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Best Way to Use Up Garden Produce – Garden Stir Fry

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Cook, Grow, Main Dish, Vegetable Gardening

If you find it difficult to use up your garden harvest, consider mixing up the kinds of meals you’re cooking. This veggie-based stir-fry is our easy go-to meal throughout the garden season.

A basket of freshly harvested garden produce.

When I first started gardening, I was very frustrated about how I never seemed to be able to reduce my grocery bill, even though I was putting in a lot of time gardening.

The reality was that my garden was a little bit small for the size of my family, and I wasn’t able to bring in enough of one crop (such as green beans or broccoli) at a time to keep from having to buy that item from the grocery store to serve it for dinner.

Back then, I learned a lot of tricks for feeding my family from a small garden. I’ve also learned that I must have a much larger garden if we want to enjoy fresh green beans for dinner or a nice side of broccoli that everyone gets to enjoy.

But even with a large garden, when it comes near the end of the gardening season, only a few items are trickling in slowly, without having enough to utilize one crop for a meal.

Here’s a trick I learned all those years ago to use up all the garden harvest without letting any go to waste, and wow, has it added up to a lot of savings on the grocery bill!

A woman picking beans from the vine.

The 3 Main Meals

Soups, Stir-Frys or Salads! Almost anything in the garden can go into a soup, stir-fry or a salad and make a complete meal when paired with a protein and/or a carb.

The trick to making complete meals from the garden is to “shop your garden” before meal planning.

It might just be a handful of this or that, but when combined can make a fantastic, healthy and filling meal.

It’s important never to assume two things don’t go well together unless you have previous experience with them. Always assume different vegetables go well together, and you may be surprised at what amazing combinations you can come up with.

Learn to grow greens all year round so you always have ingredients for a fresh salad. Learn to make homemade bone broth and then learn how to can bone broth, so you have it for quick soups any night of the week. Or learn how to make this quick and easy stir-fry to add on top of rice, pair it with a protein, or simply eat it as a healthy veggie-based lunch.

The Basic Cooking Method

When cooking up a basic stir-fry, you’ll want to cook your meat first, then your aromatics, then your firm veggies that take longer to cook, and finally those that cook up quickly.

This should be an easy meal, and to make it even easier we’re going to be cooking everything in the same pan!

  1. Uncooked Meat – If you’re using meat that hasn’t already been cooked for this recipe, add some oil to a pan and cook the meat. This can be diced chicken, ground or sliced beef, bacon, fish… whatever you have! Homestead Hack: If your meat is already cooked, wait to add it until the end.
  2. Aromatics – Remove the cooked meat and add in the aromatics such as garlic, onions, shallots, etc. Add more oil to the pan, if needed.
  3. Long-Cooking Veggies – Once the aromatics have just started to soften, add the veggies that take the longest to cook. These are veggies such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  4. Quick-Cooking Veggies – Once the long-cooking veggies are nearly cooked through, add the quick-cooking veggies, stirring constantly at this point to avoid burning.
  5. Cooked Meat – Just after you add the quick-cooking veggies, go ahead and toss in your cooked meat so it has a chance to warm through before serving.

There you have it! That’s my basic instructions for a quick and easy stir-fry. Be sure to check out some of these other posts to make weekday cooking even easier.

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