A recent newslet­ter from our CSA men­tioned that peo­ple some­times drop out due to the fact that they are over­whelmed and don’t know what to do with all the veg­eta­bles. I can relate; if you’d asked me five years ago if I would ever cook turnips, I doubt I would have said yes. Farm-fresh pro­duce, while romantic-sounding, isn’t the eas­i­est thing to embrace when you’re used to let­tuce that comes with the dress­ing in the bag or pre-sliced fruit. (Noth­ing against either of these items, con­ve­nience veg­eta­bles are bet­ter than no vegetables.)

The first thing I rec­om­mend is a salad spin­ner. I have an old ver­sion of this one (above) and it’s still going strong. Our let­tuce usu­ally comes to us pre-washed but our farmer rec­om­mends another wash­ing before eat­ing. We have no prob­lem eat­ing sal­ads if the let­tuce is ready to go, so I always try to wash it once it arrives (this way I don’t for­get about it either!) An easy way to wash lettuce—or any green that may be sandy or dirty—is to fill up the sink with water, swish the greens around, and drain in a colan­der (I just use the salad spin­ner insert) before spin­ning. I might do another round of the swish­ing in clean water depend­ing on the green (spinach is often super sandy).

Next, I must rec­om­mend meal plan­ning. I can­not empha­size enough how this will sim­plify your life. Cer­tainly some­thing dif­fer­ent works for every­one, but I rec­om­mend Mighty Girl’s post and this one from Sim­ple Mom for a lit­tle guid­ance. I have made a slew of dif­fer­ent tem­plates for plan­ning meals but some­times will just write down what we’re eat­ing on the back of an enve­lope. Cur­rently I’m using LobotoME’s “Feed ME” notepad, which has the added ben­e­fit of being cute. (I like cute.)

So, this week we have:

  • mixed greens
  • zuc­chini (2)
  • broc­coli (2)
  • green pep­pers (2)
  • small toma­toes
  • big toma­toes (4)
  • car­rots (aren’t they adorable?)

Once we’ve received our veg­eta­bles, I make a list of what we have so I can check veg­gies off as we use them. (This is to sat­isfy my inner list­maker, but it’s also a nice way to refresh your mem­ory so that you don’t have to dig through your fridge.)

This is a pretty easy week, because these are all fairly famil­iar items. My plan looks like this:

  • Tues­day: pasta with chick­peas and pancetta (from here), using up some ran­dom pasta that’s been in the pantry for a lit­tle bit too long; a salad.
  • Wednes­day: stir fry, using CSA zuc­chini, broc­coli and pep­pers; also using some ran­dom pantry items (are you sens­ing a theme to this week’s meals?) like water chest­nuts and dried shi­take mush­rooms. No recipe since I’ll likely freestyle, or hope that Ryan will cook because he is the supe­rior wok chef.
  • Thurs­day: risotto with CSA toma­toes (from The Splen­did Table book).
  • Fri­day: slow cooker chili with CSA tomatoes.
  • Sat­ur­day: some­thing easy—usually while we’re out run­ning errands we pick up some fresh meat or fish from one of the local mar­kets we like and we’ll throw together a salad or roast what­ever veg­eta­bles we have left over. Some­times we order a pizza.
  • Sun­day: quiche…unless I give into my Catholic side and decide to do a proper Easter dinner.

I didn’t find a place for the car­rots, but that’s because I’ll prob­a­bly just snack on them through­out the week!