It turns out that a lovely alternative to fresh cut flowers can be found in the produce bins of your grocery store or favorite farmer's market.
Chadwick Boyd, author of Entertaining with Vegetables: A Recipe Collection for Modern Home Cooks to Make Lovely & Delicious Food with Produce, has some super smart hacks for using vegetables and herbs to spruce up the home. Not only are they significantly less expensive than fancy floral centerpieces, but they can also be used for cooking before they go bad — double the fun!
Below, see some of his favorite tricks for decorating with food:
1. Display fresh herbs in pretty containers in the kitchen
How many times have you bought fresh herbs at the grocery store, put them in the fridge and only used a portion before they went bad? That’s why Boyd suggests buying the potted kind in the produce department or market and turning them into a convenient and beautiful display in your kitchen.
“Take them home and replant them into a glass jar with the soil,” he told TODAY Home. “Place them in the kitchen window, use what you need and enjoy the pretty view.” He suggests watering them every one to two days to keep them fresh.
Aside from glass jars, he said he also loves using shallow pots like this Earth Fired Clay Cylinder Bowl from terrain.com, which looks great in the window but doesn’t block the view. You can also display herbs in other parts of the house — he suggests something like this Earth Fired Clay Dish. And if you’d like to use a wooden vessel, he recommends something like this Teak Boat Planter. “I like to sit them atop large cutting boards,” he said. “Together they warm the space.”
2. Use cherry tomatoes and herbs to create unique centerpieces
Boyd says he likes to use potted herbs on his table instead of cut flowers. “They’re $1.99 a piece, and are a nice, beautiful surprise on the table when guests arrive,” he said, adding that he often just puts the plastic container directly in the vase. “I buy a pint of beautiful colored cherry tomatoes for $4 and scatter them on top,” he said. “It’s a caprese salad in a vase!” You can also use the tomatoes to hide the container if your bowl is see-through.
“I dislike having to clean the decorative stones and marbles that are often used to cover soil — it’s such a pain,” he said. “It’s so much easier just to use something that can be rinsed and eaten.” And if you feel like being really colorful, Boyd says he likes to alternate between red, yellow, and purple tomatoes when he can get them.
3. Create a tablescape with seasonal produce
“Cut flowers are expensive, but I do like fancy tablescapes for dinner parties,” Boyd said. So rather than spending $50-$100 on flower arrangements, he uses seasonal produce for inspiration. “My rule of thumb is to buy five different produce items, like purple kale, rainbow chard, Italian parsley, pink peppercorns and radishes. This is enough to fill two medium size vases.”
And since he makes the arrangements the day of the party, the veggies are still fresh enough to eat once it’s over, making a great favor for guests to leave with. “I try to use vegetables in the arrangements that I have in the meal, so sending them home with guests gives them a head start to replicate a recipe from the dinner,” he said. “It’s fun, mindful and multi-purpose.”
You can find some of Boyd’s favorite veggie recipes in his new abridged publication, available now.