Bye bye mangoes: 5 ways to make seasonal eating easy with a young family

Kinderling News & Features

Alex Elliott-Howery knows a thing or two about eating seasonally. 

As the owner of Cornersmith café in Sydney (with a focus ethical food production, sustainable business practice and community engagement), and mother of two young girls she’s a big advocate for reducing your food miles and making kids aware of the different foods each season brings. 

As she told Kinderling Conversation recently: 

“I feel like if you start early, kids are going to just kind of grow up knowing that there's not everything's available all year round, that you eat certain things at certain times and that's just the way that you do it,” said Alex. 

It was a really big shift, but I started when my kids were really little and I got really obsessed with food and the way that we buy food and prepare food and throw food away,” said Alex . “I was trying to really understand issues in the food system.” 

While things easily slip through the cracks with kids, Alex said, “my philosophy is that we just eat what's in season at the time and then you look forward to it coming back the next season.” 

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Another great reason to try seasonal eating is that with a little forward planning, it costs you less at the grocery store each week. 

Want to give it a try? Here are Alex’s top five tips for getting started. 

1. Buy up the last of summer fruit and freeze it 

Alex’s kids love summer fruit, so she came up with a cute way to get them involved in saying “goodbye” till the new season.

“I do things like let them know when we won’t be buying something again until the following year, get them to help me freeze lots of berries for smoothies when they’re cheap and make wishes on the first mango of the season,” said Alex. 

Listen to Alex on Kinderling Conversation:

“I also told the kids it was time to say goodbye to watermelon and stone fruit. My daughter isn’t sure how she’ll cope without the half watermelon she eats every few days.”

2. Make smart choices at the supermarket/fruit shop 

Fruit: 

The cooler autumnal months are tricky for fruit, but Alex recommends you keep an eye on the following;

  • Rhubarb (“I always have some poached rhubarb in the fridge to have with ice cream or to make a crumble.”)
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges 

Vegetables:

  • Cauliflower “I make lots of cauliflower fritters and cauliflower mac n cheese.”
  • Pumpkin. “Pumpkin soup is the only way I can get my kids to eat pumpkin”
  • Carrots
  • Celery – Alex uses these in lunchboxes when cherry tomatoes, cucumber and capsicums aren’t around.
  • Beetroots “Beetroots are on both their hate lists - so I end up eating a lot of roasted beets.”
  • Mushrooms. “We love mushrooms but the kids actually gag so I grate them into every stew and into bolognaise.”
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel “I’m determined to make the kids love fennel this winter.”
  • Leafy greens – cheese and spinach triangles and pies are hits at this time of year. 

Alex shares a few additional tips to make seasonal eating work for your family. 

3.Get into pickling and preserving

Alex has really fallen in love with preserving. 

“It was the canned tomato that started this whole journey for me because I didn't want to eat any tomatoes that were out of season and I didn't want to buy tomatoes that had crap in them or imported ones.” Alex explains. “We don't eat fresh tomatoes any other any other time than summer. I bottle them in summer so that we've got them in winter.” 

“Last week I made a mountain of bottled passata and bottled tomatoes to get us through winter so we don’t have to buy floury, tasteless tomatoes from the supermarket.” 

4. Subscribe to a veggie box

“For me having a veggie box is the best way that I eat seasonally because I know that the guy I get my veggie box from only deals with seasonal fruit and veg. So you kind of just deal with what comes in and that's what you eat.” 

5. Shop from the front at the local grocery store

Alex says you don’t have to shop at organic farmer’s markets or go out of your way to find this sort of produce. She shops at her local fruit and veg store, visits the deli and the baker.

Anything that at the front of the grocery shop is in season because they want to move it and they want to move fast. It's actually really good for your hip pocket to eat seasonally as well. It makes everything a lot more affordable.”