7 Steps to Making the Most Out of Your CSA Box

C S A … What does that even stand for? That it means “Community Supported Agriculture” doesn’t really help in understanding what it actually is.

CSA is not really a universal household term. So it probably isn’t a surprise that many CSA newbies don’t really know what to expect when they start one.

That’s why I asked several of our seasoned CSA members for what they do each week with their boxes. The responses I got were so great! Here I am sharing their advice and tips to help you lessen the learning curve to success with the unfamiliar CSA experience.

And really, even if you’ve been in the CSA for a while, you, too, might benefit from some of these tips.

I know that I definitely did. (Did you know that I also get a CSA for my kitchen? So I know just how it feels to get the “mother load” each week!).


Here is some of our most experienced CSA member’s advice to starting off your CSA season with success!


1. Remember to pick up your veggies!

Knowing your pickup times and location is super important to actually getting the veggies you signed up for! Find your's here and put them on your calendar, in your phone, or however you can remember them! 

If you have a vacation planned that may interfere with picking up your veggies, ask a friend or family member in advance to pickup for you. Or let us know that you won’t be coming so we can donate your farm share to the food pantry.

Do this one thing and you've gone a long way to success!  ;)


2.  Learn how to open your box without tearing it!  (This is particularly relevant at pickup locations in Bangor.)

Here's the tutorial on how to do it right!  Check it out!  Show your husband!


3. Bring a container to transfer your veggies into right at your pickup location.

Here’s a pic of Farmer Gene holding up the big liner bag that all of your veggies will come in:




This bag will be inside a wax produce box like the one he is holding. Please bring another container like a box, insulated bag or cooler along to put the veggies into right at the pickup location. That way you can leave the box, keeping it in good condition, and you have one less thing to remember.

Another benefit to bringing an insulated cooler or bag, is that if you have to do other errands then the veggies will be safe from the hot car stored in there until you get home.

4. Read the newsletter!

Successful CSA members ALL report doing this. It’s important and worthwhile! Kinda non-negotiable, really!

Here's the link in case you "lose" yours.  No excuses!  :)


5. Go through your veggies.

Words of advice from experienced CSA member Sydney is:

“Plan time to sincerely unpack your share.”

I PROMISE she’s right about this! She adds that this, of course, doesn’t have to be right away on Wednesday night. But, find a regular time that you are able to take a few minutes each week to go through the veggies. I heard this tip from so many members who have been CSA members for 5+ years.

Know what you have and make sure you store it correctly for longer lasting freshness.

Here’s where you can reference my blog on veggie storage tips. Make sure everything is stored correctly going into the fridge. This is how you can make it all last optimally. Remember, how we pack it on the farm may not be the way it will store best in YOUR fridge.

And here's a great tip from Pat: 

Put a date on the bags of stuff like potatoes, carrots, etc. so you know when you got them.  This will help you know which to use first if you get backed up with multiple bags.  

Optional component to this step is to Process/Pre-Prep your veggies for the week when you get your share!

Several experienced members reported doing this and that it is key to their success with CSA. I’m especially excited about sharing this tip because it is not something I have ever done with any CSA I’ve been a part of, but WANT to do this year. I will post a blog very soon on some specific strategies that people are having success with.


6. Use our resources (and others) to find inspiration and make a plan.



  • google
  • food blogs
  • cookbooks
  • friends/family

Seriously the top resources that people cited using in my interviews with experienced members were 1. the newsletter and 2. our website’s Recipe Gallery.

But you don't have to get too fancy.  Surprisingly most of our long-standing CSA members DON’T make formal meal plans. So I wouldn’t say that you have to meal plan, but figuring out a rough idea for what you might do with the week’s items is helpful to many experienced members.

I can't wait to try Brita’s brilliant tip:

Make a rough meal plan guide right on the paper newsletter itself.  Write your idea for how to use everything right in the margin next to the list of veggies and get more detailed on the back side if you want to.  You can even cross off what you have used, like an inventory!  

And it is a good idea to use up the things that go bad quicker (think greens!). Read the newsletter where we list veggie storage info right on there.  It will give you an idea for what to use up sooner rather than later and you can factor that into your plans.

As you go along in the CSA you’ll naturally start to gather up your own “go-to strategies” for certain types of veggies. This will give you confidence to substitute in recipes when you don’t have exactly what it calls for.


7. Take stock of your fridge and get ready to repeat!

On Tuesdays (or before), take inventory of what’s leftover or even better use it all up before the next CSA! Here are some quick suggestions from experienced CSA members below:

  • Soups
  • Stock or Broth
  • Stir-fry
  • Freeze
  • Quick pickling
  • And so many more!

I will go into more detail with some good ideas for using up your extra veggies at the end of the week in upcoming blog posts!


And there you have it it! Experienced CSA members share seven basic steps to follow to successfully get through your weekly box!

So tell me....

How are you feeling after reading this? Is it helpful? Is there anything else you’re wondering?   Post a comment below and let me know!  I love to hear from you!

 ~Mary Margaret


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Comments (2)

Not sure what kinds of produce might be in this first time pickup by a first time CSAer. As the pickup is Wed afternoon and we usually grocery shop Tues or Wed morning, not sure what to not buy for store produce just before a pickup. You need not give an "exact inventory" answer - just a hint would be helpful. Or is your photo shot in this note the answer?! Thanks.

Hello Nancy, There is a weekly newsletter that lists the week's CSA share's contents. A link to that gets sent to you via email as soon as it is available online (which is usually Tuesday nights before the Wednesday pickup date). Hope that helps! --Mary Margaret