3 Ways to Get Fast Food From Your Garden

No time for homegrown meals? Nonsense.


You'd think if anyone were eating healthy meals every day, it would be me, the biodynamic farmer and green business owner, wouldn't you? My entire business day is spent showing individuals, communities, and companies how to grow their own food. Enjoying such bounty should be my standard operating procedure, right?

Complete honesty here. Just like many of you, my days require long hours, lots of travel, and many meals in restaurants or conference rooms where I often don't have a say as to what's available. Many days, I arrive home after dark, and those precious moments I like to spend in my garden or preparing fresh food don't always happen. Plus, now with a wife who has her own business as well—and did I mention our new baby?—we're pretty much stretched to the limit.

Is there room in this lifestyle for cooking from scratch with ingredients we grow ourselves? Not only is there room, there is necessity. If there's one thing I've learned through the years, it's that getting proper nutrition on a daily basis is a priority for keeping the pace required for my business. I've also learned that honoring my food is important to me, and I've developed some tricks for making it easy to do so. Want fast food that's also fresh and healthy? Here are some ideas that might fit your busy lifestyle :

1. Take two hours each week to process. Let your garden know you mean business.Slice, dice, sauté, purée, bake, and roast your weekly bounty. You simply won't believe how much you can get done in this time frame. The simple practice of dedicating this small window to processing your home-grown food stands the chance of becoming two of your favorite hours of the week. It's a time to be quiet, let light stream in the window, and honor the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. Or, perhaps, it's a time to catch up with your family, watch your favorite show, listen to some beloved music, or even visit with friends or neighbors as you invite them into your kitchen .

2. Fill the fridge. Make your newly processed food easy to "grab and go" by packaging it for the realities of your life. Put sliced, raw, fresh fruits and veggies in small containers to bring in the car for your commute; you'll find yourself snacking on red pepper strips and strawberries rather than that chocolate bar. Make a sauce with roasted tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, zucchini, and even butternut squash, and cook some pasta, so all you have to do is toss and heat when you come home. Pick, wash, and chop enough fresh greens for a few days, and prepare an herb dressing so your salad fixings are right at your fingertips.

3. Freeze for later. Make pesto from all that wonderful fresh basil, and freeze it in ice cube trays so you have it to add to soups, sauces, and pasta dishes or to simply spread on warm bread on that first chilly day of fall. Freeze sauces in 1-cup batches so you can defrost just what you need. Shred that bumper crop of squash in seconds in your food processor and freeze it in batches that fit your favorite zucchini bread recipe, so that making healthy muffins for a quick breakfast or a midday snack is a snap all winter long. Make at least one dish a week in which you can throw as much of your garden harvests as possible—think rice dishes, soups, quiches, and vegetable pancakes. You can vary these by changing the flavorings and the grains (such as farro, quinoa, or lentils) and, of course, the herbs and veggies will vary naturally with the seasons.

Why not give these tricks a try this week, and let us know how it goes? Tune in next week for tips on preserving your summer seeds—and memories.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Daron Joffe is a 30-something eco-entrepreneur who lives to make a difference in the world one homegrown organic fruit and vegetable at a time. Known as "Farmer D," Joffe has grown food for celebrities, private communities, and elementary schools in his "town-by-town mission to re-energize the food culture." His products are sold at select Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma stores. Born in South Africa and based in Atlanta, Farmer D is online at www.farmerD.com.