Our weekly meal prep has changed in recent months along with the changes happening around the globe. From shopping in large grocery chains, to now ordering the bulk of our groceries from a local farm community, we are eating fresher and better than ever while supporting local businesses and farmers.
Like so many other families, living through this pandemic has brought many changes to our household. Our biggest change is in how we get our groceries and how our weekly meal prep has evolved as a result.
In the past, meal planning meant I first developed a weekly list of dishes or items that I wanted to prepare for our household, shopped according to that list, and then spent Sundays doing meal prep for the upcoming week.
Now our process is almost the complete opposite. Now I purchase the groceries first, which are a combination of known items and some that are a bit of surprise, and the meal prep is developed and focused around what I can get.
Supporting Local Farmers and Other Benefits
Back in March, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a group of local, small farmers who work together to sell their products directly to customers through an online service with minimal handling and contact.
Every Monday, I log in to the site (you can find it here), order my groceries through an online catalog, and select a time to pick it up that following Saturday. On Saturday, the whole family jumps in the car and we drive just 15 minutes to a local farm where our order is loaded through a contactless service into our trunk.
When we started using this system, there were 11 farms or small businesses in the group, but since then, many more have been added. This means customers can order everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to meat, baked goods, preserves, dairy products, and all sorts of specialty items.
Eating Fresher and Healthier
While you can order individual fruit and vegetable items, I always order a prepacked produce box each week. For one flat price, the box includes 11 different vegetables and you don’t know exactly what those are until you pick up your order. I love it. What’s in the box changes weekly, depending on what’s available or what’s in season, so each week it’s a bit of a mystery.
At first, the control freak in me was nervous about not knowing precisely what I’d be getting, but I’ve grown to love it. And with one vegetarian in our house, we go through produce pretty quickly and buying it this way is a much better deal than buying individual items at the grocery store.
In addition to the produce box, I typically also order a variety of fruits (although there’s also a fruit box if I choose to go that route), breads and baked goods, and a few meat selections.
Feeling Inspired by Food Again
I’m surprised at just how inspiring opening a box of fresh food has been. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, I’m surprised to discover how uninspired I was by our old way of doing things. Having a beautiful rainbow of produce, and a variety of local farm-raised meat at your fingertips, does wonders for your soul. I now know exactly who makes or grows what we’re eating, and how it makes it to our table.
For the fun of it and for added inspiration, I also add a specialty item of some sort to my order each week. Sometimes it’s an item I haven’t tried before, haven’t worked with much in the past, or don’t eat very often. Other times, it’s a new specialty product that has been added to the catalog. Either way, I love it and maybe even more importantly, the kids love it – they get excited about our drive to the farm, seeing where their food comes from, and knowing they get to try something new every week.
For a look at what I’ve done with one of our specialty order items in the past, check out my Smoked Trout Dip recipe.
Farm Fresh Meal Prep
So, what does a family of four, on three different diets, do with a small mountain of fresh produce each week? Here’s what some of our meal prep items have been:
- Bruschetta with tomato and basil
- Pear & prosciutto flatbread
- Fruit salad tossed in a cinnamon yogurt dressing
- Leek & spinach egg bites
- Cauliflower Lime Tacos
- Beet & Goat cheese tart
- Vegetable Stock (using vegetable peelings and ends – nothing goes to waste!)
- Sweet Potato Tart
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Whatever else, we’re eating well and enjoying it! I’m glad to see something positive come out of this pandemic. What’s changed in your house? Has something positive come out of all of this chaos for you?