Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce

by Merissa on July 7, 2014

in Meal Plans

Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce - Little House Living

Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce

One of the best ways to add variety and excitement, as well as good nutrition to the family dinner table is by eating with the seasons.  Eating seasonally has a natural rhythm to it, and stands in stark contrast to the season-less feel to the grocery store.

When we are in the cold winter months craving warmth and comfort, sturdy root vegetables that stand up to soups and stews are what the ground brings as nourishment.  Just as we begin to tire of heavy dishes, spring begins to emerge, and brings light and bright produce such as delicate lettuces, greens, and peas.  When we are at the height of the blazing heat in the middle of summer, water rich juicy produce is abundant to hydrate our bodies and provide antioxidants to help protect us from the sun.

My favorite part about eating with the seasons is the taste.  Oh my!  I never knew strawberries could taste so sweet before we started growing our own and I tasted a juicy red sun ripened strawberry for the first time.  Fresh carrots taste nothing like the ones from the store.  They are powerful and bright in flavor.  And a ripe summer garden tomato?  It makes you never want to eat a tomato out of season ever again.  There is just no comparison.

Most of us can agree that eating seasonally provides the best nutrition, tastes great, is less expensive, and adds a sense of anticipation to eating.  The question is how then do we create a meal plan around seasonal produce?

I will walk you through how to do just that by sharing with you seasonal produce in each season and easy sample meals and menus using those items. Recipe links are provided when available.

Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce

Winter

In season produce:  winter squash, beets, parsnips, cabbage, carrots, onions.

Note:  Very few things actually grow in my area in the winter, but if stored properly, root vegetables can stay fresh most of the winter and of course, you will have your home canned produce.

Sample Meal Plan:

Breakfast:  Oatmeal with any apples or other fruit preserved, Eggs and Sauerkraut, Beet Pancakes
Main Dish:  Stuffed Winter Squash, Cabbage Casserole, Cabbage Soup, Sauteed Beef and Cabbage, Pureed Winter Squash Soup.
Side Dishes:  Easy Winter Squash, Roasted Beets, Warm Beet Salad, Parsnip Fries, Sauteed Cabbage, Honey Glazed Carrots.

Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce

Spring

In season produce:  Swiss chard, dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, spinach, lettuce, arugula, snap peas, strawberries, broccoli, asparagus, radishes, carrots

Sample Meal Plan:

Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs with Spinach or other greens, Fried Eggs with Asparagus, Granola with Strawberries and Milk
Main Dish:  Lettuce Salads topped with Chicken or other protein, Beef and Broccoli, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Chicken and Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry, Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuits, Amish Chicken Casserole.
Side Dishes:  Swiss Chard with Bacon and Onions, Kale Chips, Spinach and Strawberry Salad, Roasted Broccoli, Roasted asparagus

Creating a Meal Plan Around Seasonal Produce

Summer

In season produce:  tomatoes, peppers, green beans, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, peaches, yellow squash, zucchini, new potatoes

Sample Meal Plan:

Breakfast:  Zucchini Bread, Yogurt with fresh seasonal fruit, Eggs with fresh Salsa
Main Dish:  Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic and Herbs, Fajitas with Peppers, Breaded Eggplant over Pasta, Zucchini Boats, Stuffed Peppers, Kabobs, Sandwiches topped with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, etc.
Side Dishes:  Cucumber and Tomato Salads,  Steamed Green Beans, Boiled Green Beans and New Potatoes, Fruit Salads, Smoothies, Zucchini Cakes.

Fall

In season produce:  apples, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, collard greens, kale, beets

Sample Meal Plan:

Breakfast:  Pumpkin Muffins, Baked Apple Oatmeal, Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Main Dish:  Pumpkin Soup, Potato Soup, White Bean Soup, Roasted Root Vegetables with Sausage
Side Dishes:  Sweet potato and apples, southern collard greens, roasted beets

You can find a full winter sample menu here and a full spring sample menu here to give you even more ideas!

My favorite season of produce is definitely summer.  What about you?

tarabio

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Wendy July 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

Hi,
I’ve been enjoying your story and blog so much but starting a couple of weeks ago your pictures stopped showing up (on this page and on my reader page). Has anyone else had this problem? Is it just me?
Thanks again for this sweet blog and for the love of god, stay ahead of the zucchini.
Wh

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2 Merissa July 7, 2014 at 9:47 am

Hmmm, I haven’t heard of that problem yet and I’m not sure why it would be doing that. Do you have some kind of blocking software installed on your computer or is it just my images that seem to be not showing up?

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3 Penny Zeller July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

What a great post! And especially awesome because I can print it out! 🙂 I found you through Tuesday’s linkup and am now following you on Twitter. Have a blessed rest of your week, Tara!

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4 Wendy, A Day in the Life on the Farm July 9, 2014 at 7:12 am

Stopped by from Wednesday Whatsits. Your post intrigued me because I, too, try to eat and cook seasonally and locally. I will be back to check out some of your recipes for sure.

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5 Gentle Joy July 9, 2014 at 9:31 am

This is a good thing to do…. we had salad this week w/ the first tomato, pepper, and cucumber from our garden, also used – swiss chard, basil, dill, purslane, and more from the garden…. it was SO GOOD – and tasted even better since we knew that most of the salad came from our garden. 🙂

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6 Pamela July 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Thank you again. We have just joined a CSA. I was looking for recipes like this!

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7 Rachel July 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

This meal plan is exactly what I needed! I started my garden this year and it seems like everything ripened at once. I am worried about it going to waste but your ideas are awesome! Pinned.

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8 Jill July 13, 2014 at 11:23 am

We tend to create meals based on what is available fresh locally. I have to agree with you, eating a sun ripened tomato makes me never want to get one at a grocery store again.

Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

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9 Gaye @CalmHealthySexy July 17, 2014 at 7:46 am

Hi Tara and Merissa – These are great tips. I love having a big garden, but I have to be intentional about planning and usually all of the vegetables it produces! Thanks for sharing with the Let’s Get Real Party.

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10 Jen October 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hi Tara,

I am new to your site and I love it! I am truly a “groupy”… wow. I could spend all day here. Thank you so much for all you do and share so that we too can plan and eat sustainably. Many blessings and much thanks to you!

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11 Tara October 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Hi Jen. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I wrote the post as a contributor, but this is Merissa’s site. It is a bit confusing with the different authors. And I agree with you, Merissa does have a fantastic site. Tons of great ideas and tips.

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