There are a few basic things that you can do each week (or whenever you get a box) that will help you efficiently use your local food box with less food waste!
So, here are 5 simple steps to increase your enjoyment of your fresh, locally grown food:
Step 1: Customize your box!
Whether you are a Subscription Member, or just jumping on our Online Farm Stand every once in a while to grab a box, the first step is to customize it!
Everyone who has an account with us is able to set preferences for every item we offer, so if you are allergic to anything or KNOW there is no way your kids will eat it, you can set your preferences to never receive it in a box.
As a Member you will receive a curated box when you receive your Friday email, and you can either go with what you got, or further customize your box to your tastes or needs for the week!
Step 2: Pick up your box (or get it delivered to your home) and protect the temperature of your box ASAP!
You will get your box of local food packed for you in a secure cardboard box with an insulated liner to keep your items cool.
But if you know you won't be home for a couple hours, or you have more errands to run after your pick up, you should definitely have a cooler with ice packs waiting for your refrigerated items to be loaded into! Tip: If you get home delivery and leave a cooler with ice packs outside, our driver will carefully unload your box into your cooler for you!
Step 3: Store the "danger zone" items first!
If you haven't learned it yet, protecting the shelf life of your veggies gives you more time to use them before you get your next box!
So, it's important to learn which veggies need attention right away and which ones will be just fine with minimal input.
Which ones require "dealing with" when you get home?
It's pretty simple: anything that's leafy and green and any root with fresh green tops still attached to it (think carrots, radishes, and turnips).
Roots with Tops: Chop off the tops and put them in a plastic bag if you plan to use them. Store the roots in a plastic bag in the fridge in your crisper drawer to keep them crunchy and juicy.
Greens: Throw anything that is leafy and green in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer and you're done! This keeps your green things from going limp in the forced air of your refrigerator. This goes for herbs, lettuce, chard, kale, collards, beet greens, bok choy, arugula, salad, spinach, micro greens, etc.
Many of these items already come packed for success by us, but some will need a little extra love from you to keep them happy!
Step 4: When you plan your meals (or don't plan them), use this principle: "Eat items with a short shelf life first."
In other words, eat those "danger zone" veggies first! And make sure that you eat older items first before you dig into the newest ones!
This requires a bit of a shift in how you eat, because you don't always get to eat what you WANT to eat but rather, you eat what you HAVE to eat first.
But that's ok, you'll get used to it!
This is an important shift to make because if you don't, you'll find that you lose produce because you didn't take the time to honor its shelf life.
We all hate wasting food, so adopting this principle will help you keep that in check!
Step 5: Use "exit strategies" to get rid of food that is nearing the end of its shelf life.
If you get to the end of the week and you've still got that bunch of kale (or 2) in the back of your fridge, walk that veggie through various exit strategies to find a home for it:
Can you blanch and freeze it? Can you just throw it in a zip lock bag and freeze it?
Can you make vegetable stock with it?
Can you roast it with a bunch of other stuff? Can you throw it in a refrigerator soup and freeze it for winter?
Can you turn it into pesto and freeze it?
Exit strategies are super important (and are often just a simple trick) to help you feel confident with eating local and getting the value out of all of your food.
Check out our Local Food Training Library for kitchen basics, storage guides, cheat sheets, and more!