- Find out how to cook all the vegetables you'll get
Not knowing how to use the mystery vegetables that sometimes arrive in your veg box is the number 1 reason people cite for giving up on their veg box.
The Rogue's Gallery helps you identify the mystery item and gives you links to all you need to know about preparing and storing.
- Make sure you know how to store it
"Doesn't it go off quickly?" is one the most common questions we're asked about veg boxes.
The good news is that if you know how to store vegetables properly, most of them should last the week. Some will last much longer.
"But don't supermarket vegetables keep for longer?"
Sometimes, yes. But pre-washed vegetables should actually go off more quickly. The layer of mud protects carrots, potatoes and beetroot and should mean they keep for weeks.
If supermarket vegetables keep for what seems like a long time, then they've probably been chemically treated (watch out for "packaged in a protective environment", which means the storage bag is filled with chemicals...
Put it this way, it's not natural for a bag of salad leaves to keep for 7 days...
- Get your family into a wider range of vegetables
"But my kids / husband / wife / dog are fussy eaters," laments many a potential veg box user.
The bottom line is that kids often reject vegetables they're not used to eating.
So get them into the widest range of veggies possible, before signing up for a veg box scheme.
Worst case, you can always disguise new varieties in a pasta sauce (such as with Autumn Secret Vegetable Pasta)!
The bottom line is that if kids are fussy eaters, their diet could be too restricted and they might be missing out on vital nutrients. A wide range of fruit and vegetables is the best way of keeping them fit and healthy.
- Learn how to get creative
There's a strong chance that your veg box could bring you a particular item a few weeks in a row. Broad beans, courgettes and runner beans are typical examples.
These tend to come in gluts with quite a short season, so you'll get loads and then none till the next year.
Rather than getting exasperated at "yet another week" of a veggie, it's easier to get creative.
Veg Box Recipes' ingredients section covers how to store each ingredient and a list of recipe ideas. Or you can search the veg box recipes index. So make sure don't accidentally end up serving steamed runner beans 3 nights a week for a month, or you can guarantee you'll be fed up of them.
If things really start to get to you, contact your veg box provider and ask them to stop sending you that item for a few weeks, to give you a break!
- Opt out of your least favourite items
Do you feel sick at the thought of eating celery? Or maybe your kids won't touch cauliflower? Or perhaps you're missing a penchant for parsnips...
If there's an item that you know you never want to receive, opt out of it, rather than getting it and throwing it away. Most box schemes will allow you to opt out of 1 to 3 items. Much more than that would become a logistical nightmare for them.
So use your opt-out. But make sure you really do hate what you're giving up. It could just be you've never had it cooked properly...?
- Complain, if the quality's not up to scratch
Occasionally, an item might creep into your veg box that's not quite how it should be.
We're not talking muddy or funny shapes - all that's perfectly ok and healthy. We're talking mouldy or rotting.
Rather than grumbling and starting to resent your box scheme, tell them about it. They'll probably replace the item or give you something extra next week.
We have never heard of a box scheme that didn't want to know about quality issues. If you don't tell them, they can't fix them!
So get on the phone and explain the problem. That way you'll make sure your vegetables always arrive deliciously fresh.
- Plan meals ahead
One of the exciting parts about having a box scheme is that you're never quite sure what you're going to get.
But that can also be tough, if you're not organised.
The best way to make the most of your box scheme is to plan ahead.
As soon as it arrives, look at the contents and work out how long everything will keep.
Plan your meals so you use the stuff with a shorter shelf life earlier in the week. This means you won't have to throw stuff away for going off. Simple.
- Find a good place for them to leave the box, or use a collection point
If you work full time, it can be impossible to be around when your veg box is delivered.
Most deliveries will leave your box somewhere around your house that you have agreed.
It needs to be cool and shady (to stop summer lettuces wilting) and dry (to stop your veggies getting a winter soaking).
But if you don't have anywhere suitable, what can you do?
Most schemes have nominated local collection points. These are either shops, businesses or homes who have agreed to have lots of people's boxes delivered to them, to be collected that evening.
This arrangement works really well and means everyone ought to be able to find a solution that works for them.
- Get ready to save money
"But aren't organic veg boxes expensive, compared to supermarkets?"
Actually, you're likely to save money and reduce the amount of food you throw away.
Preparing meals from fresh fruit and veg is cheaper than using pre-prepared food. You'll be using more fresh vegetables, which means you need less of the expensive ingredients, like meat.
You'll also be saving a fortune by avoiding impulse buys and special offers in the supermarkets. Recent research suggests that 25% of a typical supermarket shop is influenced by special offers and that much of this food is wasted.
Also, by buying direct from the producer, you're cutting out the middle men and getting a better price.
So having a veg box scheme usually saves you money.
- Choose the right box for your needs
Most veg box scheme suppliers offer different sizes of veg box. They even offer some that are suitable for people who live alone.
Make sure you do your homework and find the right sized box for you.
You can often request fortnightly delivery, rather than weekly, if that suits you better.
Or maybe you could share your veg box with a friend or neighbour?
The most important thing is to understand that veg boxes do require some effort from you. You'll be preparing meals from fresh ingredients, which takes a little more time than pre-packaged supermarket food.
There's nothing more disappointing at the end of the week than throwing away most of last week's veg box contents. So if you're not sure you'll use it all, it's probably best not to sign up for a box scheme.
But if you do, the good news is you're on the road to eating healthier, fresher food!