Updated: Jun 7
With the cost of food being a hot topic lately, here are a few ways to make the most commonly wasted foods last, or stretch a bit further, to get every bit of goodness out.
The freezer is your best friend. A top tip I picked up a while back is to start a “stock pot”. This can be a large freezer bag or container that you put the ends of the veges, peelings etc that you're prepping into, and then put it in the freezer.
Keep adding to it, and when you come to make soup for example, you’ll have a wealth of fresh veges to use in your home-made stock. There's no need to buy expensive supermarket stock laden with additives. All you need are your own vege scraps and some herbs and seasoning and you’ve got litres of free, yummy home-made stock right there!
Talking of making soup, that's a really good way to use up any veges kicking around in the salad drawer, but here are some other ideas for you.
Cabbage keeps super-well in the fridge for weeks, as long as you wrap it tightly in Gladwrap. Just cut off what you need and re-seal to prevent the air getting to it.
Cabbage is so versatile – raw for slaws and great sauteed – try it before you pull a face! The core can go in the compost or in your stock pot, along with the outer leaves (or give it to your pet bunny if you have one!)
Carrots – no need to peel! Just give them a good scrub, and top and tail. The ends can either go in your stock pot or in the compost.
Alternatively, feed them to your dog.
Zac loves carrot!
Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dark place away from your onions, to stop them from sprouting.
Again, no real need to peel unless you really want to. Give them a good scrub, cut out any eyes with a sharp knife and you’re good to go. I make mashed potatoes with the skin on, and it’s fine.
If you’re into composting, the peels make excellent worm food. (Side note – don’t add onion scraps or citrus to your compost otherwise you will kill off your worms!).
Fresh tomatoes don’t tend to last that long, and they are about to start shooting up in price with winter on the way.
No need to waste a single one! Even if they are starting to go soft and past their best for raw eating, they can be easily roasted up in the oven, or thrown in the slow cooker to make a tomato-based sauce that you can use for heaps of things.
Season to taste and add onion and garlic if you like. I like to keep mine simple, and then add whatever flavourings I need at the time I use it. Pop into containers and freeze.
Celery - wrap tightly in foil and keep in the crisper drawer in the fridge. It should last a good two weeks this way.
The leaves make an excellent addition to a salad, or add them to your stock pot stash.
Bananas - once they start going spotty, they are becoming really sweet and are top candidates to use in your baking – think banana bread, banana muffins etc. The spottier they are, the better, although obviously don’t use any rotten parts!
If you haven’t got time for a baking session, peel them, and freeze, either whole or in pieces.
Bring them back to room temperature for baking or throw them still frozen in the blender to make your smoothie thick and delicious! No need to add ice!
Lemons – if you have a glut, zest them, juice them, cut them up and freeze them!
Squeeze, then freeze the juice in ice-cube trays for ease.
Another option is to slice them up and free-flow freeze. To do this, line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the sliced lemons on top. Freeze, and when solid, transfer to a bag and pull out what you need as and when.
Capsicum – if they are past their best to be used raw, quarter them, or leave whole, chuck them on a baking sheet (line with paper for easy clean-up), drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar, season, and roast until really well done.
Perfect in big slices or cut up small to add to your dish. Alternatively, blend up together with some tomatoes for an amazingly flavourful sauce.
Chilis – if you have some fresh ones and haven’t managed to use them all up, freeze and slice as required.
Take out the seeds and membranes with the end of a teaspoon if you don’t want the extra heat.
Our beautiful free-range eggs are too good to waste.
If your recipe just calls for the yolks, the whites freeze well. Pop them in a bag, label and use another time, thawed, for meringues or add to whole eggs for fluffier scrambled eggs.
The yolks don’t freeze at all well, so it's best to use those up straight away – home-made mayonnaise or aioli is a good use for them.
Bread can often be something that gets wasted too.
I keep bread in the freezer and just take out individual slices, but the crusts/ ends/heels (so many terms for that bit of the loaf!) get whizzed up in the good old Nutri-Bullet for home-made breadcrumbs.
Bake them in the oven to dry them out and make them nice and crunchy! Perfect atop your macaroni cheese - yum!
These are just a few ideas, I’m sure you have heaps of other ones too! Comment below and share your best food-saving techniques.