Weekend Projects: Seven Tips for Managing Your CSA

Pin it button big

Now that summer is in full swing, our CSAs are finally starting to fill out with more than just kale and arugula.

Not that we're complaining, but it's actually getting hard to keep up with all the produce! Our fridge is filled to capacity and we can see that it will soon become challenging to keep meals interesting when we're having zucchini for the fourth night in a row.

Here are a few tips we've come up with for keeping our CSA manageable and--most importantly--fun!

Seven Tips for Managing Your CSA

1. Deal with everything right away. We pick up our CSA on Saturday afternoons, which means we have no excuse not to aside some time over the weekend to sort, cook, and organize. If you pick yours up during the week, it's a good strategy to plan on an hour or two that evening and make it part of your routine.

2. Make a list of what you have. It's easy to shove your bundle of five radishes into the back of a drawer and forget about it until things get smelly. We like to keep this list posted right on the fridge so we see what's in there and cross things off as we use them.

3. Take a seat and plan out your meals. Meal planning for the week is a good strategy anyway, but it's even more handy when you're trying to use up your CSA and avoid making the same stir-fry night after night.

4. Organize your fridge. Group together the foods that go together: greens in one place, salad fixings in another--whatever works for you. We cut off the tops of beets and put the bulbs in a separate space from the leaves. We also like to trim and discard or compost any parts of the vegetable that we know we won't be using, like the tops of leaks (unless we're making stock!).

5. Wilt down greens right away. Since the leafy greens take up the most space and usually get wilted down anyway, why not wilt them down to begin with? An armful of chard wilts down to about a cup, which can then be stored in a container and added to dishes as needed.

6. Save what you can. Often we'll get very small amounts of something--a pint of blueberries or a handful of ramps--that aren't quite enough for a whole recipe. Since you're likely to get another pint the next week, try to determine if your first batch will keep that long and then combine them.

7. Freeze what you can. If all else fails and food is backing up, turn to your freezer. Berries freeze very well, as do many vegetables like beans and corn. If you have time, we recommend blanching vegetables until barely al dente before freezing them. This helps preserve the color and decrease cooking time on the other end.

Granted, this is a pretty Type A list! But we've found that being organized actually frees us up to be creative in our cooking and enjoy our produce each week.

We're curious what other strategies you've come up with for making sure your CSA doesn't go to waste?

Related: Good Idea: Frozen Veg in Plastic Water Bottles

(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)