September 2 2009, 1:15 PM
As regular readers of Cheap Thrills know, I get my favorite local vegetables at farmers' markets as well as local grocery stores. But my best intentions often go awry, and I'll find a wilted bunch of cilantro, a deflated pepper, or a bunch of soggy spinach hiding in the back of my fridge. I recently discovered two tools that have helped my veggies survive a little longer. It's a one-two punch of planning: First, my live-in boyfriend and I make sure that we're buying the freshest vegetables possible. Next, we'll dig through a database of new recipes that inspire us to use those fresh vegetables. In season: I like to check the crop calendar from Colorado Fresh Markets to see when different crops are harvested locally. In September, we've got a great selection: apples, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and green beans, to name a few. The recipes: Kitchen Monki is a great way to get out of your recipe rut as well as keep your grocery list organized. I typed "carrot" into the recipe search, chose a tasty-sounding carrot-and-celery slaw, and then added it to my queue. My Monki grocery list was then updated, reminding me of the ingredients I'd need for the recipe. (The grocery list is, of course, printable.) You can go one step further and plan your meals for a month in a menu planner. There are slots for breakfast, lunch, snacks, appetizers, dinner, and dessert---all of which can be inspiring options for your fresh produce.