What to cook for dinner when very little produce is in season

I always try to cook with vegetables and fruits that are in season. But right now, late March, there just aren't that many options. This time of year makes me long for late spring when I can plant the vegetable garden and know I'll be able to pick produce in my back yard or go to the weekly farmers market in town.

So I need inspiration of what to cook with the staples available to me at the local supermarket. The staples are usually there: zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, brussel sprouts, eggplant, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Of course, there are frozen options like broccoli florets and edamame.

Knowing there are staples ready to go, I decided to create a plan for weeknight dinners using those ingredients. Meal planning is key for me since I have a long commute to the office and my schedule is hectic. I don't have a lot of time to cook during the week. Dinners, if they are not cooked over the weekend and then reheated, have to be ready in 30 minutes or less.

I also rely on my significant other to help out with making side dishes, such as rice or roasted potatoes or noodles. He always does a great job and never complains about helping! If you feel like you always have to do everything, trying asking someone in the house to help. You might be surprised by the answer!

Anyway, back to dinner recipes. The collection below combines spending a little time over the weekend to plan for the week plus (as usual) a vegetarian dish or two. Since I am flextarian, I rely heavily on making plant based meals part of the plan. My significant other agrees to eat one vegetarian dinner per week. Otherwise, I have to have a dinner plan that includes meat for him.

This is another reason why meal planning is important to me. I've made the decision to eat more plant based meals more often. If I didn't plan for having two lifestyles in the house, dinners would always be a challenge for me. The recipes I am sharing below will have only one vegetarian meal.

So what do I eat when my significant other is eating the rest of the recipes? I will prep the veggies that go with each recipe below separate from the meat. Then I will use the veggies for the meat based recipe and store the extra in a separate container.

For the main protein for my meals, I will use veggie burgers or soy based products like Gardein 7-Grain Crispy Tenders or I will buy Costco Veggie Burgers and freeze them for future use. The beauty of this strategy is the products I eat for dinner can cook in a very short period of time - anywhere from 8 minutes to 20 minutes. So I get to eat how I want to and so does my partner!

Here are five recipes to try in your household. If you try any of them, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing your takes on the recipes I share! Also, if you'd like to receive more recipes, healthy living and wellness tips, follow my blog on Bloglovin.


Broccoli Cauliflower "Meatballs" by Where is My Spoon. This is a great recipe that I would modify by using cauliflower rice and frozen broccoli florets. The recipe calls for two eggs but I would use an egg-replacer to make this vegan. Then serve the "meatballs" on pasta. Click here for the recipe.

broccoli recipe

Baked Chicken and Zucchini Casserole with Tomatoes by Low Carb Yum. This is a recipe that can be made over the weekend and then simply heated up for dinner. It calls for mozzarella cheese which you could substitute non-dairy cheese. I've done that and my significant other cannot tell the difference! Click here for the recipe.

chicken recipe

One Pot Pork Chops and Peppers from First Home Love Life. This recipe is one that I would cook during the week because it is ready in 30 minutes. It uses frozen sliced peppers but I would use fresh and simply slice them on the weekend and store them in a container in the fridge until I was ready to cook with them. Click here for the recipe.

pork chop recipe

Chicken and Mushrooms with Garlic Butter from Sweet CS Designs. This recipe uses flavorful chicken thighs and is made in one pot! Sweet CS also makes notes to modifications you can make depending on your dietary needs. For example, the butter can be swapped out for avocado oil. Also, they note you can use green beans instead of the mushrooms. I say add them as well! Click here for the recipe.

chicken recipe

Tilapia Vegetable Casserole by Natasha's Kitchen. I thought this was an interesting way to use frozen fish. Frozen fish is usually less expensive than fresh and works well in recipes like fish tacos. I am definitely going to try this recipe. I'll probably add frozen chopped spinach to the vegetable mixture to add a little more veg-power to the dish. Click here for the recipe.

tilapia vegetables

I hope this post inspired you with recipes that can be made when in season produce is sparse. If you try any of the above, please leave me a comment below. I love hearing what you think! Follow my blog on Bloglovin.

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