Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Menu Planning: Questions, Questions, Questions

As I said in an earlier post, I am not an expert meal-planner…yet. In the past I’ve planned weekly meals with some success, but have abandoned the effort time and again. However, the pain of throwing out delicious veggies that have gone bad because they got buried in the refrigerator causes me to take up the effort again. Fellow CSA members, do you feel my pain?

This time, to start planning meals, I'll brainstorm by asking a series of questions about each veggie:

How long will it last?
Shorter-lived veggies get scheduled earlier in the week.

How much room does it take up in the fridge?
Whenever possible, I like to use up the bulkier vegetables first. This makes it easier to see what else is in the fridge.

Can I combine it with other veggies –OR— is it better simply steamed or baked alone?
Combining veggies can create a beautiful dish (and use up a lot of veggies quickly), but sometimes enjoying a fresh young squash or brussels sprout’s unique flavor can be even better. Not to mention easier and quicker. Also, if a veggie is unfamiliar, cooking it by itself reveals its true flavor. Even if I don’t like the flavor, I’ll know better what to do with it next time.

And  some questions about myself:

When will I have time to cook this week? Which are the best days for complex cooking?
Schedule complex cooking when schedule permits, or live to regret it.

What leftover veggies and main dishes do we still need to eat too?
It’s true. Even with effort, not all veggies can be consumed during certain weeks, for example when we get three types of onions for three weeks in a row. Or if we get lazy and go out for tacos a lot.

Anyone have any questions?

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