Here are 5 ways to make your food last longer and to reduce food waste.
We all love finding hacks to save money, and finding ways to make food last longer and reducing grocery bills is a sure-fire way to hang on to your hard-earned coins. Sometimes it’s not in the actual grocery bill itself that money is wasted. Often the waste happens right at home, under your very nose.
You might not be someone who wastes food (or at least thinks that they don’t), but if you’re reading this post I bet even you will find some of these solutions to food wastage helpful here. You might be great at sticking to a budget in the grocery store, or grow your own vegetables but if you’re letting your kale wilt and your carrots shrivel in the back of the fridge, only to discard them later, you’re essentially throwing your money and time away.
Pickled vegetables add a delicious crunch to a meal. Vegetables and herbs are chopped up and preserved in a vinegar brine which helps to preserve them as well as give great flavour. Ideally pickles are made with fresh and crisp vegetables but they can also freshen up older vegetables like those carrots that are starting to shrivel or the radishes that are softening at the back of the fridge. Chop them, brine them, eat them. The vinegar brine will preserve their fridge life by a few more weeks.
Canning or Bottling
Canning or bottling produce is a great way to extend its shelf life. It’s also a way to ensure you can have your favourite produce throughout the year even when it is not in season. Buying seasonally is the best way to save money, and if you bulk buy seasonally when things are cheap and preserve your excess you can reap the rewards throughout the year.
In late summer for example stone fruit and tomatoes are in abundance, whether home-grown or from the grocery store. Preserved peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines make wonderful desserts or breakfasts toppings. Excess tomatoes can be roasted and blended with lemon juice and herbs and canned for long-term storage to use as soup, pasta sauces or for pizza in the cold winter months.
Dehydrating food is an excellent way to extend the shelf life. Drying it removes the water which stops bacteria being able to grow on it. Seasonal vegetable gluts can be grated or shredded and dried until crispy. Once the water has been removed they will shrink a lot, so you can easily store it in small jars or containers. Add the dried vegetables to sauces, soups and casseroles throughout the year.
Fruits also dry very well, in pieces or pureed and dried into fruit leather.
A dehydrator makes this process very simple but dehydrating can also be done in the oven
Freezing is such a simple way to extend the life of your food and you can freeze pretty much anything! You can freeze milk, freeze butter, cream, fruit, vegetables, bread, flour, oats, coffee, egg whites, cookie dough, soups, sauces, casseroles, you name it!
If you’re freezing a lot of things, keep a freezer checklist alongside dates of when things were frozen so you eat things in the right order. It also pays to eat your freezer empty every couple of months to avoid forgotten food (and it’s going to save you a ton at the store!)
Fermented food is stored in a salt brine where salt and beneficial bacteria preserve it. Not only does it bring great flavour and extend the food shelf-life, it also brings a ton of healthy pro-biotic bacteria. Any fruits and vegetables can be fermented and flavours can be added with herbs and spices.
What's your favourite way to make your food last longer?