I’m no stranger to meal planning. I love cooking, and meal prep (the chopping and peeling and dicing) is, for me, a very zen way to transition between the stress of the workplace and the stress of evening parenting.
With spring’s advent and the sight of all the growing things, you might be considering a produce box. Especially if you aren’t the gardening type. I admit I’ve tried to grow my own vegetables but the only thing I grow without fail are weeds.
I’ve tried a few, both local and national produce box options, and I think I have finally found my sweet spot. I need to be able to get the produce box on a weekend before I meal plan, so I plan around it. I need to be able to choose what goes in the box, and I need to be able to adjust the frequency with which I receive it.
Those are the questions I needed to ask myself before purchasing a box. Let’s see what questions you may need to ask yourself.
Questions to ask yourself, when choosing a produce box
When can it be delivered/picked up?
Many of our local farms offer a CSA (community-supported agriculture) box on varying schedules. Lane Specialty Gardens offers baskets in two sizes. Misfits Market is a national option. I find it is best to get the box/basket before I meal plan and shop for the week, which I tend to do on Sundays. I found a service that does Saturday delivery which suits me perfectly. If the company/service/farm does not offer pick up or delivery on a day or time that works in your schedule, you are a lot less likely to use the produce, no matter how wonderful it is.
How adventurous are you and your family?
If your family will try anything once and you are an adventurous cook, a CSA box or basket in which the contents are mostly a surprise, and that you cannot adjust for your own family’s preferences, might be just the thing to dig you out of a meal planning rut. As adventurous a cook as I am, and given my kids are pretty cool trying new things, I like having some control over the contents that I receive. So the best fit for me is a service that offers some customization.
What kind of commitment are we talking about?
I am commitment-phobic. I do not like subscriptions and recurrent charges. I like the ability to pause and adjust my order. Other families prefer a consistent level of expectation, and that schedule works for them. No matter what your own preferences are, this is definitely something to consider.
I personally love my produce box. Even though I know generally what’s coming, it still feels like opening a present every week. The piles of fruit and vegetables are inspiring to me, and I have really enjoyed creating meal plans around seasonal produce.
One box I received full of potatoes and carrots and just spoke “pot roast” to me. Another box had jalepenos, cilantro, and mango, and I made a spiced pork loin with mango salsa one night that week that I was so proud of. This week’s box has a bunch of red and yellow bell peppers which will become stuffed peppers on Monday and fajitas later in the week. So many options!