“What I wish someone had told me before I joined a CSA.”

TIP #1:

Take the time to learn about storage early on. In our Box to Banquet document, we give you tips for every vegetable you’ll see in your shares. Try to learn it early.

There is especially two mistakes that are common to CSA Rookies.

First, “Take the tops off your carrots as soon as you can, or they’ll get soft.”

This is such a discouraging thing. You see those beautiful carrots come out of your box and you’re so excited – the highlight of your box! But then, you forget to take the tops off and the very next day you find those same carrots have become rubbery and soft. The greens have pulled all the moisture out of the roots.

So, take those tops off and use them to make pesto, or put them in your Veggie Broth Cache in the freezer. Place your carrot roots in a plastic bag, close it up and keep it in your crisper drawer in your fridge.

Second, “Watch for those green leafy things. You need to use these first because they don’t have a long storage life.”

You will likely get a fair amount of ‘green leafy things’ in your CSA box, or from the local farmers’ market. Kale, Swiss Chard, Beet greens, Spinach, Lettuce, Arugula, Mesclun mix. The refrigerator sucks the moisture out of these vegetables.

One of the best ways to keep these green leafy things is to get some “green bags.” These are made specifically to help those highly perishable foods last as long as possible, and I know the Debbie Meyer brand are re-usable up to 10 times.

So take the time to learn about the life expectancy of each veggie, plan to use the highly perishable items first, and how to store each one so you’re “not wasting food”.

TIP#2:

If you haven’t used your veggies by day 4, freeze it. Learn how to freeze each vegetable by reading that Box to Banquet document we shared with you.

Whether you fall prey to the inevitable veggie overload that happens from time to time in a CSA, or if you find a vegetable you’re unfamiliar with. The common thing is to stuff them into your fridge to deal with them later…until you end up with a stockpile.

We are very intentional in helping you with this issue. Each week we plan a Box-Opening video where we will go through each item in the box, and how you can freeze it by one of two methods. Either the “simple bag & freeze” or the “blanch and bag” method.

This strategy can help buy you some time until you can figure out what best way you want to use your food.

We also will have a few videos available in our private Facebook group to help members with things like: How to Blanch Spinach, and we’ll take you through the step by step process.

TIP #3

Keep your meal prep simple! It doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming to be nutritional and great tasting.

We have a few CSA members who love to cook, producing 5-star gourmet meals every night. But if we’re realistic, that just isn’t all of us all of the time!

Veggies can be prepped quickly and cooked simply with just a few methods: Bake, steam, sauce, roast or grill.

Just take 10 extra seconds to meal prep, add a few spices, and you’re set with a meal worthy of any family dinner.

The goal is to help you learn how to eat well, using locally-grown, seasonal food, and to do it simply, so you meals LOOK and TASTE like you slaved over them all afternoon, but they’re really just quick and easy!

So, when 3-oclock rolls around and you open your fridge and you’re overwhelmed with “veggie overload” and you really just don’t know where to begin, don’t let it paralyze you. We can teach you some tricks to help you master this.

TIP #4:

Learn the 3 basic uses of each vegetable. I love this tip, I use it and I know that it works!

Even though some Newbie CSA members may not know instinctively what to do with garlic scapes, it only takes a couple season until they have a few go-to recipes or formulas that they can use.

Every veggie has at least 3 basic uses. Can you use this veggie in salad? A skillet meal? A sauce? Grilled?

Researching and finding 3 good basic recipes for you each food variety is a way to keep overwhelm from happening to you. So I encourage you to make it a goal to try and find 3 basic uses for each veggie.

If you take the time to set a concrete goal like this and follow through, it really helps you see your progress.

TIP #5:

Find out what’s going to be in your box before you pick it up. If you can find out ahead of time what’s in your box before you get it, either by checking the weekly e-mails, or watching the box-opening videos, or even checking the “2018 harvest projection calendar.”

We feel like people waste less food if they know what they’re going to be getting. Not only do we plan to let you know what’s going into the boxes, but we give recipes that go along with some of the veggies in your box too.

