Becky mentioned Cooperative Extension. In most of the US, the Extension Service is organized at the county level, so Google the name of your county and "cooperative extension." The Extension Service is a program where major public universities that were given land to build on in the early 20th century pay it back by sharing their research with the general public, focusing mainly on agricultural technology, horticulture (gardening), nutrition, food science, textiles, and home economics. They will have information on farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs (where you buy a tiny share in a produce farm and get a vegetable box once or twice a month), they probably have free nutrition, cooking, and/or gardening classes now and then that would include teaching you how to get the most for your money, and it's possible that they'll even have free crafting classes of various types. If I'm guessing correctly based on your SparkPage, you live in a state where Extension has traditionally been very active.
And as for the "what's in season" information, that's probably in your nearest daily newspaper. Most dailies have one day a week when they have a special section on cooking and food; often that's the day you get the grocery store sale flyers and some papers even have grocery coupons (not the Sunday ones.) Where I have lived, this has always been either Tuesday or Wednesday. Somewhere buried in that section, there's almost always a single paragraph on what's in season and another one on what else is a bargain (meats, frozen foods, cereals, and some other foods that aren't really seasonal still have a sale price cycle-- things tend to go on special every 12 weeks or so.)
localharvest.org or you can go to your state's department of agriculture website. root around a bit and you can find what grows in your state and when.
it's more of a snack than a lunch, but if you take a wrap, spread it with peanut butter, layer in sliced fruit and roll it up it makes for a great hearty and portable snack.
onions and peppers could go well in any cauliflower dish. just mince or shred them before sauteeing them until soft. once you mix them into pretty much any cauliflower dish they'll be so small that you'll have a hard time finding them.
if i liked chicken and cauliflower i would make a somewhat saucy dish for dinner, leave the leftovers to soak up the flavor overnight and have the cauliflower and chicken in a wrap the next day.
While you do not have a formal farmers' market; do you have roadside produce stands (or sometimes a family will have a stand in their yard).
If you are looking for the best prices---just start to track fruit and veggie prices at your store. Check store flyers too. You will quickly learn when strawberries (and other selections) are at a good price and when they are sky high.
Make a stuffed Jkt Potato, pricking the skin and cooking it in the microwave. I finely chop up a little parsley, spring onion, red onion, bell peppers and mix with the flesh of the potato, along with a dollop of cottage cheese and a little grated reduced fat cheddar, a LITTLE bit of salt and pepper, then refill the jacket. I love them cold (and they are more filling that way too) so they are easy to grab 'n'go in the morning.
Measure out some wholegrain couscous with a little ground cinnamon and almond meal. In a little bag put some chopped dates When you go, grab that, and some milk in a container. When you are ready to eat, zap the milk and dates, and mix with the couscous. It is yummy and filling.
I sometimes have Roast Beef or Lamb sandwiches made up and in the freezer. The Lamb I put a little concentrated mint sauce over it, then sprinkle a little grated reduced fat tasty cheddar. The Beef I just put horseradish sauce over it - not too thick. I use a good quality wholegrain bread. It will keep fresh, thawing during the day, and they are both yummy zapped in the microwave. Have with a little home-made soup which has also been bulk cooked and in the freezer in individual serves.
I have sometimes taken cooked frozen rice with me and a little tin of flavoured tuna to add to it when it gets zapped, BUT if you can't keep the rice cool, don't take it. There is a risk of food poisoning.
I nearly always take some cut up pieces of fruit, and a few nuts, too. I only eat the nuts if I need them. I also always have a very high fibre bar in my bag in case I get caught short.
You CAN make smoothies the night before. Just put them into a thermos flask when you go.
1/12/14 9:45 P
@Becky: I live in a very small town and the only time a farmer's market is open, as far as I know, is in the summer. So that's not an option for me. All I have are a walmart and a krogers. Haha. Thank you for the link, though!
@KPA1B2: I was thinking about the fruit thing. I wish I could prepackage smoothies and take to work with me. Yum! Haha
When I plan dinners, I plan lunches. I usually take leftovers the next day. I will spend Sunday afternoon making serving sized items that I can just grab. I will pre-package my fruit & veggies, crackers etc. If I've made hard-boiled eggs, I peel them ahead of time and put in a baggie. I've found that when I take the time to do that, my lunches are much more healthy & filling.
Seasonal produce will vary based on your location in the country/world. I encourage you to make a visit to your local farmers' market to find out what is locally available. The farmers often will share storage and food preparation tips. Another great resource in the US is contacting your County Cooperative Extension Service. The Home Economist will have info on seasonal produce, cooking and preparation tips, storage ideas, etc.
Becky Your SP Registered Dietitian
1/12/14 5:54 P
I just need some ideas for some simple lunch ideas that are tasty, quick and filling. Maybe even some things that can be prepared the night before so I can just grab them and go in the morning and not have to worry about fixing anything up that morning.
Things I really like: Chicken, wraps, baby spinach (raw, not cooked), carrots, cauliflower, lots of different fruits.
I am *very* picky about my veggies and don't like a lot of what is out there. I'm *willing* to try new things as long as they aren't too expensive. No reason to spend a lot if I'm just not going to like the item.
I know that I don't like avocado for sure (I know that seems to be a popular item to put on and in things lately). I also do not like mustard so it is useless to suggest substituting it for mayo.
I'd, actually, also like to learn about what fruits/veggies are in season during each month/season...so that I can work on buying things while they're inexpensive instead of spending a lot of money on stuff that might not be of the best quality at the time.
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this website can be used without the permission of SparkPeople or its authorized affiliates.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.