Is Eating Seasonal and Local Expensive Part One Getting Started

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Chicken-Lemon_Honey_Ch-SkewAs a seasonal fresh chef I get told all the time that “we can’t eat local and seasonal fresh, it costs too much”. 

I have to say, this is not true and it can be made a reality with a little understanding on how to buy in season. Seasonal food is better for you and the planet , plenty of nutrients and flavour ! 

Eating locally supports the economy you live in or are close to. It also supports local and smaller farms who are farming sustainably 

Eating seasonally also reduces food costs because when we buy what is abundant and in season, the supply is higher and this means the cost of the food is lower. This enables you to buy better quality items while stretching your food dollars. Often they will have specials and you can buy up on, blanch vegetables and freeze for later use. 

When I say local I don’t mean at the supermarket, I mean from your local farmers markets or green grocer. The benefit of buying from these two is that either they have grown the produce themselves or they have sourced from local suppliers and can tell you where it has come from. 

When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive.  It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now. 

Ok, How Do I Start? 

Planning Your Weeks Meals 

The first thing I suggest is to start a meal plan for the coming week. I do these late in the week in the evening so I can take advantage of the farmers markets and green grocers. 

You can download a A4 weekly meal planning chart here…. 

www.jimmyboswell.com/GFS_Meal_Planning.pdf   

When you are starting chat with family and find out what they want over the next week and make a list of the meal suggestions. 

Spend time each week looking for recipes. The internet is great for this. Remember to bookmark sites you like to you can get back to them quickly. 

Decide what to prepare. I find it helpful to think in terms of categories, for example: 

Soup or Salad

Ethnic styled meals like Italian meatballs, curries etc

Pasta

Casserole

Quick & Easy. 

Ethnic – you could divide it into cooking styles 

grilling & BBQ’s

crock-pot

stir-fry

roast

If I pick one from each category, there’s sufficient variety that my family won’t complain, and by putting the Quick & Easy meals (tacos, hamburgers, spaghetti) on harried days, dinner will get done on time. 

Save one day a week for a new dish from a cookbook or a food blog if you like to try new things. If it’s from a blog, make sure you print out the recipe and keep it with your menu plan or in a notebook just for that purpose. 

To help with herbs and seasonings have a look at my blog on herb and spice blends that makes cooking a lot easier. 

http://www.tasteofhome.co.nz/everyday-dried-herb-blends/ 

Start a Meal Calendar.

Now that you’re getting inspired in what to eat, start a calendar of what you’d like to cook over the next few days or few weeks and mix and match meal requests from family and friends. 

Kids-in-KitchenThis is also a great way of getting kids in the kitchen helping meals that they love. They can start with washing vegetables, mixing things together, cracking eggs and loads more. This gives them pride in what has been cook and what they are eating. 

Choose a shopping day and make a shopping list. 

This makes it easier to plan where you need to go and this can save a lot of time and money. 

Check what’s on sale. 

This works in with meal planning and your shopping. When you are making the shopping list check your pantry and add to the list anything that needs to be re-stocked. 

Plan for leftovers.

This is a very good way to eat fresh and save money through buying when things are on special. I regularly cook one or two big healthy casseroles or ragus at the beginning of the week and eat off them all week long for lunch. 

Some people can only eat leftovers for a single night. There are many ways that we can have the leftovers in different ways. I will delve into this in another post. 

Be strategic about freezing.

The freezer is your friend. Actually, it’s the friend of future you. Make a double batch of that sauce you love, some stocks half or all for later. Make a double batch of soup, stew, chicken cacciatore — throw it in the freezer. Let a month go by, and those leftovers will look fresh and tasty! 

Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your fridge is over-full. Also, things get hidden in the back. Don’t let things go bad. Keep your fridge airy and light, with a sensible, realistic amount of food in it. 

Keep a well-stocked pantry.

Meals are easier and quicker to prepare if you keep your pantry well-stocked. Don’t run out of olive oil at inconvenient moments. Have spices and herbs ready to season and flavour dishes you are cooking.