A few years ago and more by accident than anything else I started getting a veggie box every week. The reason I’m starting my post today with that? A veggie box has pushed me to cook with fresh vegetable and to explore new recipes. With that came a gradual move to a whole foods diet. But it all started with the veggie box.
Ways to a veggie box
We were members of a food cooperative which worked with farmers in a 50 km radius. Every week the staff would put together a box with seasonal veggies which always came to the same price. On a Thursday afternoon I would take my empty backpack, go to the pick-up location and get my veggies for the week. I loved that system and missed it dearly when we moved.
In our new place I tried my usual attempt at shopping for veggies: get inspired by what’s on special (not on offer, because that tends to be everything but not necessarily seasonal). This approach didn’t get me too far I admit since I have a hard time imagining what I can cook with a vegetable that I can’t eat raw. I soon discovered that the supermarket offered veggie boxes for delivery and I was hooked again. I have since changed to a local farmer who brings me my box of goodies every week.
How to use a veggie box
What I love about these boxes is that I get vegetable I might not get otherwise and it forces me to think about what I could cook with them. There is some waste, I admit, but generally we get through the box rather well and over the years I have found new recipes and ideas for turning my boxes into food.
One of my resources for ideas has become Jamie Oliver. I love his (their) approach to food by focusing on everyday ingredients which are also easy to be substituted. Generally I don’t need to get anything special to turn a JO recipe into a meal for us. But it takes practice. I’ve become relatively confident in switching ingredients around and substituting. But, we’ve also had some spectacular failures. Overall however we manage to cook pretty tasty food (if I may say so).
One of our stables is pasta, from lasagne to straight up pasta shapes with red sauce. The kids love it and I can hide almost any vegetable in the sauce. Again, JO has an awesome recipe for a ragu which we cooked up regularly and store in the freezer. We’ve also turned to curries a lot lately because the kids love rice and I love the combination of coconut cream and vegetables. I made some curry pastes for it which I froze and take out as needed. It’s little tricks that make our daily cooking easier; cooking in batches and freezing it is a big one.
Whole foods beyond the veggie box
We rarely cook meat or fish. About once a week we get a piece of something from our local butcher and/or fish monger and that’s about it. We have an awesome local butcher who I can trust in terms of quality and origin of the meat. I’m not the biggest fan of meat, neither preparing nor eating, so it’s usually my husband who cooks it up. With the meat as well we try to stick to the simple stuff: mince, sometimes sausages or a piece of slow-cooked meat – that’s what tends to come home with us.
Tinned vegetables such as tomatoes and beans are another stable food source for us. I also have dry beans and lentils in the pantry but sometimes it’s easier to turn to the tinned products. I pay attention to the tins I buy, no additives or preservatives. It’s not difficult and tins last without having to worry about an expiry date. I try though to use dried beans and lentils as much as possible; the slow cooker has become my friend here.
I admit it takes some effort and thinking to be cooking with a pre-packed veggie box each week. We have had veggies we didn’t know what to do with and which ended up in the bin but I enjoy figuring out what to do with what we have. And it allows me to stay local, seasonal, cheaper, and more relaxed than going to the supermarket and trying to figure out what to cook.