Easy Dinner Solutions from the Co-op

We want to help the next time someone asks , “What’s for dinner?” Our co-op’s prepared foods department provides a range of offerings, including vegan and vegetarian alternatives, which can be the featured item on your plate, help get dinner started, or work perfectly as a side dish.

In the grab and go case, you will find wild-caught salmon from the Faroe Islands and grilled chicken breast from chickens raised with vegetarian feed and without antibiotics, fully traceable from “farm to fork,” from Nature’s Sensation. For something a little different, consider breakfast for dinner with one of our whole quiches, made in our co-op’s kitchen. There is always a meat option and a vegetarian option, which our Prepared Foods Manager Doug Barg describes as focused on the filling and “not quiches in the way that you would expect in terms of tons of egg. They are more substantive and a little less delicate.”

Another excellent dinner starter suggestion from Chef Doug is the tofu from SoyBoy that’s also found in the grab and go case, which he calls one of the most popular items we sell. “It’s the same one that’s on the hot bar. It’s organic, and everybody enjoys it, even non-tofu eaters.”

Part of the reason for that popularity, he says, is the method of preparation, searing the tofu, instead of just baking it. “If you sear it, it gets this crispy texture on the outside while maintaining the soft texture on the inside. You get a little caramelization from the searing and the heat process, so you end up getting more depth of flavor, and the contrast of textures is always nice. Whenever you are cooking, when you have crunchy and soft in the same bite, that is nice. So, we started searing it, and it makes a huge difference.”

While the grab and go case has some excellent options for dinner, the hot bar is another perfect opportunity to get just what you need for a great meal, with a vegetarian option always included along with one, usually two, meat-based choices. From the selection of entrees and accompaniments, you can grab exactly how much you need, and using our eco-containers gives you something that you can reuse later. Chef Doug notes that the macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and pulled pork are just a few of the most popular items you’ll frequently find on the hot bar, any of which will quickly provide you with a meal everyone at home will love. You can find the deli’s weekly hot bar menu at our website here.

All of the produce, beans, and grains used in our kitchen are organic or locally sourced. All of our meat and dairy ingredients are also organic, local, or all-natural. Doug estimates the percentage of organic ingredients used in the Co-op’s kitchen is probably in the high 90s. Keeping everything as local as possible is a top priority for Chef Doug.

 “My preference is to buy local, even if you have to pay a little more,” he says.“I have a responsibility to the member-owners and the Co-op itself to be financially viable, but part of our mission is to create a sustainable local food economy.” He notes that while we get out of season produce from Albert’s, a national organic produce vendor, we purchase a lot from local suppliers and producers, like Pete’s Greens and Flack Family Farm..

Another way we keep it local is by offering a collection of excellent soups from Joe’s Kitchen. It doesn’t get more local than Joe’s, which is literally across the street from the Co-op. Whenever you buy their soups, in addition to supporting a local business, you are also supporting all of the other local businesses they source their ingredients from, such as Misty Knoll Farms. Along with these local meats, Joe’s also uses organic vegetables in their recipes.

While you’re checking out all the great options in the grab and go case or the hot bar, don’t forget the organic whole chickens, which can be purchased hot or cold. The hot variety are available from 3-6pm every day. It’s just one of the many ways the Co-op has your dinner covered every night of the week.