Getting the Most Value from Your CSA Box

Like everybody who gets home deliveries of fruits and vegetables, we’ve sometimes had a tough time figuring out how to make sure we use up everything from our box and waste as little as possible. Here’s a few tips that have helped us figure out how to get the most out of our box.

1) Prioritize

Take a look at your box and see what you need to use right away and what can wait a couple days. Root vegetables, winter squash and apples always last a good while. We’ve found that pears need to be eaten pretty quickly. Stuff like salad greens aren’t going to stay good for too long. Front load your week with the stuff that needs to be used right away to make sure you don’t have to toss it.

2) Invest in some plant-based cookbooks

Even if you don’t eat all vegan all the time, these cookbooks often have tons of new ideas for using vegetables that you may not have thought of. Discovering sweet potato enchiladas has literally changed our lives. They’re often indexed by ingredient or cooking method, so we’re always finding new and creative ways to use even old and familiar ingredients.

3) Prep early

At the beginning of the week, chop up veggies for salads or snacks, roast some sweet potatoes, etc. Have everything ready so there’s never an excuse for not eating your CSA goodies, even on the busiest day. Doing this has helped us almost always resist the temptation to go out for lunch at work.

4) Have a wilted veggie plan

For us, this is vegetable stock. Wilted kale, squishy carrots, as long as it isn’t rotten or moldy, it goes in the pot and adds to tons of delicious recipes throughout the week. You can even freeze it for later. You can use it in place of meat stocks to adapt non-vegetarian recipes into vegetarian versions, too!

5) Adjust your box size to fit your lifestyle

We keep an eye on our grocery bill and if we’re subsidizing our csa with a particular type of produce, we adjust our box accordingly. Currently we get two boxes, usually one with mixed fruits and vegetables, and one all vegetable. This fits our mostly plant based eating style and allows us a good bit of freedom in what we eat. I always know it’s been a good week when csa day comes around and there’s nothing in the crisper.

In Conclusion: Be Organized, Be Realistic, and Branch Out

Getting boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables every week has been really great for us. We eat a ton of healthy food, and we’ve discovered a lot of stuff that we love, even though we once thought we hated it (I’m looking in your direction, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts). We do a fair bit of planning and prepping on the weekends, but just having some standard fallback plans has helped immensely. Get yourself a go-to salad recipe that can be adapted easily. Find a root vegetable soup that’s quick and easy and tasty. The easier you make it to eat everything in your delivery, the greater the chances nothing will go to waste.

Hungry Harvest Review

We’ve writtena lotaboutHungryHarvest, but it occurred to us that we’ve never written a straight up Hungry Harvest review. Since we started participating in the Hungry Harvest Ambassadors program, we’ve been seeing so much more of what the service has to offer, and we wanted to share some of that with you.

Selections from this week's Hungry Harvest

First Things First: The Food

A food delivery service like Hungry Harvest lives and dies on the quality of the food. You might feel like you’re walking a tightrope with a service that proudly advertises that they make use of food that would otherwise go to waste. On this front we can confidently say that we’ve seen absolutely no reason for skepticism about the quality of the food that Hungry Harvest delivers. On their website, they tell you exactly how and why they got each piece of produce they sent you, whether it’s because farmers simply grew too much, or whether some items were a little too small or misshapen for the store. We’ve never had a case where we were sent food that was inedible.

We have been sent food that went bad a little bit quicker than we expected, but here’s the thing: this happens with food we get at the grocery store too. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve brought home a bag of oranges only to find, a day later, that one of them is entirely covered in mold. Does that happen with Hungry Harvest from time to time? Sure. But that’s just the nature of fresh produce. The food we get delivered is at least as high quality as anything we would otherwise get from the grocery store.

Next: The Delivery

Delivery is always prompt on Saturday morning, right around 8:00. We get a text message to let us know that the delivery is almost there, and the delivery person is always friendly and helpful and brings the boxes right up to the door. We’ve never been anything less than thrilled with the delivery portion of the service.

Customer Service

We’ve had a couple of times when mistakes were made. Maybe we ordered two portobello caps and only got one, things like that. Every time, when we’ve contacted Hungry Harvest to address it, they’ve been responsive and helpful. They’ve given us refunds where appropriate, and taken steps to address the issues to ensure they’re less likely to happen next time.

One feature they’ve added recently is customization of our box, and we couldn’t be happier with it. For a small fee, we can change amounts of produce that we get. We try to leave things just about as they started, but sometimes we don’t have enough planned to use 8 mangos, so letting us customize the box gives us more power to ensure we’re fighting food waste at home just as Hungry Harvest is fighting food waste in its whole operation.

The Price

We’ve found that the price of what we get in our Hungry Harvest deliveries is about comparable to what we’d pay for the same stuff at the grocery store, and it saves us a trip. Beyond that, Hungry Harvest donates produce to people in need, so our grocery dollars are also going to an organization that’s helping directly fight hunger.

Vivian and Freddy playing with our Hungry Harvest delivery

Hungry Harvest Review: Conclusion

Hungry Harvest is absolutely worth your time and money. It saves us a trip to the store to get our produce, the kids love playing with the new fruits and vegetables, and it helps to fight food waste and hunger. Delivery is prompt, the food is fresh and delicious, the price is right, and the customer service can’t be beat.

If Hungry Harvest operates in your area and you’re interested in signing up, you can go to this website. If you use the code HERO5, you’ll get $5 off of your first delivery. #hungryharvesthero

Friday Links

Here’s what we’re reading this weekend!

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Garlic and Roasted Tomatoes from The First Mess looks amazing and I want it in my face right now.

Tempeh Tacos from My New Roots. I know we go on about tacos all the time, but for real, start living your best taco life.

Ever been confused by the difference between “sell by” and “use by”? Join the crowd (this particular crowd is called “everyone”). A new plan aims to curb food waste by harmonizing those labels.

So as we all know, fall has officially fallen, and we couldn’t be happier! The temperatures, the food, the holidays, it’s all great. I was all set to write about some of my favorite fall beers, but then I realized it’s shorter to just say “anything with pumpkin in it.” There’s approximately a billion pumpkin ales every year, and I love all of them. So raise a glass for us this weekend if you’re so inclined, and celebrate the equinox!

Friday Links

Here’s what we’re reading going into the weekend. Got any suggestions? Put them in the comments, we’d love to see them!

Not surprisingly, it turns out that making a whole lot of food and hoping your hotel guests just stop by and eat it produces a ton of food waste! Hyatt is working toward strategies to cut down on food waste at its hotels, which is a great first step. As it turns out, IKEA is doing something similar.

The New York Times has a good article on how to approach a lot of different aspects of parenting. TL;DR – for the most part, relax and do what works, and make sure you’re firm, consistent, and caring.

Firmly in the “this is for parents, not for children” camp, if you’ve got a few extra hours this weekend, you could do worse than catching up on USA’s The Sinner. It’s a really gripping 8 part miniseries (with 2 parts left to go!) featuring really great performances by Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman.

Finally, we’re looking forward to trying this veggie hash from Full Belly Whole Heart this weekend! It’s always great to find new blogs with great recipes!