It used to be love…is it over now?

Almost two years ago, when I first had a few weeks of going supermarket-free, I ordered an organic veg box from a local farm. I was pretty delighted with my fortnightly delivery and since then I have played about with the order – adding fruit and eggs, making it plastic-free and increasing it to once a week. It was even the inspiration of a number of blog posts, in which I demonstrated ways to use it up.

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Over time though, I’ve found myself falling a little out of love with my veg box.  As I upped the delivery and increased its frequency, it became so demanding!  The novelty of our wholesome and eclectic delivery had worn off somewhat, and we’d slightly dread the weekly arrival, that needed unpacked and cleaned up to fit in the fridge. As the months passed, we were finding that we weren’t using up our whole delivery because – let’s be honest – we’d not put the necessary time into meal planning and preparation.

Things finally came to a head when our compost bin got full a few months ago. We forced ourselves to look at what we were binning each week. Too much. The advantages of supporting a local supplier and buying organic were being compromised by wasting food and money.

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This is the empty compost bin – the full one isn’t pretty!

When I look at what ‘went wrong’, the answer is twofold:

Firstly, we stopped putting so much effort into using up our veg (the fruit has never been so much of a problem). When we started the veg box, I was supermarket-free and the easiest way to make meals was to use what was in the house. The children were also very small and it was important to me that they ate home cooked food, made with fresh organic ingredients. Secondly, although I had less child-free time then, ironically I had more time for cooking, as I could do things while they entertained each other.  Now I am constantly in and out dropping them at different activities. With my eldest away for most of the day now, my youngest needs me as a replacement playmate and that, of course, is my priority.

We made the decision to reduce our delivery back to fortnightly, which has been a relief and far more manageable.  However, I still don’t feel I’ve achieved the perfect balance.  For starters, the farm closed over the festive period, when our box was to be dropped off, which meant that we didn’t get a delivery for four weeks. FOUR WEEKS!!!There’s nothing like absence for making the heart grow fonder.  We were constantly running out of fruit and the kids weren’t happy about that at all…

I also found that I was buying more fruit and veg from the supermarket again which makes me really really unhappy 😦 I felt guilty for spending more money there (as opposed to buying local), the prices aren’t that cheap (it can be downright expensive to buy the organic there that I’ve got so used to), everything looks too perfect and so I worried about fertilisers. Finally, almost everything comes wrapped in plastic and/or is sitting in a polystyrene tray.

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All the fruit & veg here is swathed in plastic

So what’s the solution?

The only real answer that I can come up with is that I’ll need to get cooking again! Although the fortnightly delivery is much easier, I don’t think it’ll be enough to sustain us when we go supermarket-free again over Lent.

I have lost my enthusiasm for cooking and I think the only remedy for that is to settle down with the internet, find some exciting new recipes and give myself some time to try them out. (I used to particularly enjoy cooking with the music turned up and a glass of wine as a treat. Since the children have become a bit older though, I seem to have dispensed with the kitchen – it turns out I can still enjoy the music and wine, but in a different environment and with friends…!)

Finally, I could use the freezer a bit more.  Although I batch cook, I could routinely prepare veg for freezing if I don’t have time to make them into an actual meal.  I should also be giving away any veg I can’t use.  If I give it to the right people, I occasionally get some back that has been cooked into something for me!

If you’ve experienced falling out of love with your veg box, let me know.  Perhaps we can support each other in making this challenging relationship work 😉

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13 thoughts on “It used to be love…is it over now?

  1. They say you have to work at making relationships work, Westy! I know in England veg boxes start getting particularly depressing this time of year: it’s all cabbage and turnips. In the summer you won’t feel so bad! You gotta remember the good times and work through the bad times : p

    I would say yes, you gotta get back into cooking. But you don’t need to slave away over the stove either. One thing I do if I can’t be bothered is bake EVERYTHING that can be baked. I roast squash, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, carrots…whatever, and then either freeze or store in the fridge. That way when I can’t be bothered to cook I have roasted veggies to mix with pasta/rice, or throw in a salad, or add to a risotto. Something to think about!

    • Thanks for your comment and apologies for the very late reply – I have just had so little time for blogging lately 😦 You’re right though, this relationship with the veg box needs work! Time to get cooking! Baking is a great tip, I rarely do that with veg (apart from with potatoes of course!) Thank you!

  2. Such an honest post that lots of us can relate to. I cancelled my veg box in the end because the challenge became a chore. I’m lucky in that I can buy loose stuff in a local farm shop so I can pick and choose. I think, if you’re determined to say goodbye to the supermarket, you’re really going to have to improve your relationship with your freezer. If batch cooking feels too much; how about cooking one extra portion whenever you cook a meal, so it doesn’t feel like such a slog? And definitely prepping and freezing all the veg works well for me – love the idea of giving it away and getting a meal in return!
    Hope you rekindle the flames of passion soon! x

    • Thanks and sorry for the hugely delayed reply! Turns out loads of you have chucked your veg boxes (something to think about in itself…) I already batch cook but need to do it more frequently and with more variety – there’s only so much tomato sauce I can expect my kids to eat! Glad to hear you find it useful to freeze veg once it’s prepped, I need to get on to it! x

  3. I’ve just gone back to having a veg box. I found that random veg every week was too much and wait until I have used up the contents of one box before getting another one. Can you do that with your scheme or do you have to have a regular order?

    • Finally a reply! So sorry for the delay! Yes, I can use up the contents of my box before ordering another one. I need to work out what will suit my needs better just now. It turns out a weekly veg box doesn’t work especially well for most people (judging by the comments I got here!) Maybe I need to stop being hard on myself but I definitely need a workable solution – I’m gonna get to it!

  4. Oh such a welcome relief to know im not the only one! We get weekly veg boxes and, whilst the novelty at first was like a dreamy honeymoon period of organic veg bliss, my taste buds are beginning to loathe winters seasonal veg!! I cant fault our veg box for being local, seasonal and plastic free, but if i have to see another cabbage or swede again i might just throw it at the delivery guys head! That said they are always ameanable to tailoring it to things i do use a lot of, and being a veggie vacuming vegan, i rarely have issues using them all (even if i do give in to yet another surprise spicy veg soup…) xx

    • Oh, your reply made me laugh! I have a muddy celeriac sitting on my kitchen counter that makes me feel guilty every time I see it – perhaps a surprise spicy veg soup is the way forward! I need to get my arse in gear and get on with it (especially as I’m just about to embark on supermarket-free lent again – arrrggghh!) Hope all’s well with you, apologies for the very delayed reply, I have had so little blogging time which I hope is just about to change!! xx

  5. I’m fortunate enough to have some produce from the garden and a good local greengrocer’s so I no longer order a veg box. When I did it involved planning and a degree of inventiveness in finishing it all but there were a few options for using up stragglers:
    – soups;
    – stews often with a handful of beans or chickpeas;
    – cakes and breads. We don’t instinctively think of vegetables and cakes/breads but there are loads of options: e.g. mash a boiled parsnip into a soda bread mix and add some herbs, beetroots as an ingredient in brownies (it cuts the amount of sugar and moisture you need), carrot cake…

    • Thanks for your reply and, once again, sorry for my delayed response. I so appreciate all the tips I get on here!

      It turns out loads of you have chucked the veg box in favour of supplies that you can buy as you use or need them. You’re right, I could be looking at soups, stews etc. Cakes with veg sound amazing (and great for getting veg into the kids too!)

  6. Pingback: Lent 2015 Challenge | westywrites

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