So we have been doing the Acme Farms & Kitchen Locavore Food boxes for 6 weeks now. The producers source local ingredients and then provide boxed kits with everything from fresh produce, to locally farmed meat and seafood, to dairy, baked goods, and fresh pasta. But the best part is that it also comes with recipes designed to use said ingredients so you are not also then stuck with the creative part of figuring out how to use it all. This has been my downfall with prior CSA deliveries where despite my best well intentioned efforts, things end up going to waste before I can figure out how to use them all up. Lest it sound too good to be true, I should also mention that doesn't contain 100% of the ingredients for each recipe. So there still is some shopping required, but they do a good job of rotating among common pantry items (which they handily provide a list for) so that you are not having to constantly buy some random ingredient of which you will use one tablespoon and then sit in your fridge until it expires.
I am definitely loving the Acme boxes. First of all, it's like Christmas everytime I pick up a new box and get to open it up and see what's inside. Secondly, I appreciate the variety of recipes. They do a good job of really covering the gamut of flavors and cuisines. Third, in my opinion, it's affordable. $59 for their small basic box can cover dinners for us for most of a week. Often they have other interesting add on options where we may end up spending closer to $80 for a few fun treats. Can you eat for less? Absolutely. Can you eat this well for less? Probably, if you were to spend lots and lots of time and energy in planning and bargain shopping. However, the way we like to cook, I end up spending about the same or possibly slightly less money, plus have the ability to support local food growers while also spending way less time planning and shopping. At this stage in my life, the benefit far outweighs the cost.
It's not a perfect system. And it took us a few tries to figure out what was the right size and type of box for our family (they have lots to choose from.) We wish there were fewer pasta dishes, although the ones they do have are delicious with fresh local made pasta and sauces, pestos, and tapenades whipped up from scratch. Still, one a week is a bit more than ideal for us. Additionally, Don and I really prefer more meat in our diet than the recipes call for. However, like any tool, there has been a learning curve and as time goes by I am learning how to use it more and more effectively for our tastes. Several of the recipes lend themselves to easy additions and substitutions so we will often toss some chicken or sausage in with a pasta dish or some smoked salmon along with an egg dish as examples. But I also appreciate the education I am getting in expanding my vegetarian cooking knowledge and appetite. Realistically, the global population cannot indefinitely support as much meat as we consume per household so I consider this an investment in my culinary future. Finally, the recipes are not all designed for the busy weeknight chef either. While they usually have at least one or two quickies for the week, it's not uncommon to have one that takes 2 to 3 hours to prepare. So some advanced planning is necessary but at the same time we are experienced enough cooks typically to modify a recipe and whip something else up with the same ingredients if we don't have time to do things by the book.
But most of all, it continues to be fun. Caitlyn has been a great helper in the kitchen too and has become very fond of the word "sample." I know longer worry about how many veggies she's eating when she sits down to dinner because she has had plenty by the time it ever gets to her plate.
So what have we been eating? Here are the recipes we have covered in the last 6 weeks:
Roasted Salmon with Peppers and Fennel
Spaghetti Carbonara with Chard - the chard was blanched in the pasta water. I could not believe how delicious it tasted with such a simple process
Farro & Kale Salad with Pear and Blue Cheese - my newest favorite salad recipe. This will be a go to potluck recipe.
Split Pea Soup
Rigatoni with Red Pepper Sauce
Salmon Patties with Corn & Potato Hash - using salmon sausage, delicious!
Zucchini & Ricotta Galette with Green Salad - like eating pie for dinner
Linguine with Fresh Tomato Sauce - my first experience making tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes; I couldn't believe there was no sugar in the recipe.
Sausage Sliders with Caramelized Onions & Salad
Late Summer Vegetable Soup - loaded with garden goodies
Herbed Fettuccine with Chanterelles
Kielbasa with Cabbage & Potatoes - slow simmered in beer; best kielbasa we have ever had
Cheesy Poblano Strata - something I would have never picked out; so fun to try!
Squash Apple soup with Cumin Creme Fraiche
Pasta with Spinach Pesto (chicken added)
Lentil Soup - which we actually liked
Barbecue Brisket Sandwich
Fusili with Roasted Cauliflower & Parmesan Cheese (sausage added)
Sloppy Joes with Green Salad
Moroccan Stew - just made tonight; delicious smelling spices; solid vegetarian meal
Baked Eggs in Cherry Tomatoes & Spinach