Kitchen Basics – How to Streamline the Unpacking of Your AHO Box

Each time we bring home a box of Abundant Harvest Organics’ produce, we are bringing what is, in my opinion, the best California has to offer. Hands down.

I’d say this even if I didn’t work for them.

Those are some seriously good fruits and veggies.

I really enjoy unpacking the box and discovering the treasures inside. Here’s what I like to do to make it a hassle free process.

A Day or Two Before

Menu Planning

I like to plan my menu for the following week a few days ahead of time. This gives me a chance to figure things out and grocery shop before we are completely out of food. It makes my brain feel less cluttered when I have things planned.

This doesn’t always happen. There are some weeks when we eat a lot of PB&J, because I didn’t plan ahead. That’s ok too. It happens.

You know about the AHO blog’s Recipes Inspired by the Box posts, right? There are lots of great recipe ideas to help you to plan. You can also have a look at the list of box contents so you can make sure to have a plan for everything in your box.

If you need help with menu planning, check out our three part tutorial.

Clean Out the Fridge

It’s much easier to find fresh produce if it’s visible.

If it’s shoved behind a bag of forgotten green mush, I’m more likely to think that whatever is behind the bag of rotten is also bad.

If you can get things cleaned out before they’re moldy and spoiled, you can make veggie stock. (Or add veggies to chicken bones and make chicken stock.) I’ve been doing this for years. At $2-$4 a box at the store, the savings adds up. Plus, you know exactly what’s in it.

If there are any veggies that aren’t old enough for stock, but you won’t use soon, wash, dry, chop, and freeze in labeled containers.

The Day Of

Unpack the Box Next to the Weekly Menu

I like to make a list of what’s coming in the box beside the menu, so I can check things off as I plan for them. Sometimes I will change the menu as I open the box because a new idea comes to me.

Read the Newsletter

There are always useful storage tips in the newsletters. And, if you can’t find an ingredient on there, there are plenty of posts on the blog about how to store the produce.

Wash and Prepare

If I know I’m going to be using something soon, like greens, I may wash and dry them all at once. For some reason, I don’t love washing things like lettuce and spinach. I feel like it takes too long. It doesn’t really. But, I’m more likely to use them if I’ve washed them beforehand. However, lettuce doesn’t keep too long once it’s washed, so I try to just do this if I’m using it the day of, or maaaaybe the following day. Heartier greens, like kale, seem to be able to stand a few more days after being washed. (Note: for greens of any type, once washed and dried, I like to put a clean tea towel or paper towel in with the washed greens to absorb excess moisture. I keep the ziptop bags only partially closed too.)

For root veggies, I take the tops off and wash and save them for stock. The tops can also be sautéed or eaten raw (depending on the type – some are better one way over the other). For the actual root, unless I’m using them that day, I’ll save the scrubbing for right before they will be prepared.

We go through berries quickly. So I usually wash a container of berries and leave them ready and in the fridge. It’s much easier to grab a handful that way.

Where Should It Go?

I find that we eat more fruits and veggies when they are easy to see. A bowl on the counter works well, when fruit is ripening (think apriums, nectarines, and peaches). When they’re ripe, the bowl goes onto the top shelf of the fridge.

Roots and summer squashes go into the produce drawer. Onions, garlic, and potatoes go into a bowl in a dark cupboard. Tomatoes go stem down on the counter. Greens, broccoli, and cauliflower go into zip top bags, that are left partially open.

I read in one of the newsletters about snipping of the ends of fresh herbs and storing them in a glass with a bit of water, in the fridge (you can loosely cover with a plastic bag if you’d like).

A Jump on Dinner

If I know that we’re having borscht for dinner, I might prepare the veggies right out of the box. Then leave them in the fridge for later in the day. (Note: I realize that since I work from home doing… well, this, it’s much easier to prep this way. If you aren’t able to get to your box until after dinner on box night, you could prep for tomorrow instead.)

What About All That Paper?

Compost it (tear into small strips).

Recycle it.

Let it dry then use it to wrap gifts (we’ve had brown paper packages tied up with string for the past three years). You could make a stamp out of a potato (or just buy one) and cute it up! A heart, star, or balloon wouldn’t be too difficult to carve. Could be a fun craft to have the kids help with.

The Empty Box

I like to fold it up and put it in the trunk right away. Then I won’t forget it next week, when I do this all again.

Author Rachel Oberg

More posts by Rachel Oberg

Leave a Reply