Meal planning with a CSA? - Mothering Forums
Meal Planning > Meal planning with a CSA?
sbrinton's Avatar sbrinton 04:10 AM 05-31-2009
My family is going to join a csa (community supported agriculture) this summer. From June through October, we'll get a large box of fresh, organic, local produce. But we won't know what we're getting until the day of, or maybe a few days before, we bring the food home.

Anyone meal plan around a CSA?

Do you just have other ingredients (grains, beans, spices, oils, frozen meat or fish) on hand and then get creative with what is in the box?

I feel strongly this is a good direction for our family to go, but it's hard to leave the relative comfort of my typical meal planning.

kaaris's Avatar kaaris 11:57 PM 06-01-2009
I do! I built a website with a free meal planner, specifically to address this issue! :

And the meal planner can be clicked to from there. I am actually running a recipe contest right now, if you have anything to add to the database.

And you can filter your search results for dietary needs such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc...

Hope this helps!
LoveLife's Avatar LoveLife 01:13 PM 06-08-2009
We also don't find out what we're getting in our box until the day of. I meal plan by the week. So what I do is get our box and meal plan according to what we get in the box on Wednesdays and then do the rest of our shopping Thursdays (we only ordered a 1/2 share, so I do have to supplement our veggies some.)

Justa for instance... last week we got chard, squash, onions, red potatoes, sweet potatoes and something else I don't remember at the moment. So one night I did pork loin, chard and mashed red potatoes and did leftovers the next day. Then we had friends over and did steak, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes. Today I'm doing a whole roasted chicken with yellow squash, the last of the red potates and carrots. Then I'll use the leftover chicken on homemade pizza tomorrow with some onion, tomatoes & spinach. I also make stock from the bones. Wednesday is a vegetarian dish and then I'll start all over with our CSA. (This week was a bit extravagant with both steak and pork loin, normally we do more ground beef and cheaper dishes, but the pork loin was on sale and I couldn't pass it up. LOL.)

Anyway, HTH!

ETA: Also, a lot of what I'm cooking is new to me (since we're originally from the north and they don't do "greens' up there. ha, ha.) So I look recipes up on all the time to get ideas for meals.
sbrinton's Avatar sbrinton 07:25 PM 06-25-2009
That eat real good website is awesome!! What a great idea...
kaaris's Avatar kaaris 07:56 PM 06-25-2009
Thank you so much! It's a labor of love. Let me know if there's any content, info, or recipes that you want to see on there.
granola_mom's Avatar granola_mom 10:58 AM 06-27-2009
I hope it goes well for you!! This is the first year in a while that we havent done CSA, mostly because of the fact that it was so difficult for me to meal plan around and we always ended up wasting food and spending too much money trying to work it in I'm not very creative with food though, I tend to always follow recipes so maybe that was my problem. Now I go to my farmers market and support the more organic farmers by buying what I want in the amounts I want. I must say it is much easier! Not to be a downer but I just want to let you know that it can be difficult and don't beat yourself up if you struggle.

I see this as the major flaw of CSA shares. Luckily my csa farm has a market stand, and while it's a bit more expensive to get their produce from there vs. a csa, I rarely waste anything this way and spend less money on it overall by buying only what I need and know I will eat.

I think if you want to make it work and your CSA is anything like mine was (ie, lots and lots of the same thing at once) is to learn how to preserve in a variety of ways. Or else you'll get really sick of eating zucchini! As the years went on it did get a little better as I learned new ways of putting things by. It's definitely a creative endeavor, and I applaud the people who have the skill and patience to do it!!
kaaris's Avatar kaaris 01:10 PM 06-27-2009
We have a few CSA's around here, and the one I picked includes berries as well as veggies. They've been pretty good so far about providing a big variety, but it IS a lot of leafy greens at the beginning of the season.

I'm doing a mixture of changing up interesting recipes, freezing some meals for later, and freezing some veggies for later.

It's definitely a lot of food!

The meal planner works well with farmers' market purchases as well, and I plan on making it interface well with iPhones at some point, so you can plan your meals based on what you pick up at the market, and head straight to the store with the rest of your list.
cristeen's Avatar cristeen 02:17 AM 06-28-2009
I get my CSA box on Friday and do all my shopping for the week on Saturday - so I have the time to go through the box, see what we already have and decide what else I need to buy. I also only get the veggie box every other week, so then I know what's left in the fridge the next Saturday and I can fill in what I need to.
tschifo's Avatar tschifo 12:19 AM 07-10-2009
Originally Posted by kaaris View Post
I do! I built a website with a free meal planner, specifically to address this issue! :
Hope this helps!
Very cool! Thanks!

I'm not very tech savvy, but it took me a lot of clicks to get to the meal planner. Is that your intention? It was well worth the effort though, because it's now in my favorites!:
kaaris's Avatar kaaris 10:54 PM 07-14-2009
No, that's not really my intention. Thanks for letting me know. I need to make it more obvious on the front page, for sure.
ghostlykisses's Avatar ghostlykisses 01:07 PM 08-02-2009
We did not know what we would get until we picked it up. I used to just keep grains, beans, pasta, baking goods, and seasonings on hand. I also would order a frozen meat package from a local butcher. I then planned my meals around what we had. It was really fun to play Iron Chef and come up with things to make
kellid's Avatar kellid 12:29 PM 08-04-2009
your website is very cool indeed. i think i remember when you were putting it together. congrats. i really hope we all start using it and submitting recipes.....a very cool concept.

ok, now...............beets? my family is not a fan; i could possibly be the only one eating them. i don't love them either, or haven't found a way i like them yet. sorry for highjacking op, but it's along the same topic .

kaaris's Avatar kaaris 02:08 PM 08-08-2009
One of my favorite ways to use beets is to make beet mashed potatoes. Cook your beets (boil them around 10-15 minutes, or until tender), then puree them. Make normal mashed potatoes, but use the pureed beets as part of the liquid you add.

They will be HOT PINK, and have a slight earthy flavor that is to die for.
kellid's Avatar kellid 02:26 PM 08-08-2009
are they liquidy after pureeing them? do you just combine them with equal parts potatoes? it sounds good!
kaaris's Avatar kaaris 08:38 PM 08-08-2009
Yep, the beets get kinda liquidy when you puree them, and you don't need many. For instance, I'm making them this weekend to put up for the winter, because we got behind on consuming our CSA potatoes. Ha ha! So I have a couple of large beets, and then like... 3+ lbs of potatoes. That may even be too many beets for that. You don't need a ton. I want to say that a 1:5 or 1:7 ratio is good. The potato ratio keeps it nice and starchy - you don't want runny mashed potatoes.

So they will be hot pink, and you can salt/pepper them as normal, use butter or Earth Balance, and you're all set. It makes a GORGEOUS base on your plate for things like roasted chicken or a big veggie saute/roast. Drizzle the pan drippings on it and you're good to go.

I'll be making an obscenely large batch this weekend, then freezing portions for hearty winter dinners.

I should probably put this in the EatRealGood meal planner!

Oh, that reminds me - YES! I hope everyone starts putting their recipes into it, so we can make it a community of shared recipes. There's also a little random drawing contest going on right now - each recipe submitted earns an entry into the drawing. The prize is an EatRealGood SIGG bottle!

There are instructions here:
kaaris's Avatar kaaris 08:56 PM 08-08-2009
kellid's Avatar kellid 05:11 PM 08-26-2009