Strategic Meal Plans: Make Fall Foods Work For You

Fresh Chard Ready for Harvest

Meat is generally the easiest fresh foods to buy and store, and although it is best when fresh, it freezes nicely for day-to-day use.  With fish and shellfish fresh is always best, although frozen is much better than nothing. The main thing is you need to get those essential fatty acids into your diet, so frozen will do.  Some vegetables are fine frozen, but they are limited in number. Unfortunately, the dark leafy greens that are really desirable don't freeze as well.  But, blanched variations will do in a pinch. 

If quality of life is your real goal, fresh proteins and fresh vegetables should be a regular on your menu plan, no matter how busy your life gets.

Making change happen can require some strategy to get the right food on your table each day.  First, it's necessary to do the research to find the farm-to-table routes in your local area.  Once that's in place, the menu has to be planned based on when the shopping is going to happen.  If twice-a-week shopping is possible, this is less of a concern.  However, you may find that it is difficult to fit multiple shopping trips into your schedules, even though you have a farmer's market or fishmonger available. But, it is time well spent. 

Leafy vegetables are susceptible to wilting and can quickly rot, in comparison to heartier, fleshier vegetables. So green leafy salads work great for the first half of the week after shopping, and look to other vegetable choices to make fine meals later in the week.  Fresh cauliflower has recently gotten very popular because of its ability to fill in for some of the carbohydrate cravings, and it can handle a variety of cooking methods.  It pickles wonderfully, it roasts, steams, and can stand up as a puree.  Cabbage, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, and many other types of vegetable matter hold up much better than lettuces and chards, and will keep for many more days, sometimes weeks, in the fridge. 

With Fall Harvests hitting the local markets, plan a shopping trip this week to get as many of those fresh vegetables on your table as you can.


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