One of my favorite experiments that I’ve done so far for The Wellness Project has been the $40 Farmer’s Market Challenge. The mission of this “mini sprint” was to help me make healthy home cooking with higher quality ingredients more affordable, and to make it a weekly ritual.
It probably comes as no surprise why spending a weekend afternoon massaging kale might be more fun for me than, say, going 30 days without drinking. But until I forced myself to dedicate this time to making healthy meals for the week, cooking for myself was a lot more haphazard. And my monthly Seamless Web bill was a lot more impressive/horrifying.
The challenge was to spend $40 at the Farmer’s Market—or in the organic section of your grocery store’s produce aisle, butcher and/or seafood counter—and to use the haul to cook for the week ahead.
Since this particular experiment fits so well within the ethos of my site, at least, back in the day before I started talking about water bottles and green tea face masks, I wanted to continue sharing inspiration for your own Farmer’s Market explorations.
I wrote up some of my tips for Mind Body Green. But here’s the gist:
*You’re looking for around 5 dishes, 4 servings each, that can be executed within a 3-4 hour window on a weekend afternoon.
*All dishes should obviously include at least one fresh veggie or fruit.
*Make sure all the dishes will keep relatively well in the fridge for at least 3 days.
*The best way to stick to the budget is to include 1 pound of animal protein or less. You can either do one meat or seafood-centric main, or use it in two different dishes as a garnish. You can also keep the menu veggie or vegan!
*Rely on pantry ingredients to fill out the fresh. Think quinoa, lentils, brown rice, nuts etc.
*Try to stick with one ethnic theme so that all the dishes can be mixed and matched throughout the week.
*To keep the cooking time manageable, choose dishes that can be made with a variety of techniques. I.e. a mix of roasting, stewing and raw – not 4 dishes that require the stovetop.
*Keep things simple! One dish can be just roasted veggies.
Today, I was lucky enough to rope in Serena Wolf of Domesticate-Me to share some of her amazing late spring Farmer’s Market Challenge dishes with you.
Serena is a fellow private chef, blogger, and healthy hedonist of the highest order. If you’re not familiar with her site, hop over to check out more of her recipes. Warning: you may find yourself sucking back saliva at the sight of her lasagna quinoa bake, or accidentally spitting it all over your computer screen, because her posts are actually that funny.
If you love cocktails like black-beery whiskey smashes, and confessions, like how all that whiskey led to wearing ass-less chaps at a fraternity party, then also make sure to watch Serena’s new YouTube series.
I feel like I don’t get to shine on my favorite food people enough here, so expect that to change with more FMC menus from other domesticate goddesses of the blogosphere.
Parmesan is a great pantry cheese to keep on hand. A little goes a long way to adding flair to your produce, and it keeps for a few months.
These little cakes are a great make-ahead lunch if you want to pack your brown bag with Farmer’s Market goods.
You can add any seasonal veggies to this soup – get creative.
This is another great recycled veggie dish. If you can’t find some of the produce in these recipes at your market, sub in scraps from other parts of this menu. For instance, any leftover dill or basil would be great.
Since this menu is vegetarian, you should have some extra funds at the end to spend on fresh mozzarella.