By Shanna Demers, neighborhood market manager:
My favorite way to start meal planning is to take inventory of everything I have on hand. In other words, I shop at home.
[In case you missed it, here’s last week’s secret.]
This simple step was one I was missing when I tried to use prefabricated meal plans. Many meal plans have shopping lists prepared for you based on meals selected. I would print these nice little lists and head to the store, completely disregarding what I already had at home or had ordered from Seasonal Roots. This was the opposite of budget friendly! I was also buying weird products for recipes and never using them again. Last weekend I threw away an old jar of tahini I used once to make a sauce no one liked because of a meal plan. No wonder I was throwing so much away!
Now, before I decide what to cook, I determine what I have. Not only was I throwing away produce, but I was throwing away things that were buried in my freezer. You never want to find the last pound of that beautiful, pastured breakfast sausage bundle you ordered from Seasonal Roots covered in freezer burn! I was also freezing vegetables to help reduce waste, but… I didn’t know that they should be blanched prior to freezing. The veggies were almost always freezer-burned by time I remembered I had them. Talk about frustrating.
I’ve made some changes, and now let my order from Seasonal Roots and the freezer inspire my meal planning every Sunday. I have found I am saving money and time! One small change can make a big difference. Give it a shot this week. Before you head out grocery shopping figure out what you actually have. It’s often more than you realize.
Stay tuned for more meal planning tips next week. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide on how to freeze extra produce… the correct way, by blanching first!
- Prepare a stock pot of boiling water.
- Clean and roughly chop vegetables.
- Prepare an ice bath for the blanched vegetables.
- Place vegetables into a wire basket and lower into rapidly boiling water for a few minutes. The time depends on the vegetable. Here’s a good guide for times.
- After blanching, promptly put vegetables into an ice bath. Once cool, drain and place in a freezer-safe container or baggie.