How to cook with a veg box
Your veg box has arrived and it’s packed with a bounty of farm-fresh fruit and vegetables. Now what? If you’re new to veg box shopping, it might appear daunting at first but it’s a great opportunity to get creative and cook more at home. Here’s a guide to storing, planning, cooking, saving and making the most of your veg box.
UNPACK YOUR BOX
First thing’s first, unpack it. Store your fruit and veg properly so you can be sure they will last as long as possible – the last thing you want is a forgotten box of sad-looking veggies. Store root vegetables in a dark, cool place, while the rest of your veg can go into a tidy space in your fridge. Put apples and berries in the fridge, while your bananas are best kept at room temperature away from the rest of your fruit bowl. Read more here on how to store your food to help it last twice as long.
MAKE A MEAL PLAN
Now you’ve unpacked your box and you know what you’ve got, plan your meals for the week. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be super strict with it but having a rough idea of what you’ll eat when will help you to get through your box, and will give you a chance to get creative with it too.
Prioritise the veggies that have a shorter life span. Leafy greens will need to be used first, while root vegetables, like potatoes and onions, can last at least a couple of weeks if stored properly.
WHAT ABOUT THAT RANDOM CAULIFLOWER?
The beauty of a veg box is getting produce you might not regularly choose out of habit. Use it as a chance to experiment – don’t know what to do with cauliflower? What about blending it up to turn into rice or to make a pizza base? Bored of carrots? Spiralise them into a carrot carbonara. Here are seven creative vegetable-loving ideas.
Have a few flexible recipes up your sleeve too – these are the types of dishes that can adapt to whatever fruit or vegetables you’ve got. If you’re not in the mood for soup at this time of year, what about galettes or simple puff-pastry tarts, veg fritters or fruity pancakes, fridge-raid frittatas or throw-it-all-in traybakes.
A quick Google is also often helpful, while saving ideas and recipes on Instagram or Pinterest can be a helpful resource to go back to. Follow us @oddboxldn on Instagram for waste-cutting tips and ideas on how to use your veggies.
SAVE THE SURPLUS
You’ve made your meal plan, you’ve experimented with unusual veggies and enjoyed your old faves but it’s nearing the end of the week and you know you won’t get through it all – it happens to us all. There are ways you don’t have to let all those rescued veggies go to waste.
Freezing your fruit and vegetables will extend their life for some months and by prepping and chopping them now, you’ll be able to whip up a soup or smoothie easily later down the line. We’ve put together a guide to freezing all of your fruit and veg here. Your future self will thank you.
Refreshing, crisp, vinegary pickles are another way to save your veggies – we love them as a way to pep up a salad or sandwich, to lift leftover soup out of boredom or as a snack on the go. Try this recipe for a Vietnamese-style pickle.
Cooking a batch of veg will help them last for a few more days too. Got the oven on? Spend 10 minutes chopping surplus vegetables, like fennel, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots or onions, tossing with oil, salt and pepper and roasting until tender. A tray of vegetables will add colour and flavour to an omelette or frittata, a salad or wrap. Chop and blanch leafy vegetables and greens, like kale, chard, spinach and broccoli in hot water, then blend in a food processor with grated cheese, nuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and olive oil to make pesto. Store in a jar covered with a layer of olive oil to help it last, then spread on hot toasts or toss through pasta over the following week.
Want more tips? Here are 20 more hacks to rescue your food waste.