20 genius tips to make your food shop last longer

We’re all trying hard to stay home as much as possible to protect the NHS and save lives. That means we can’t just pop to the shops three times per week like we normally do.

On top of that, the supermarkets aren’t as stocked as they normally are, and there can be long queues as people strive to maintain social distancing.

So, the most efficient way to shop is to do a big food shop and make it last as long as possible. It’s really important that we’re all doing what we can to limit waste, and making your food last longer could even save you a bit of money.

Food-waste expert and Oddbox co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe has compiled a list of kitchen hacks to help you make your food go further, using every last scrap.

From easy ways to use each and every part of your produce, to tips on how to freeze fresh fruit and veg, and even guidance on how to magically re-grow veg from the stalks, these hacks have got you covered.

1) Everything pesto

We’ll start with one of our favourites as pesto really is the best way to whip up a tasty sauce from any leftover greens.

Rocket or spinach that’s been left a little long and is starting to wilt? Into the food processor. Herb stalks? In they go. Beet and carrot top greens? Bosh.

2) Clear-the-fridge casserole

A rich, saucy casserole or stew is the perfect dish to use up any veg left in the fridge at the end of the week that you’re just not quite sure what to do with.

Wilted greens, celery ends, that half of a pepper leftover from your stir fry – they can all be tossed into a heavy bottomed pan along with any beans you have in the pantry, a can or two of chopped tomatoes and some stock.

If you have any bags of grains or pulses containing not-quite-enough for a meal, these can also be added for a bit of bulk.

3) Save scraps for stock

Every time you make a meal throughout the week, instead of throwing all the organic waste into the compost bin, pop it into a container in the freezer instead.

Root veg peelings, carrot tops, onion skins, mushroom stalks and herb stems alike – seriously – anything goes and the possibilities are endless.

At the end of the week empty everything into a heavy bottomed pan, season with salt and cover with plenty of water, maybe add a bay leaf or two and some turmeric.

Then, simply bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer up for a couple of hours.

4) Use your cauliflower leaves

We’re used to removing these from the stem and throwing them straight into the compost in favour of using the head but actually, cauliflower leaves are an incredibly versatile veg in their own right.

When roasted, they crisp up nicely and, with a dash of your favourite spices, work great as your side of greens with dinner.

They can also be steamed or chopped and tossed into a stir fry with some garlic.

5) End-of-the-jar vinaigrette

Turn what you can’t reach at the bottom of a jar into something delicious. By adding some oil, a vinegar and a bit of seasoning you can shake it all up into a delicious vinaigrette for your salads.

Tahini? Add olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and a dash of sumac.

Mustard? Olive oil, red wine or apple cider vinegar, honey and seasoning.

Jams and preserves? Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots and fresh thyme work great.

6) Fruit-end-infused water

This is such a simple way to make use of strawberry tops, orange or lemon peel and ginger scraps.

Simply add to your water and leave in the fridge to infuse overnight; when you grab it as you’re walking out the door the next day you’ll have a refreshing, flavour-filled water.

Try experimenting with flavour combinations too, maybe adding some herb stalks for a twist.

7) Watermelon rind chutney

Who here thought that there could ever be a way to make use of your watermelon rind?

We certainly didn’t but there’s no way we’ll be chucking them out again. Instead, we’ll be whipping up a batch of this chutney to make the most of the entire watermelon.

8) Use the whole banana

You can eat the entire banana, skin and all. If you wait for your bananas to ripen well the skin will be thin and sweet.

Simply give them a good wash and you’ll find there are multiple ways to use them.

For example, this cake recipe uses the entire banana.

Otherwise, just save the peels by themselves and add them to your morning smoothie for some extra fibre.

Top tip: they also make a great chutney.

9) Preserve those herbs

If you’ve found your herbs wilting at the pack of your fridge there’s no need to toss them straight out. Those that are on the way out can be added to good quality olive oil and left to infuse.

