I like variety in some parts of life, and predictability in others. Food is one of those areas where I value variety. If I serve pasta two days in a row, that’s one too much.

Sometimes I feel like I’m always cooking the same stuff, again and again. Then I go search for inspiration. Cooking books sometimes help. Other times even the recipes in the books feel old and stale.

Now I’m trying something new: fueling creativity by imposing constraints on my cooking. Namely, a vegetable subscription service from Årstiderna. Every Thursday, starting last week, a box of mixed fresh produce will arrive at our doorstep. Since I have a very strong aversion to throwing away food, I will have to come up with meals to utilize everything in that box.

Last week’s box included yellow beets, spinach, carrots, fennel (both bulb and lots of leafy “topping”), bell pepper, courgette, parsley, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes and a giant onion.

I did actually throw out most of the fennel stalks and leaves (I tried them in a sauce but they had too little flavour and too much stringiness for my taste) and unfortunately the courgette went bad before I got around to cooking it, but I intend to find some use for all the rest. I even have a plan for the giant bunch of parsley.

An additional constraint here is limited fridge space. This time of the year we have all sorts of berries and berry products in our fridge. At one point today we had: gooseberries waiting to be baked into a cake, then some more gooseberries, blackcurrants that I will make into a soup, a large bowl of damsons (pitted and ready to become marmalade), half a damson pie, and the tail end of the previous blackcurrant soup. There is no way I can fit a crate of vegetables in there, too.

This means that I need to not only make sure to consume all these vegetables before the next box arrives – I also have to plan the meals so the most perishable items are eaten first. Which is great: half the meal planning work is already done! It’s a lot easier to come up with a meal idea when spinach is a given, than when starting from a blank slate.

We’ve already had broccoli stir fry, pasta with spinach and cheese sauce, and a fennel and carrot and apple soup. There will be pasta with parsley pesto tomorrow, and oven baked roots with chevre on Wednesday. And I guess I’ll turn the lettuce and tomatoes into a sallad.