If at all possible to do this before you get your box, then you can come up with a game plan. We’ve heard CSA customers say that just reading the email the night before, somehow gives them more success when they pick up their boxes the next day.

I hope this was helpful to you. And for a freebie today, I’m offering an eBook I wrote on one of our vegetables. I am making an entire eBook library, one for each of the veggies we grow that will be made available to anyone who becomes a member of our CSA. I am attaching the one about Kale

 

eBook3kale

Advice to CSA Newbies

WHAT I WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD ME WHEN I WAS A CSA NEWBIE

Advice from past CSA members.

HELPING CSA-ROOKIES SUCCEED

 

Expect to make some mistakes! Trial and error is part of how we learn.

Take the tops off your carrots ASAP! Eat the most perishable items first, learn what they are.

Keep your menu simple, meal prep doesn’t have to be fancy to take a long time. Vegetables can be prepped quickly, and they are just as nutritious and tasty when prepared the simple ways with just a few spices.

Storage matters so much. I didn’t store things right, so I lost them.

Try to learn the basic uses of each vegetable.

Eat the most perishable veggies first. This includes things like lettuces, greens and herbs.

Ask yourself “What can we make for dinner?” instead of “What do you want for dinner?”

Learn how to freeze things to use later on in the winter. If you haven’t used it by day 4, I would freeze it.

Act quick when you get home from the pick-up. Store your vegetables properly. Deal with the most perishable items first. Take the tops off your carrots.

Get those green bags, they really extend the life of the veggies once their prepped and cleaned and will lead to less waste in the end.

If you don’t know what to do with something new, you can roast almost anything.

Plan ahead. I changed my meal planning and grocery shopping day till after the newsletter announced what was going into the box that week, so I could plan to use as much as possible of it in my planned meals.

Invest in containers used specifically for storing and extending the life of the vegetables. There are many options on Amazon, but I found ones made by Progressive are excellent.

Process the contents of the box as soon as you get home. Doing this while you’re still excited about the box will help you get over the hurdle of much of the prep work later in the week. You’ll be able to produce your meals that much quicker too.

Read the newsletter so you know what’s coming in your box. You can then start choosing recipes and determine what other things you’ll need. I suggest making your trip to the store the day before or the day after your box pick-up.

Proper storage is the key to longevity and avoiding waste. If not used immediately, roast, bake, blanch or steam whatever possible and freeze for use later in soups or casseroles.

Google is your friends. If you don’t know what to do with a veggie, think of how you would use a similar veggie and do that. Don’t be afraid to try new things or be creative.

Don’t be afraid to use a veggie for breakfast. It’s a great way to use up what you have and start your day off with a mega dose of nutrients.

Print out the guide to using and storing veggies prior to the season and keep it in an easy to reach place in your kitchen so you can access it every week. If necessary, view it each week prior to veggie pick-up so you know exactly what to do with those vegetables when you get home.

Try to clean and prep your veggies the night you get them. It will be a lot easier to incorporate them into meals on busy nights once this is done.

Grill everything! Use marinades, spices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar or whatever else you like to jazz it up.

Look up recipes for veggies you are not sure of to see how you can work them into your meals for the week.

Be willing to do recipe research and experiment with ingredient substitutions. Write down what you did and whether it was successful or not along with suggestions on the recipe page for future use.

The first year was tough. There was just so much food. And we didn’t know what we didn’t know. But you can do it! For it to work, you need to make a commitment. You have to say, “We want to do this.”

You will struggle with using it all. And you’ll feel guilty about wasting food. Realize that you will waste a bit every week, but that you can get to the point where you really feel like you don’t waste much.

It takes time to master the CSA Way. First season you are observing and learning the rhythm of the veggies. Second year you are more prepared.

 

ARE YOU READY TO JOIN OUR CSA?

Here are the next steps:

  1. Go to this link to visit our sign-up page. https://dahlinfarm.com/become-a-member/

 

  1. Decide what size share will best fit your family.

 

 

  1. Print, sign and mail your form with your payment.