Those looking a little healthier? Let them dry out or get them minced and frozen to use later.

10) Infuse your grains

Our favourite way to use the stems after picking the leaves is to add them to the pot when simmering up our grains.

They bring a great hint of flavour to your quinoa, rice or couscous once cooked.

11) Broccoli stalk soup

Broccoli is not just good for its florets, you can actually make use of the whole head.

Hold onto those stalks and boil up with some root veg and stock for a quick, tasty and filling creamy, green soup. 

12) Use your citrus skins

The peelings from oranges, lemons and grapefruits have a myriad of uses so you’ll never have to throw them out again.

Boiled up with sugar and water you can make candied peel or a citrus infused syrup for baking; top up with boiling water or dry them out to use at a later date for a fragrant tea; infuse a good quality liquor; use them for DIY cleaning solutions… the possibilities are endless.

13) Potato peel chips

Take the peelings from any root veg and you can create a quick and easy, moreish snack.

Give your peelings a good rinse and pat them dry, pop into a roasting try with a good drizzle of oil, salt and maybe some smoky paprika or cumin. Roast in the oven until deep golden brown and crispy them tip directly into a serving bowl – they’re best eaten warm!

14) Zero-waste jams

Leftover fruit peels after making a crumple? Strawberry tops after a picnic? Make a delicious jam from these odds and ends.

Use just one fruit or simply store all scraps in your freezer until you have enough for a batch and experiment with tutti frutti.

Quick jam recipe

Combine 500g of your fruit of choice with 30g of sugar, 2tbsp of lemon and a pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and mash slightly with a potato masher or fork.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, stirring continuously until the mixture is jammy and thick – approximately 20 minutes.

Trick to test if it’s ready: pop a few spoons in the freezer before you start; when you think your jam is ready, take a spoon out the freezer and drizzle a few drops of jam onto it.

Leave for a few seconds then run your finger through the jam, if a distinct track is left your jam is ready.

Turn off the heat and transfer into a clean glass jar, col to room temp, seal and label with the fruit and the date.

15) Snack on sprout leaves

Do you find yourself with a mountain of leaves leftover from peeling all your Brussels sprouts? Use them for a quick snack.

Simply give them a good rinse, pat dry then drizzle with oil and season well; pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes and you’ll have a crispy snack to tide you over until dinner time.

16) Reuse used coffee grounds

The waste from all of your coffee grounds does add up.

Instead, store them in a container or resealable bag in your fridge then, at the end of the week, put them to good use by whipping up a batch of these decadent espresso brownies or this coffee ground biscotti.

17) Scrap smoothies

Smoothies aren’t just a super quick and tasty way to get your five-a-day, they’re also a great way to consume all the bits of fruit we might otherwise throw away.

A whole strawberry, stem and all? In it goes. Apple avec core? Pop it in. So, if you’re like us, and love a smoothie to go each morning, make it a scrap smoothie.

18) Ginger tea

Who else loves the fragrance ginger adds to their curry or stir fries? Well, the next time you use it, add the peelings and ends to a mug of hot water and leave to brew for 5 minutes.

The result is a steaming ginger tea that’s super tasty and also a great aid for digestion at the end of a long day.

19) Pickle and preserve

This is both a tasty method to revamp any tired looking produce left in the back of the fridge and great way to preserve any fruit and veg you’re worried you won’t get to before it goes off.

Looking for flavour inspiration? Check out these variations.

20) Don’t throw, regrow

This is a foolproof way to grow your very own spring onions and leeks, whilst also helping to fight food waste.

The next time you cook with them, hold onto approximately the last half inch of the bulb and roots and them to a glass with enough water to submerge the roots, but leave the stem uncovered.

Leave this on a sunny windowsill, topping up with water as needed, and changing the water entirely at least once a week.

You’ll be surprised by how quickly a whole new onion sprouts and will be able to brag about your newfound skills to all your friends. 

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