It’s a rough estimate from the government that we, the Australian people throw away up to 20% of all the food that we purchase. Personally, in a world where we have two crises, obesity and starvation, it’s almost criminal to waste money on edible food.
Today I present you with 7 types of perishable food that when cooked with the right recipe, can salvage its edibility just as it's starting to look bad in order to save you money. If you're somebody who shops around to pay less at the supermarket, make that time worthwhile by utilising every cooking ingredient that you buy to ensure all shopping trips provide you with the best value for money possible.
At the end of every week you may have some fruit or vegetables left over in the fridge. Instead of throwing those items away or chucking them into the compost heap, why not use them in a recipe which can salvage their goodness. Previously I have touched on this subject when Australian supermarkets decided to stop throwing away thousands of tonnes of ugly looking vegetables purely because they didn’t fit the stereotype shape.
Now it’s your turn to do your part. Try to not discard edible food and more importantly waste money on produce simply because it doesn’t look 100% fresh. Additionally, regrowing the old stems into completely new vegetables is another great way to save money on grocery bills.
Coriander & other Herbs
If like me you enjoy buying fresh herbs (albeit for the extra cost) and sticking them on your windowsill to grow, then it’s annoying to find them not flourishing a few days later. In order to make sure I still use them up to avoid wasting money, I often become creative and add them to dishes that don’t quite fit the norm.
You should try adding the remaining stalks and leaves to dishes like the zucchini salad I mention later in this post, otherwise I find they also go particularly well with:
- Scrambled eggs
- Cocktails (I love a mojito with basil and a sliced cherry tomato - sounds odd, I know, but try it!)
- Jarred salsas
- Mexican dishes
- Pesto dishes
This one is the most interesting of them all. If I have a bunch of collard leaves left from a shop because I didn’t get around to cooking what I had planned, I usually go way outside the box. You will have to trust me on this one, throw all the leaves into the blender - and no, we are not making a smoothie. Blend the leaves with a small amount of water until you’ve practically got a liquid texture and then pour that liquid into ice trays.
That’s right, you’ve guessed it, we’re going to then freeze the ice tray contents so we don’t have to worry again about those leaves going bad. All you have to remember for the future is that you have plenty of green collard ice cubes to add to dishes e.g. curry, gravy soups etc. Read more here about what other foods can be frozen.
When I have the family over for a curry I always like to make plenty of everything, but somehow I always manage to cook too much rice. In the past I have wasted money by simply throwing the excess away, however after learning a few different rice pudding recipes I’ve not wasted a single grain since.
All you need is the left over rice, 50g of sugar and 700ml (per 100g of rice) of milk and you’ve pretty much got the dish made. To top things off you can stir in some nutmeg and lemon zest before slinging it into the oven for an hour at 180’C.
It’s not often that I struggle to use up this vegetable because it reduces to nothing when cooked as well as the fact that it doesn’t have an over powering taste so can be thrown together with anything. However, when my zucchinis starting to look a bit tired, instead of hunting around for a suitable recipe I make the easiest thing there is, a salad.
Begin by finely slicing it either with a sharp knife or a cheese grater (with the appropriate large 3cm wide hole) and throw it into a bowl. Then all you have to do is add some fresh or dried herbs, add any salad leaves that need using up, drizzle on some seasoning and voila, you’ve got a delicious 5 minute salad.
Grapes and Cucumber
Typically these are two other forms of fruit and veg that I tend to throw away, as I have a habit of forgetting about them in the fridge. I usually have two remedies for reuse depending on how sorry these items are looking. If they are both generally okay, I will slice up the cucumber while filtering out the worst of the grapes and putting the best ones out on display. I find that keeping low calorie things like this on display generally encourages the household to help themselves.
However, if they don’t look presentable enough to attract passing grazers, my next solution is to throw them into the blender with an additional fruit, e.g. apple or banana, along with a splash of orange juice or milk to create a healthy morning smoothie.
The other day I had a red, yellow and green pepper left over because I'd intended on cooking fajitas which never happened. All were looking a little sad and mushy, but I remembered a recipe I had for peppers in my old cookbook. It involved stuffing the peppers and baking them, which once finished leave no hint of their previous degraded state. If you don’t have a similar recipe, here is a web page with 6 different recipes for using up old peppers peppers by stuffing them.
These ideas have helped save many a sorry vegetable from simply being binned in my house.However, if you know of any other useful (or tasty) ways to save money by using up old fruit and vegetables, please let us know in the comments section below.