For years, I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, but until this summer, I had never personally participated. Community Supported Agriculture is a model of food distribution in which you pay a lump sum of money at the beginning of the growing season in exchange for a weekly share of the garden produce. I have a home garden, and had always felt like it provided enough vegetables, but this year, my husband & I decided to try a splitting a summer CSA share with friends, and I’m so glad we did. Our share comes from Towne’s Harvest Garden, an organic vegetable farm associated with Montana State University.

Using fresh vegetables from the garden takes a little extra time and effort, but it’s well worth it. My husband and I have been enjoying fresh salads for lunch, and incorporating lots of veggies into our dinners. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to use all the vegetables that we received from the CSA, in addition to those we grew in our own garden. I’ve had times in past years where our refrigerator was overflowing with vegetables, we were busy or out of town, and sadly, much of the produce went to waste. However, one strategy that I’ve found very helpful in avoiding that situation is the following: Chop up all your vegetables. It seems almost too simple to warrant a blog post, but it’s been a game changer at our house. Chop, shred, dice, etc. so that in the morning, (or whenever you make your lunch) you essentially have a homemade salad bar. You can pick and choose which vegetables you add so that you don’t get tired of the same salad every day. Depending on my mood, I also add in chopped nuts, seeds, a protein such as roasted chicken, deli meat, or marinated tempeh, and maybe a flavorful cheese like feta or goat’s cheese. With everything chopped and prepped, making a salad-to-go is super quick & easy. Also, rather than layering one ingredient on top of another, I throw all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix it up before I put it all in the to-go container. Each bite is full of flavor and I’m never left with just lettuce, sans goodies, at the bottom!

Here are a few of my salad favorites lately:

  • Arugula, spinach, mixed greens: All chopped into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Beets: Roasted and diced, or shredded raw
  • Kohlrabi: Thinly sliced, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
  • Green beans: Raw, chopped into ½” pieces, or lightly steamed
  • Fresh dill
  • Zucchini: Raw, ½” dice
  • Purple cabbage
  • Sunflower seeds
salad bar
My homemade salad bar with homegrown lettuce, green beans, and peas; CSA-grown zucchini, kohlrabi, and beets, and store-bought cabbage. Mmm mmm!

You may have heard the saying, “Do something today that your future-self will thank you for” and I’ve been reminded of this every time I’ve enjoyed one of my salads. I’ve been thankful that my weekend-self carved out the time to prep veggies so that my busy, week-day self could have a nutritious & satisfying lunch. It’s also been nice to throw pre-chopped veggies into other dishes such as pasta, soups, casseroles, and egg scrambles. When you make it easy to eat veggies, when you don’t have to get out the cutting board & knife, or clean up the mess made from chopping/prepping veggies, it’s surprising how much of a difference it makes—how many more vegetables are eaten, and how many fewer vegetables go to waste. Give it a try this week and see if it makes a difference for you too!

Although it’s getting late in the season, you can find a CSA located near you by going to www.localharvest.org

Happy vegetable eating!

CS

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