Friends of mine often ask me how I source food and plan my weekly meals, so I'd start with how I shop for local food. On Friday's I use our HarvestHand CSA Software platform which powers the TaprootFarms.ca website and the HarvestHand Shopping List tool which runs WolfvilleFarmersMarket.ca/whatsfresh to plan my meals for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Tuesday, since I currently have the small veggie CSA share (for info about CSA's, see 'What is a CSA') from Taproot Farms, I order the rest of my week's groceries online through the add-on products section at TaprootFarms.ca (only available to Taproot CSA members). Here's what my weekly shopping flow looks like:
Step 1: Go to http://taprootfarms.ca/shares to see what I received in my vegetable share this week and to see what I will get next week in my vegetable share.
Step 2: Go to http://www.taprootfarms.ca/newsletter to find recipe ideas that I can make with my CSA veggie share. I'll often read recipe blog posts from Halifax Food Bloggers, Kitchen Vignettes or Food 52 for inspiration. If I have specific vegetables, meat or grains I need to cook, I'll use Food Gawker to find a recipe or idea for how to combine ingredients I already have.
Step 3: Go to http://www.wolfvillefarmersmarket.ca/whatsfresh to see what's available at the market on Saturday and make a list of items I still need for meals. I am very excited about this because I often find that I get overwhelmed at the market without a list and I can never possibly know what's available in a given week. Is asparagus season over? Is it not? I never know. It's also a fun way to explore what's available and think about how I can combine it with stuff I have and the recipes I've been perusing.
Step 4: Email or print my shopping list. Usually I email my list to myself because I make it on my laptop and use my email on my phone to check my list. Sometimes I'll make the list on my phone so I don't have to email to myself and so I can make my list with one hand sorting through my fridge and or pantry.
On Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, I top up my CSA share produce by buying additional products through the Taproot website that I will then pick up with my CSA veggie share on Wednesday.
Step 1: Buy groceries online from Taproot's Add-Ons. To do this I login into my Taproot Farms account (only available to Taproot Farm members - see membership options- become a member here), select what I want, and pay for it. My order will be waiting for me with my veggie share on Wednesday.
Why Shopping this Way Makes Sense to Me
Making the shift to buying mostly local food requires more planning because naturally you eat much less processed (fast) foods and cook more delicious slow food (good, clean, fair). I love shopping and living this way. These tools enable me to think and plan ahead, choose carefully the food I eat, and look back at what I ate throughout the year. As a bonus, I tend to feel more healthy and full of energy because I've eaten well. I also tend to waste less food because I only buy what I need. Plus every week feels like Christmas when I open my CSA box to see all of the yummy food inside it.
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