Meal Planning with Seasonal Vegetables

Meal Planning with Seasonal Vegetables

Typical weekly meal planning follows a predictable routine: think of what you want to eat, find a recipe, write down the ingredients, and go to the grocery store. The specific ingredients are identified and purchased at the end of this sequence.

But what happens though when you start to cook seasonally? If you grow your own food, join a CSA or get a produce bundle from BrightSide, this script needs to be flipped on its head. Ingredients come first. This can be a big adjustment, especially after a lifetime of cooking directly from recipes. 

Here are a few tips of how you might balance traditional meal planning with following the seasonal availability of ingredients or cooking from your BrightSide produce bundle.

Tips to plan meals with seasonal produce

1. Get creative with sauces: If you find a few that you love, you can turn anything into a fantastic meal. Follow a basic template of protein (think eggs, tofu, fish or meat), starch (rice, pasta, potatoes) and whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand. Combine everything into a single bowl, then add any sauce you love and the flavor profile will change completely. BrightSiders recommend trying this cilantro sauce, this ginger miso sauce, or you could make this thai peanut sauce with your Hardcore Peanut Butter!

2. Make a swap: Take any recipe you love and simply swap one vegetable for another. Say you’re making a creamy spinach pasta, but your BrightSide bundle only had kale. Just use the kale! If it seems tougher than spinach would be, try blanching it before incorporating it as the recipe suggests. 

3. Find your favorites: Every spring when the nettles come into season, my family is so excited to make this pizza. We look forward to it all year, and now we always know what to do with this prickly spring green. As you cook and eat seasonally, you’ll develop your list of favorites too!

4. Don’t forget about breakfast: Overwhelmed with vegetables and just not sure what to do? Breakfast doesn’t have to be a sweet meal. Take any vegetable and roast it or saute it with garlic. Top with a fried egg and you have a great seasonal breakfast. You can even add one of your favorite sauces here!

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