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Jun 10, 2014

Take advantage of local, fresh ingredients when planning meals this summer

With all the activities of summer, getting the family together even one night of the week can be a challenge. But planning summer meals doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be delicious. All you need is a plan, some organization, some recipes and a sense of adventure.

Planning your meals saves time and money
In order to save time and multiple trips to the grocery store, plan a week’s worth of meals in advance and make sure that you have all the necessary ingredients to make dinner every night of the week. It also means that you won’t be at a loss for something to make for dinner, which usually results in eating out. And, you can make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Great summer recipes start with fresh ingredients
Summer is the best time to cook because there are so many fruits and vegetables in season. There’s nothing like going out to the garden and picking salad greens, tomatoes and other vegetables to make a nice, big salad. If you don’t have a green thumb – or time to have a garden – the local farmers market is the next best thing.

Fresh local Ingredients

Why you should buy local
Fresh produce tastes better. When food has to travel great distances, it’s in storage longer and starts to break down. This affects the flavor. Fresher fruits and vegetables are also more nutritious. Keeping it local means the produce you find is as fresh as it can possibly be.

From a practical standpoint, buying local keeps money in the local economic system –including tax revenue – which strengthens your local economy.

From an environmental standpoint, you’ll be supporting local farmers who may utilize organic farming practices. (Just ask; they’re usually happy to talk about their methods.) In addition to getting fresh ingredients, you’re also decreasing your carbon footprint. Local farmers don’t have to travel as far as the big vendors who supply grocery store chains.

Try making salads for dinner
Creating salads for dinner can be a great, quick alternative. Eating salad, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not getting protein. Salads can be very satisfying without packing in a bunch of calories. For some unique summer salad ideas, check out these salad recipes from Food Network.

What’s dinner without dessert?
With the hot weather coming on, now is the time for cool summer desserts, too! There’s no shortage of fresh fruits, berries and melons from which to choose. You can make a different dessert for Sunday dinner with the family and never run out of ideas. Try Pinterest or any of the recipe websites, including this page from Cooking Channel devoted to summer dessert recipes.

With a little planning, buying local, using what’s available in season and some fantastic summer recipes, you can save time and money while making sure your family is at the dinner table every night of the week.