Here at Infruition, we hate food waste, especially fruit and veg. Mother Nature has worked so hard to bring them from ground to table, and yet it’s estimated that consumers in the UK throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from their homes per YEAR. What’s even more shocking is that more than half of this amount is still fit for consumption when it’s binned, yikes. So, here are some easy hacks to help you get the most from your weekly shop.
Turn leftover fruit & veg into a whole new meal
Do you cook a “big” meal on a Sunday, when you’re not as pressed for time and usually manage to knock up a masterpiece? Take a look at your ingredients and see what you can use them for as a meal later on in the week. Leftover vegetables from a roast dinner will make a mean bubble and squeak to compliment cold meats and pickles. Chili can be mixed with shredded lettuce and grated cheese to form a taco or enchilada filling. Curries make great jacket potato toppings, and meatballs can be baked between pasta sheets for a quirky take on lasagne.
Start using your freezer more than your fridge
Both fruits and vegetables can be frozen, to be reignited later on and turned into something delicious. Freezing while still fairly fresh can lock in oodles of vitamins and minerals that might otherwise be lost, making this a savvy way to prolong the life of your shopping basket. Try portioning out items of chopped, prepared fruit that you fancy as a smoothie. Place each batch into freezer bags and lay flat in the freezer, labelling with the freeze date. They thaw out quickly, too. Raw vegetables can be lightly boiled or steamed before following the same process as above – combine a few types together and freeze in bags, to add to stir fries, soups and stews later on. Buy fruit in bulk? (let's face it - when there is a supermarket offer on them - we all do!) Add some to some of these Infruition freezer pods - one pod = one portion of fruit.
Find your nearest food bank
There are several hundred food bank organisations that run across the UK to provide food and household items to those who live below the poverty line. Many supermarkets have “donation stations”, where unwanted, surplus items can be deposited and taken away for distribution. Most food banks will accept fresh fruit and veg, but it needs to be in an edible condition – if it’s starting to spoil, consider another way to make your waste work, such as composting (see below).
Start making your own compost
All sorts can be composted and turned into nutrient rich soil. Fruit and veg peelings, things that have gone a bit mouldy, egg shells, teabags, stale bread, general food waste – it can all go in and emerge as something beautiful. Well, kind of. You can buy compost pails for your kitchen that keep yukky smells trapped in, or take everything straight out to a larger bin in your garden. The soil produced will be extra fertile, which will actually need less water once it’s out in your flowerbeds. So it’s win-win – reduce food waste AND your water bill.
Start a lunchtime club
Buddy up with a couple of friends at work and share lunches on a rota each week. You can either prepare and bring enough for everyone, or each bring a component part. This will make your fruit and veg go further, encourage you to try new foods, and force you into being a bit more sociable than staying at your desk reading blogs while you plough down a cheese sarnie (er…).
Buy only what you need, when you need it.
We all know that variety is the spice of life, and that a wide range of fruit and veg will give you and your family maximum vitamins and minerals. But sometimes buying pre-packed means that you have more than you know what to do with. Try buying loose fruits and veggies in smaller quantities – your local greengrocer is fab for this, and may have a host of local, seasonal produce that you won’t find in your supermarket.
We like to take veg to the edge of edible, but sometimes we need to admit defeat. If your potatoes have green patches or are riddled with sprouty eyes, they’re not much good for your tum. However, you can still donate them to your children as the key ingredient in an arts and crafts activity – potato printing. Carve shapes into the flesh and dab into pots of poster paint for an easy, rainy day activity.
Breathe New Life into tired looking carrots
Do you chuck away masses of carrots that you think look a bit dry and woody? No need. Place them in a container of water – think of it as a little moisture bath for your orange friends. Keep in the fridge, and refresh the water if it starts to look cloudy. This way, your carrots will stay fresh for a good couple of weeks.
Do a Mary Berry & make a cake
If your fruit has gone “over” and you don’t fancy eating it as it is, it probably still has a lot of love left to give as a cake or pudding. Banana bread is infamous for saving brown, mushy bananas and turning them into a little feast. Fruit crumbles are also a fab way of cooking up masses of too-ripe fruit – they’ll break down and yield themselves to sweet, buttery yumminess.
Get savvy on your storage
Did you know that bananas, tomatoes and apples should be stored by themselves? They release natural gases that can spoil their neighbours ahead of time. Onions, potatoes and parsnips prefer a cool, dark cupboard to the fridge, and leafy herbs should be removed from their packaging and laid between sheets of damp kitchen paper.
What hacks do you have to elongate the life of fruit & veg? Let us know in the comments section below.