By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Reducing food waste not only is helpful for the environment, but it’s also helpful for saving money and your time. How much time do we spend making trips to the markets, carting all the produce home and storing it in the fridge, countertop or cupboard for it to then spoil before we get to enjoy it? Unfortunately, it sometimes happens in my kitchen and this can all add up.
It is so helpful to know some simple tips to get the most out of your purchases and of course the most out of your healthy produce. These tips can also be helpful if you wish to buy produce that is on special or in larger quantities to save time and money.
Freezing fruit and vegetables when it’s on special, super cheap or about to go off saves time and money. I normally freeze fruit to keep all year round for smoothies, muffins, healthy fruit breads or for fruit or vegetable based dishes such as berries, mango, bananas, passion fruit, stone fruit, kiwi fruit, tomato, peas, chopped celery, etc. for a later date which reduces any need for frozen fruit or vegetables from the supermarket that may be from foreign countries.
This was fantastic when I learned this simple trick. Wrap your herbs in a paper bag, plastic wrap or foil and cut as need. I often do this with leafy herbs like dill and parsley along with turmeric and ginger pieces and chilli in little freezer baggies.
You can also chop and store your herbs in healthy oil portions in an ice cube tray to use in dishes as needed. Store them in ice cube trays then once frozen, store in a bag or container.
Hang fresh herbs in a warm dry environment and store in glass jars for later use. I have oregano going crazy in my garden which is perfect in many of my savory dishes dried.
If something is going a little bad, it’s best to remove it and store it away from the produce that isn’t bad. One bad apple can turn the lot and this can be true for all fruits and vegetables.
I recently did this and promised it was going to be more of a regular thing. When you find that container of ‘I don’t know what that is’, it can get a little frightening! I’m still not sure what that last one was! This helps you to utilize what you have and reduce wastage. These things are often at the back of the cupboard or the fridge. Saves you from buying something twice.
Apple Cider Vinegar kills any potential bugs on the surface of the produce and reduces the incidence of spoilage from molds, yeasts and other contaminating bugs. How often do you find your berries growing mold on them?ACV kills many food bugs.
I do this regularly so I can make sure that I reduce my waste. A small section of my crisper contains all the produce that’s looking a little under the weather and perhaps a bit dodgy; this often includes things that my children start to nibble on then change their minds. I will eat these, juice them, turn them into my stock concentrate, blend them into soups, main meal dishes and freeze into portions.
This is a common one for me because we tend to over buy bananas as my kids go from eating loads to not touching them depending on their food mood. Another option is wrapping the tops of them in plastic, bee wax wraps or foil. It is also important to be aware that bananas can increase the ripening process of other fruits due to them emitting ethylene gas naturally, separate your bananas from the other fruits or if I want to hasten a fruit’s ripening process I will sit them with bananas.
Liberally squeeze citrus such as lemon over the produce to reduce oxidation and prevent it from going brown. Storing with a cut onion is also helpful.
Lemons going bad? Freeze in ice cube trays; this allows you to easily pop into a glass of warm/hot or even cold water and as it dissolves it flavors your water and provides loads of health benefits. This is great to do when limes or lemons are on special and you can buy them cheap. Limes are super cheap at the moment here in Australia!
If things are looking a bit sad then turning this into a stock concentrate will use up those limp looking greens. This is my go-to.
Often the green tops from beets, celery, and carrots, and leaves on cauliflower and broccoli are tossed but they don’t need to be. Make use of these and add them to salads, juices and vegetable based dishes.
Often we get asked about what can be done with the pulp from making juices. Using the pulp to make a broth, in meals, patties, dog biscuits and compost are just some of the ideas. Here are 9 ways to use your pulp.
Places these in brown paper bags or clean old stockings to extend the life of these vegetables.
By rinsing your leaves, allowing them to dry slightly and storing in a container with paper towel helps to absorb the water which helps to extend the life of the leaves.
Puree your older veggies and mix into pasta sauce, meat dishes or vegetarian platters for a great and easy way to use those bits and pieces that may be on its way out. This increases nutrients and fiber and reduces waste and saves money.
Anything with a stem can be kept fresher for longer by storing them in jugs of water, much like flowers such as celery, asparagus, herbs, kale and chard. Keeping the tops covered can also helpful to reduce spoilage.
Having an idea of what you are going to eat for the week can have a great effect on reducing the purchase of produce that you may not use versus using up the produce you have already or are about to buy.
This can be helpful for using up any older produce or juicing when the produce is fresher if you bought in larger quantities and you need the room in the fridge or it simply ensures that you will use and enjoy. Here is more on storage of your juices.
Making kimchi, sauerkraut or preserving any excess produce is another great way to store and use up any of your produce for later consumption.
Many fruits ripen more quickly on the counter such as bananas, apples, pears and stonefruit so if you know it may take you a little longer to get to it and they are already ripe, then store them in the fridge.
Buying in bulk and when produce is on special or at a market is only beneficial if you actually consume it, so by incorporating these ideas you are less likely to waste good food and save your money!