We are lucky to live in an area with an overabundance of fresh local food. During the summer, we have a CSA share with a farm located just half a mile down the road. In the winter, there's a farmer's market every Saturday, and we split a large winter farm share with another couple, which gives us about 45 pounds of roots, squash, etc to eat through the winter months.
What we don't have is an overabundance of time. Even though our pantry and refrigerator is full of local food, and even though we love to cook, I'm embarrassed to admit that these days we eat out far more often than I'd like. Aside from not knowing the sources of the food we're eating, eating out takes a toll on our health, not to mention our wallets.
We've been trying some new tricks to make it easier for us to cook meals at home on a regular basis. Menu planning has been the most effective, and when we do it properly, we can cook at home every night, and enjoy it. With our current system, we each come up with three meals we'd like to make for the coming week, then we share our choices and make a schedule and a shopping list. We plan our meals around what's already in the house to minimize grocery shopping, and most of the year that means we only go to the store for meat, dairy and staples like dry beans and rice. And in the winter, we'll also pick up fruit and maybe a few green veggies.
Of course, there are pitfalls, especially lack of motivation. That's why we're so excited to participate in the Dark Days of Winter Eat Local Challenge. Our friends over at D.I. Wine and Dine turned us on to the challenge (if you read this blog, you know we love a good challenge). The basics of the challenge are to cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, and to blog about it.
With 45 pounds of winter share hanging out in our pantry, we'd better be able to handle that.