5 Tips for Using Local Produce in Your Meal Plan

One of the best things about spring and summer is the veritable cornucopia of fruits and vegetables available at nearly every road-side stand.

A visit to your local farmer's market will yield an abundance of fresh fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, oranges, nectarines, peaches, melons, grapes, plums, blueberries and blackberries.

Try not to be overwhelmed by the mountains of produce - asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chillies, cucumber, aubergine, leeks, lettuce, pumpkin, rhubarb, spring onion, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips and courgettes - coming to a market near you.

Here are some tips for taking full advantage of spring and summer's bounty.

Make a stir fry

Stir fries are delicious and beautifully simple. Whatever vegetables you bought, chop them up and toss them in a wok. Throw in some chicken or tofu if you feel like you're in need of extra protein. Use brown rice or another whole grain like quinoa and you'll be delighted by this easy dinner option.

Have a veggie grill-out party

Grilled vegetables are hugely underrated and will wow you with their flavour and ease of preparation. Everyone loves grilled corn, but try a little grilled courgette this spring. Simply marinate thick strips of the vegetable with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a splash of lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper.

Roast them up

Doing this in large batches will save you time and effort. Get the kids chopping vegetables and then toss them in a bit of olive oil and season with oregano, thyme, basil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Add in whole garlic cloves for extra flavour (they get fabulously creamy when roasted), and put it all in the oven for a half hour or so. Roasted vegetables are an amazing side dish to any dinner, and also taste divine on salads.

Can or Bag

Pickling and canning your vegetables will allow you to reap the rewards of locally grown produce over winter. Similarly, make preserves or jam and store it for the colder months, or chop and freeze your fruit for use in desserts and smoothies. 

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