Where to start
Choose a box that’s right for you. In our household it’s just the two of us, so to limit food waste, we tend to opt for a small box. Most brands will give you the option of ordering as a one-off, or on a subscription basis arriving on a frequency of your choice. When it arrives, take stock of what goodies you’ve received and give everything a good wash before putting things away. We put most items in the bottom drawer of the fridge, with fruit going straight into the fruit bowl to remind us to eat it. If you have a cool, dry, dark place such as a pantry, you’ll find potatoes, onions, garlic and squash will be very happy there.
To ensure we make the most of everything that arrives, the first thing we do is start meal planning. Will that aubergine become the hero ingredient of a main meal or would it be better in a supportive side dish? A quick Google will pull up a long list of recipes you could try, but we also like referring to the Riverford cookbooks which look at what’s in season throughout the year. Another great resource is the ‘save’ feature on Instagram. Put your scrolling to good use and keep any tasty looking meals in one place, referring back to the post when you’ve got the veggies to make it.
Try to leave a little bit of leeway (we like to plan for five out of seven days of the week) because even the best laid plans can go awry – and let’s face it, sometimes you’ll just fancy a takeaway after all. Once your menu is set, you’ll be able to see if you need any additional ingredients, such as store cupboard staples and will be able to stock up accordingly.
First things first
Bear in mind that your leafy greens will need to be eaten first – anything that can wilt is best enjoyed whilst it’s nice and crisp. Fear not, this doesn’t mean you’ll be living off salads for the first part of the week. We like to chuck in a handful of spinach to our mixed berry smoothies (sweeten it up with a pitted date and a spoonful of peanut butter), incorporate into savoury breakfasts, add to soups and stews, stir-fry recipes and pasta dishes. Towards the end of the week, you might find yourself with more root veg – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, etc – than you can shake as stick at. Soups and stews are our favourite way of using up these last bits and pieces.
If you think there’s anything you might not be able to use before it’s past its best, we’d recommend prepping it and popping in the freezer. Think about your veg differently – a head of broccoli could be whizzed up into ‘rice’ and then frozen until you need it. Kale and Cavalo Nero just needs a quick blanch and a good dry and then that too can be used from frozen. Pickling is another great way of preserving veggies, fronds are excellent whizzed up into pestos or herby oils, which will add the final flavour-packed punch to dishes, while peels and scraps work well in slaws. Anything else, compost!
A veg box is a great way of discovering new produce that you’d maybe never pick up, or even see, in your local shop. We’d recommend approaching unusual veg with a simple recipe. Once you’ve nailed that, you’ll be more confident to experiment. I distinctly remember the first time an artichoke arrived. After a quick YouTube tutorial on how to prepare it, our newbie veg became a rather romantic starter for two, lightly steamed and served with a melted butter dipping sauce.
And that’s it. Before you know it, your next box of fresh veggies will be arriving, ready for you to come up with a brand spanking new menu, designed to tickle the taste buds. Enjoy!