The first year we had a garden, we did a terrible job protecting our plants from hungry critters. And because we didn’t put up a real fence, opportunistic bunnies chewed each of our plants down to the stubs.

A trip to Home Depot and a hundred bucks later, we bought enough crap to start the process over. Not only did we provide our garden with ample protection from animals this time, but we replanted our tomatoes, cucumbers, and kale. Lesson learned.

The next year, we had the fencing down pat. On the other hand, we decided to take our gardening efforts up a notch – and with disastrous results. In addition to the things we would normally plant, I added strawberries, melons, cilantro, and herbs. Unfortunately, I spaced these plants out so horribly that they practically killed each other over night. Again, lesson learned.

Enjoying a Summer of Free Food

Years later, I finally have this gardening thing down. To add an extra layer of protection to our white picket fence, we have some mesh fencing that keeps the critters out. And instead of trying to grow everything under the sun, we focus on four plants that let us maximize our land – basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.

This year has been absolutely nuts. While my tomato plants did “okay,” my squash and cucumbers took on a life of their own. As a result, we have had to get a little creative with our meal planning lately – as in, we eat garden vegetables for every meal!

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One of my neighbors taught me how to pickle cucumbers and onions, and that helped a lot. With a few ingredients and twelve hours of refrigeration, I am able to make a fresh and simple side dish we can enjoy for days.

When it comes to the tomatoes and basil, that shit’s easy. Not only do we eat a caprese salad for lunch each day, but I make basil pesto once a week. This helps me make some tasty meals, including this one below:

meal 1

4 Fun Ways to Eat Zucchini

Still, the zucchini has been relentless. I mean, I can’t even believe how much zucchini we got from just four plants. While I’m not actually aware of 287 ways to eat zucchini (I exaggerated, okay?), here are a few fun zucchini recipes we have used this summer:

Zucchini with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

zucchini app

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini, sliced
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Goat cheese

This appetizer is super easy to make. Slice your zucchini for preferred thickness, then top it with goat cheese and a sun-dried tomato or two. Yum.

Grilled Zucchini

Ways to Eat Zucchini

Photo Credit: Breville USA via Flickr and Creative Commons

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Here’s another one of my super simple zucchini recipes. Once I slice the zucchini how I want it, I slather it with olive oil and add some salt and pepper. After it’s prepped, we throw it on the grill for 5-8 minutes.

Zucchini Pasta

zucchini recipes - zucchini noodles

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini, spiralized
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

After buying a cheap spiralizer that didn’t actually work, I eventually bought this vegetable spiralizer from Amazon.com. It has come in handy for several recipes already, including both veggie pasta and pickled cucumbers. It’s easy to use, too.

Once I spiralize a bunch of zucchini, I throw it in a pan with some olive oil and let it simmer for around fifteen minutes. After that, I top it with pasta sauce or basil pesto from my garden. Boom.

Zucchini Bread

zucchini recipes - zucchini bread

So, I totally stole this zucchini recipe from the Food Network and Paula Deen. You can read all the ingredients and steps here. This stuff is good, plus it’s easy to make. I’m really not that into baked goods, and even I thought it was awesome.

Throw a thick layer of butter on the top and it’s practically heaven. Better yet, I think it’s going to freeze well, too.

Oh, who am I kidding? We’re going to eat all four loaves this week. Believe that.

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Making Fun Zucchini Recipes

Beyond the initial start-up costs, our garden has been a fairly inexpensive endeavor. Since we’re eating squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil for every meal, I Love these simple and cheap zucchini recipes! Can't wait to try the zucchini bread. Yummy!haven’t actually bought vegetables all summer. And since we’re eating vegetables as our main course in most cases, we haven’t purchased a lot of the ingredients I normally cook with, either.

Although I’m starting to get sick of having zucchini for every meal, I know I’ll miss it when the surge of fresh veggies comes to an end. I always do. So, for now, I’m going to enjoy it. And hopefully, I’ll come up with a few more ways to eat zucchini before summer ends. Next up, this recipe for zucchini fries!

If you have a favorite recipe, please post below!

How did your garden work out this summer? What did you plant, and why?

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