Why Eat Seasonally?
Eating seasonally has many benefits:
- Taste – In-season produce is often much tastier than out of season produce because it doesn’t have to be shipped as far (or at all) and can ripen for longer on the plant.
- Health – For the same reason that in-season produce tastes better, it’s also generally higher in nutrients.
- Support Local Economy – Eating in-season means you can support the local economy and your local food growers by buying from local farmers instead of the grocery store.
- Cost – Eating seasonally also means you’re buying food when it’s least expensive, saving on your grocery bill.
Because I keep a garden, seasonal eating is a necessity. But it’s also a lot of fun to find what’s coming into season in the grocery store or farmer’s market and figure out how to use those items.
How to Eat Seasonally (& Have Fun Doing It)
Moms are often already stretched thin, so adding one more thing to the to-do list can be very overwhelming. Luckily seasonal eating doesn’t have to be another to-do list item. It can be a fun addition to a healthy lifestyle.
Have a Plan
Having a plan for using seasonal produce is important. If you don’t normally meal plan, now might be a good time to start. I use Real Plans to plan out my family’s weekly meals. It’s much simpler than doing it myself and Real Plans automatically serves up seasonal recipes!
To start eating seasonally you’ll have to change your mindset a bit. Instead of eating blueberries every other week throughout the year you’ll have to find interesting ways to use them in the summer when they’re in season (or frozen ones at other times).
When it comes to finding seasonal recipes for the produce you’re growing or buying locally, keep it simple. Don’t try to cook complicated dishes before you’re comfortable with using certain ingredients together. Stick with simple recipes and build your skills and knowledge base slowly.
What to Do With Seasonal Produce
Once you start to buy produce seasonally, you’ll realize that you end up with a lot of one thing at a time.
Here are some ideas for dealing with large amounts of seasonal produce:
- Learn to preserve – If you can buy or grow lots of tomatoes in the summer, learn to can or freeze them for the winter. Do the same for other produce you find in-season. If canning isn’t your jam (pun intended), try pickling, freezing, drying, or fermenting to extend the life of in-season foods.
- Adjust to eating more when it’s fresh – We tend to eat the foods we like at regular intervals all year. But seasonal eating asks us to eat a lot of one item when it’s fresh (and little or none at other times of the year). That means we might eat lots of berries in the summer, but stick with citrus fruits in the winter.
- Bake with the extra – Another option is to make sweet breads, muffins, casseroles, and quiches with whatever you have a lot of and freeze those for later.
When I get a large harvest from my garden or the farmer’s market I do all three of these things! It gives the kids something to look forward to (all the strawberries you can eat in June!) and adds routine to the year.
What’s in Season Now?
What produce is in season depends on where you live in the world. The easiest way to know what’s in season is to go to your local farm or farmer’s market and see what they are producing. You can also check a state-by-state seasonal food guide.
But local foods are not the only in-season foods. Foods that travel from other climates also have a season.