Meal planning

One viable approach to getting the most out of a CSA membership is to be organized and ready to use what’s likely to arrive in your share that week (one reason we try to publish newsletters in advance). CSA programs are well suited to detailed meal planning, because members receive a weekly dose of produce all at once. With the Chert Hollow Farm CSA in particular, members generally have a good idea of the share contents at least a few days in advance and have some choice in what they receive. Many find that a bit of time spent planning at the beginning of the week can more than pay itself off in reducing the time and stress of deciding what to make any given day. Meal planning can also help to prevent wasted produce and associated guilt at the week’s end. Local blogger CoMo Homestead put together a useful discussion of her approach to advance planning, which has a great deal to offer CSA members.

One consideration in meal planning is the storage life of various types of produce. Most farm-fresh vegetables will last through the week, but there are exceptions. Our fresh strawberries should be eaten within a day or two, and okra doesn’t hold very well for more than a few days under refrigeration (but can be easily stashed in the freezer if you know you’re not going to get to it quickly). On the other hand, root crops like garlic and sweet potatoes have a very long shelf life when stored properly.

Another resource that some may find useful for meal planning is Eat Your Books, a website that is basically a cookbook indexing service. For a modest subscription fee, you can search within customized sets of cookbooks/magazines/blogs for particular ingredients or types of recipes.