A new addition to our Sustainable Living Series, here are some tips for buying locally grown food, reducing food waste, and making meals kids will want to eat! Amsterdam Mama and foodie Stephanie Harris, aka dam.foodie shares her practices for being mindful around mealtimes.
For many in our community making healthy meals their children will actually eat is a challenge, to say the least. Add sustainability concerns into the process and it can feel downright daunting. However, it is possible to create delicious, family-friendly meals while being mindful of honouring resources and supporting local growers and suppliers at the same time.
Getting Your Ingredients
Organising your meals around food that is in season is a great way to ensure that your food will be local, fresh, delicious, and often less expensive.
Shopping at local markets can get you of a food rut by allowing you to discover a wide range of seasonal produce on offer and providing a great opportunity to change up the weekly meal rotation and try a new dish or two. You will also be supporting local growers and suppliers and ensuring you are eating fresh produce which hasn’t travelled halfway around the globe to land on your plate. Talk to the vendors about their produce! Often they will engage to talk with great pride about their produce and how and where it was grown.
In and around Amsterdam there are a wealth of markets ranging from a weekly pop up to a daily market. This is not an exhaustive list of markets, each area has their own local markets so check out your local areas.
- On Friday the corner of Stadionweg and Minervaplein plays host to a tiny market with a handful of stalls including an organic fruit and vegetable stall and a specialist poultry and game vendor.
- On Saturday the ZuiderMrkt takes over the square on the corner of Jacob Obrechtstraat and Johannes Verhulstraat with a carefully chosen succinct selection of stalls featuring high quality produce grown or made in The Netherlands.
- The famous and sprawling Albert Cuyp Market is open Monday to Sat and runs the length of Albert Cuypstraat in the heart of De Pijp. Here you will discover a wide range of local and international food produce. Of particular note is the excellent fish vendor Siem Schilder & Zn.
- Just off Kinkerstraat in the Amsterdam Oud West you’ll find Ten Kate Markt offering a good selection of inexpensive food produce stalls.
If getting to the markets on a particular day is difficult, Lindenhoff, a farm and market located just outside of Amsterdam in the village of Baambrugge, offers a top quality range of home grown mostly organic produce which can be picked up in their store or delivered to your home. Of particular note is their excellent quality meat that although on the high end of the price scale, honestly allows you to say you got what you paid for.
If picking your own is more your thing do check out the Fruittuin Van West on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Here you will find seasonal fruit to pick plus fresh free range organic eggs (quite hard to source in The Netherlands I find), a funghi cave where you can pick your own mushrooms and an organic farm shop and cafe that stocks items all from local producers.
If you can, involve your children with your shopping and ask them to help you pick out the fruit and vegetables for this week's meals with a bonus challenge of picking something new that they haven’t tried before! You never know, they might just discover a new favourite.
Stretching Out Meals
Food waste is something I feel really passionate about. There’s nothing more frustrating than going to the effort to make something delicious which only half gets eaten. Or worse, slaving over a meal only to have the smallest members of your crew turn their little button noses up. AAARRRGGGHH! Here are some of the meals I like to make which can be switched up into something new to banish waste.
Gratin to Soup
Cauliflower (or another veggie) Gratin: As a Brit, a roast dinner is standard for us on a Sunday. We like to have cauliflower cheese gratin in the winter months but often a whole head of cauliflower is too much for us to eat. Rather than waste it or use the same side dish for another meal instead the next day I'll place the leftovers in a saucepan, cover with some vegetable stock and bring to the boil then lower to a simmer for a few mins before using a stick blender or food processor to blend (voila!) to a smooth, creamy, and veggie filled soup. If we have any leftover roast potatoes too I might also perk those back up in the oven and pop one or two into the bowl with the soup. My kids love this soup!
Mashed Potatoes and Beyond
Creamy mashed potato has to be the ultimate comfort food. Make THE BEST mash by baking the potatoes whole in their skin with the bonus of no peeling. Rather than waste the potato skin, after scooping out the potato flesh sprinkle the skin with salt and olive oil then I bake them until they are super crispy. leave them to cool then bash them into shards. Makes a delicious topping for soups, pasta and salads - full of fibre and goodness.
What to do with any leftover mash?
Try making gnocchi, pierogies, tortelli, croquettes, or fishcakes! If I'm honest, I make double mash just so I can make these ...
Rooting for Roots!
Roasted root vegetables are delicious this time of year. Parsnips, carrots, squashes, celeriac are delicious oven roasted If you find you have leftovers, making a quiche is the perfect use up for the excess. Add some goat cheese or gruyere and you’ve got a match made in heaven!
Bread Bread Bread!
Stale bread/loaf ends - never ever throw bread away! Make pangritata instead. Stick the leftover bread in a food processor (or grate by hand) to make crumbs. Pan fry with a little oil and a knob of butter, chopped garlic and herbs until toasty and you have the best ever topping for pasta, gratin, soup, salad - heck I’d eat it directly from the spoon.
Stephanie Harris is a mother of three, and a passionate self taught cook. You can find more recipes and tips at her popular Instagram account @dam.foodie