go to the farmer’s market (sometimes I do this on Saturday, but whatever). Since I know pretty much in advance what will be available to me, I pick up what I need as well as any orders I have placed for meat, fish, etc. While I’m at the market, I make a list (!) of new items that are available or anything interesting that I might consider for next week. Then after work, I go to Trader Joes and get whatever else I need.

Unless something happens and I forget something on the list (see “intensely focused elsewhere”), I try to shop once a week, and keep the extra purchases to a minimum. I do make exceptions for canning over the weekend. If I know I’m going to be making jam or pasta sauce, I’ll head out to the farmer’s market Saturday morning (early) to get what I need so it is very fresh.

So far, this system has worked out relatively well. It does mean that I spend a LOT more time thinking about food, although the longer I do it, the easier it is and the less time I spend planning and shopping. I don’t necessarily mind spending the time, but if you don’t like to cook or if you don’t want to sit around and think through a weekly menu, this may not make you happy. To date, we have been pretty good about not wasting food and making good use of the produce and meat we buy. Some weeks are more successful than others, of course. That’s life.

So that is our system for making sure we have local foods and that we eat what we buy. If you are eating local, how do you plan your meals?

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